One of "those" days!
The damage they do and the state they leave the place in........


Commentary 

We are often asked why accommodation costs what it does. There are the usual costs associated with being in business and owning a property.
Add to this the fact that the tourist season does not go for 12 months of the year: actually it is about 7 months in Broken Hill. We need to make our income in those 7 months to
carry us through the 5 months when we lose money. Thus, when a customer leaves the place unreasonably dirty or in a damaged state, we suffer a loss due to the added costs of repair,
cleaning and in the worst cases, loss of income due to the cottage not being able to be let until the damage is repaired or replaced.
As a rule of thumb, most people take care of our property and leave it tidy. We expect to have to clean, dust and wash, that is the nature of the business. We can usually pick in advance who
will be a problem, but you never know for sure. Then there are those who surprise us, pleasantly, such as a father-son-grandson family from a farm in South Australia who left the cottage
very neat and clean, not at all what you would expect of 3 males with no female oversight.



2 days before June Long Weekend 

The people concerned had a daughter who was roughly 8 to 9 years old. Whilst booking in she immediately started using the lounges as a jungle gym. Her mother told her to stop it.
As you will see from the sequence of pictures below, she must have had quite a time once I left the premises.

The damage pictured below would have been both noticeable physically (I certainly noticed it the moment I walked in the next day) and by the sound of shattering timber.
After coming to the realisation that I had both not the time to try and organise an upholsterer to repair the lounge and no choice but to start on it immediately it was only once I had the job
underway that I thought to grab my camera, which is why the pictures start with the arm of the lounge separated from the chair.

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The main part of the lounge pictured above doesn't look like much, but to de-staple the arm to the point where it could then be removed took over an hour, a large pile of staples resulted.

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What you are looking at in the picture above is the arm removed from the chair, from what would normally be a top down view. The pile of several hundred upholsterers staples from the back
and bottom of the lounge are not in the picture. Another 100 odd staples gave access to the interior of the arm to the point you see here with the material and wadding pulled back.

loun1

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You can now see the damage done. They certainly don't make furniture like they used to........ However, it still takes considerable force to shatter timber as in this picture. Note that piece B1 has
rotated about 70 from its correct postion relative to B2 with both ends having torn away from their anchorages.

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Here is the arm repaired, with the covering back in place ready to be mated to the lounge.

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All fixed and ready for the next customer. Time elapsed was 4 hours on top of having to clean up the mess left by the family. The lounge and thus the cottage could not be used that night due to the
time needed for the timber glue to dry.

The other surprise was in the kitchen, the people concerned seemed to have a problem with beetroot, we still cannot believe they could have made so much mess in so many spots in one night...............

August 
Although I have seen youngish females wearing body glitter, I had never given the subject any attention until it came time to vacuum a loungeroom 2 days after some customers had been to a wedding.
In short, the stuff is insidious, it defies vacuuming no matter how hard you try. You would expect that it would work it's way into cut pile carpet, but it has a surprising grip on loop pile carpet too.
So, even after many vacuumings using a turbo head vacuum cleaner AND having the carpet professionally cleaned (steam cleaner); every so often I notice another piece of glitter asking for special attention.

January 
Upon walking into the 2nd bedroom of one cottage I noticed that the linen, blanket, pillow and doona were all in a ball on one of the beds. Quite often customers strip the bed before departure, some even
fold the sheets etc, but tumbling the whole lot into a ball was rather odd.
Whilst untangling it all I noticed that I was now the proud owner of pink sheets (formerly white ones)..... eeeek! Undoubtedly the result of what happens when you wash a red blanket and white sheets together.
However, much to my surprise, it is amazing just how effective bleach can be and the sheets are now back in service restored to their former colour.

July 
A single bloke had rented one of our cottages for just one night. After he had departed I walked in to the main bedroom to discover that he had used every pillow in the cottage - all 8 of them!
Which is just plain silly.

April 
When it came time to strip the linen from the Queen size bed in Blue Gum Cottage I couldn't fail to notice that the lower sheet was now black in a 2' diameter area, right about where the
occupant's backside would be.
Despite several washings it is still resisting my efforts to return it to it's natural colour.
It has had me stumped just what they did to it, just what would involve a bed, people and something black at that location? However my wife has come up with what seems the most
plausible theory - a new pair of black pyjama pants that haven't been washed and the dye has leaked to the sheet.

Blue Bush Cottage 
After departing, a customer who had stayed 3 days phoned and said "Oh, my child spilt a bottle of milk on the carpet. I have cleaned it up as best I can." This seemed fair enough:
- as I was cleaning another cottage and needed to get that done I didn't get to the cottage concerned till that afternoon. On opening the back door, there was no doubt about
there being a problem. The place stank of spoilt milk and it was pretty obvious that the event had not happened that morning.
The size of the stain on the carpet suggested quite a quantity of milk. All efforts to remove the stain and smell failed, so it was time to pay the carpet cleaners to come in, but......
There was still a back log of work from the recent storm and so we had to wait a week before the carpet cleaner could fit us in. All that time the cottage was unusable due to the overpowering smell.

Quite often we get the question "Why do you say in your confirmation letter that you reserve the right to allocate a different cottage if circumstances require"? The above is a good example of such an event!

May 
Yellow Gum Cottage.
It would appear that something got bleached - including our towel - which is now not in a presentable condition and cannot be repaired. As it is one of a set of 4, each costing $26
and no longer available, we now have to buy another $100 worth of towels.....

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May 
Blue Gum and Blue Bush Cottages.

Our best complaint ever -
"We have only one complaint, the cottages were too quiet, we have never known anywhere to be so quiet".
We were quite happy to hear this complaint!

July 
Yellow Gum Cottage.

Something got bleached........ again. Different customer, different towel set.

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September - The Phantom Gardener.
Blue Gum/Blue Bush Cottages - I was putting some rubbish in the bin when I noticed that someone had planted approximately 20 succulents plus 2 cacti in our garden.
Whoever did it, did not leave any message behind, so the whole thing is a bit of a mystery. The only reason we can think of is that they may have bought the plants
locally and then realised they may not be able to take them through the quarantine check point on the way home - so they planted them instead in our garden.
We don't object, it just came as a bit of a surprise!

February
Yellow Gum Cottage - The customer was either in a tearing hurry to leave or just plain lazy. They had removed all the coat hangars from the wardrobe and thrown them on the bed.

March
Blue Gum Cottage - Somebody de-programmed the TV. Only 2 channels could be received. Time to re-programme the other channels = 40 minutes!

Mid-April
Blue Bush Cottage - Customers vacated and left the back door wide open and the keys in full view on the kitchen table. Surely they didn't do this with their home
when they left on holiday. So why do it to us?

April
Blue Gum Cottage - again - Different customer, same TV de-programmed.
Sigh!

October
Blue Gum Cottage - Looks like somebody enjoyed a drink, 35 beer bottle caps spread across the back lawn.

December
Blue Bush Cottage - every coat hangar thrown in the bottom of the wardrobe.

December
Phone call at 6.30am, customer had booking for the next night. Customer stated they had arrived in town and wanted to book into the cottage.
Customer was informed that not only was the cottage still occupied from the night before, but quite likely the occupants were still asleep (hint).
Customer got quite upset. Even more so when informed that the cottage had to be cleaned before they could occupy it.

March
Yellow Gum Cottage - Customer phoned at 11.30am and wanted to occupy the cottage. The previous customers had not left until 10.00am,
so cleaning was still under way. Customer was told that cottage would not be available for at least another hour. Customer objected.

May
Yellow Gum Cottage - Potential customer phoned and asked to book cottage for that night and the next at 1pm.
Customer was told that cleaning was still happening and that cottage would not be available till 2pm. Customer phoned back to say they had
inspected the cottage and as it did not have any parking they were cancelling their booking. WHAT???
1) At the rear of Yellow Gum there is sufficient room to park:
- a) 1 x Car in the garage
- b) 1 x Car in the carport
- c) 1 x (with a bit of care) further car in the driveway.
2) There is enough room in the street out front of Yellow Gum to park over 70 to 100 cars: there is a bitumised vacant lot running the length of the block.
3) I was at Yellow Gum the entire time, the gates were shut and nobody entered the property.
Despite the fact that I own the property, customer refused to accept the fact that there was off street parking.
The only conclusion I can come to, is that what ever property they "inspected", it wasn't Yellow Gum and probably wasn't even in the same street!

June
Blue Gum Cottage - This was waiting for us when we went in to clean. Very nice of the customer to leave us a present, we don't expect our customers to provide gadgets for the cottage!

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Note says: 'Our gift to our "home away from home"'.


July
Blue Bush Cottage - Customer had used the dirt road that leads from the east to Menindee as a short cut to Broken Hill. As it had been wet, his 4 wheel drive had collected
copious quantities of the local red earth, but also the notorious grey river clay. He had then washed down his vehicle in the driveway and departed without making any
attempt to clean up after himself.
The grey clay is so sticky that it mostly cannot be washed away, it has to be scrubbed till it dissolves.
Time taken to clean driveway = 2 hours plus lots of water.
There are 3 car washes in Broken Hill. 2 of which have special bays for muddy vehicles.

November
Yellow Gum Cottage - Another note waiting for us when we went in to clean. It is nice to know when something needs replacing, the customer paying for the breakage is a bonus.

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Note says: '$2 - for a broken glass'.


April
Blue Bush Cottage - Another note waiting for us. However, this time the customer has pulled all the clips off the water proof fluro light in the carport, taken out the tube,
written on it and then replaced everything correctly (not at all an easy job - those clips are difficult).

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Note says: 'You are the light my life - believe in us'.


July
Yellow Gum Cottage - Apparently the customer appreciated the free mandarines, so much so, that they had eaten them right through the cottage spiting out the seeds as they went.....

May
Blue Gum Cottage - Call from customer, 9pm on a Tuesday night.
"We watched a DVD and when we finished we re-programmed the TV and now it wants a password".
Doug - "Why did you re-programme the TV?"
Customer - "We don't know."
Instructions then given to customer about location of TV manual and what password to enter. Customer stated they would find manual, fix TV and then were going to bed.
On cleaning the cottage on the Saturday morning a note was discovered stating the TV would not work as it still wanted a password. No TV manual could be located!
What they had actually done was have a good old fiddle with the settings, rather than the programming (channel allocation): TV would take password, but this had to be
input for each time the channel was changed including channels previously entered. Tried contacting shop where TV was bought, they were of no help. Had to wait until
Monday morning to phone manufacturer, who had to provide master password and detailed instructions on how to unlock TV. Replacement TV manual had to be purchased.
Time wasted = 2 hours.
We had thought that with the purchase of digital TVs the channel tuning/fiddling problem was behind us: apparently not.

September
We have received several call this year where people have found us listed on an oveseas website - all have been weird as the callers appear to think Australia and Sydney
are one and the same.
Latest caller from New Zealand (all have been) rang very early in the morning and it took a while to dawn on her that she had just woken us from a sound sleep - then didn't
endear herself when she said "oh that's right, Australia has a 2 hour time difference from new Zealand (actually it is 2 1/2 for us and 4 hours for Western Australia)".
She wanted to book for a week. Everything going okay until caller said:
"How far are you from Sydney airport?".
Answer "1000km."
"Oh, well what is nearest international airport?."
Answer "Adelaide."
Caller then said "but you are in NSW!" and then stated she would have to have a look and see where we were.
On checking, our listing on the overseas website clearly has us in the "NSW Outback" section and there is a specific "Sydney and Surrounds" section which we are NOT listed under.
It does make us wonder if geography is still taught in New Zealand schools.

November
A typical Broken Hill downpour was happening outside when we received a phone call from one of the cottages to say that the rear gutter was overflowing so much that water may enter the cottage.
On arriving at the cottage, the very considerate (and very wet) male customer had just succeeded in removing a cigarette packet from the gutter where it had been blocking the downpipe.
Nice of someone to throw that up into the gutter......

December
We received a phone call from some people who had been unfortunate enough to have an accident and were in need of a cottage for a few days to sort themselves out and make arrangements.
The couple concerned had decided to do the "Grey Nomad thing" and had sold their house and bought a new car and caravan. They had been on the road 3 days when everything went
haywire whilst overtaking a "B" Double truck.
Their combination had fishtailed resulting in both the car and caravan rolling. By chance both vehicles had finished up back on their wheels in the dirt on the side of the road.
The truck driver had immediately stopped and ran to their aid as had the vehicle immediately behind them which was being driven by an emergency services employee.
The truck driver had expected to find deceased persons and was very surprised to discover 2 alive but stunned occupants with only minor gravel rash.
The ES employee instructed them to not move at all as the next vehicle to arrive would be being driven by a ambulance qualified person and that they should be assessed fully.
They were then given a lift into Broken Hill whilst the various services recovered their vehicles.

Over the next few days they made arrangements to stay with their kids for Christmas and started the insurance claims.
As they now had no transport and were flying back to stay with an adult child and family they had to leave luggage etc with us.

2 months later they phoned and said they were coming through again and made arrangements to collect their things.
They stated that the insurance companies had been good to them and that they were now picking up their holiday where it had stopped. They had identical replacement of both vehicles.

See pics below. The only straight panel left on the 4wd was the rear door. Our thanks to the people concerned for the pictures and letting us use them.

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January
Phone call from customer: "We are ringing to let you know we have run out of gas."
"Okay, but I am curious how you discovered that?"
(The cottage they were in has a gas heater, but nothing else that runs on gas.)
Customer: "The heater went out so we checked the gas bottles."
Doug: "But is it 35 deg Centrigrade outside, why are you using the heater?".
Customer: "We feel the cold."
So I ordered more gas for them..............

May
Blue Bush Cottage - Customer had been sent our usual booking confirmation email which contains instructions for obtaining a key and the picture below of the key safe and
how to operate it. Customer rang and got the key code upon arriving in Broken Hill. As far as we knew, customer had key and was in cottage.
The next day we were talking to the occupants of the neighbouring cottage who informed us they had returned to the cottage to discover the arrived customers in confusion
as they could not figure out why after having input the numbers into the key safe wheels the back door of the cottage had not opended itself????
Read the instructions in the picture and decide for yourself if that is the events that would be expected.
We have looked at all the different key safes on the market and the type we have bought are the easiest to operate - you would be surprised how complicated and fiddly most are.
Typically we only have 1 customer per year who is defeated by the key safe and that has to be assisted to obtain their key.

keysafe

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November - most definitely NOT our property!
As you would imagine, we get comments about other accommodation providers from our customers. There are times when we see and or hear things that just dumbfound us.
Case in hand is a place in South Australia. See pics we were given below.
It is an "upmarket" establishment with a price to match.
The installation of an electrical device AND modification of such device within the water exclusion zone is and was at the time this place was built - illegal and highly dangerous.
Their toilet bowl is worn out to the point the underlying raw pottery is showing through, wouldn't you think they would replace it?

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bowl12

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December
Blue Gum Cottage - Upon arriving at cottage to clean, immediately noticed a set of linen and a blanket hanging on the line. Never a good sign as this usually means a wet bed.
On entering the cottage I found the note below.
PHEW! Thank heavens for considerate customers!
Having the presence of mind to bring and install the water proof was nice enough, the Christmas lollies were appreciated but not necessary.

proofloll

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Bleached towels mystery solved.
We have finally figured out why customers are ruining our towels with bleach. Apparently it is a "Face cleanser - scrub" used mostly by females.
Considering what it does to towels with just one use, one can only guess what it does to skin!

Often 
All of us know those little white plastic ties that come out of a dispenser gun and are used to hold tags onto new clothes etc in shops. We hate the things.
They blend into the carpet quite well, so they go unnoticed till the turbo head on the vacuum cleaner emits a strange noise and jams.

A Broken Hill Legend. 
Many years ago a local businessman let a furnished flat to some trainee doctors, they were here for 3 to 4 months. He had done some bragging at the local pub about
how good a deal he had pulled off.
When they left he discovered a pyramid of beer cans in one bedroom, the beer can that was the point of the pyramid had been forced into place against the ceiling.
This was in the days of steel beer cans and before people commonly owned trailers. So he had to hire a truck to cart them all away once he had spent many hours dismantling the pyramid.
It was also before the days of recycling deposits, so he couldn't even cash them in. It still gives those who saw it the chuckles even now - we wish we had seen it.

When we go on holidays. 
When on holidays the thing that annoys us is that the more we pay, the worse the shower. It seems like the cheaper the accommodation, the older the shower rose and thus the
bigger the holes in it resulting in a nicer shower.
The pricey places all seem to have "water miser" (not water saver) roses that let out a fine mist and nothing else. They are all but immpossible to wash your hair under.

Cricket Plague
Yellow Gum Cottage March 2011 - 8.30pm. Due to the Cricket Plague that had been going on for some weeks, we had been putting towels along the bottom of the
doors to stop them getting into our house at night.
On the above date we received a phone call from occupants of the cottage complaining about crickets being inside the cottage. The advice to use the towels was repeated,
occupants said they had done so but it was not working.
Upon arriving at cottage the place was lit up like a lighthouse (which most houses were not), every last light had been turned on and the cottage was attracting
nearly every cricket in the street.
I noted that there were NO TOWELS in position at either exterior door. I then proceeded to turn off all the outside lights and all but the loungeroom light.
The occupants objected as it meant they could not see the crickets!!!
Several methods were tried to capture the crickets without success until the occupants suggested the vaccuum cleaner - which was very effective.
It was made clear to the occupants that if they did not use towels and persisted in having all the lights on they would keep being cricket central.
Below are photos I took on the way home that night and the next morning at various locations.

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May
Blue Bush Cottage - Cottage appeared to have been left in a neat and tidy condition at first glance.
However, upon walking into main bedroom, the Queen bed had been stripped, but only one pillow was in evidence. In 2nd
bedroom both pillows were out of the beds and laying on top. It soon became evident that the 2 occupants had used all beds
but remade singles to look like they had not been used. Why people do this sneaky behaviour is a mystery.

Once something odd is discovered it is then time to do a more thorough check:
- Bedside tables moved 3" further away from beds.
- Lounge chairs also moved 3".
- TV cabinet moved 3".
- Display flower pot placed on top of eye level cupboard in kitchen.
- Door forced open on corner cupboard in kitchen and screws ripped out of hinge. This door is fixed closed due to the
corner cupboard not being in use.
- But weirdest of all, occupants had removed every 2nd curtain rail runner from loungeroom
curtain track, but only for the left hand curtain. They had then re-hung curtain so that every 2nd hook was dangling.
Runners were hidden behind TV.
End stop on track was tight and in position, so it is not as if it had fallen off and runners
had run out of the track.
Everything had to be put back correctly.
.

When we go on holidays. 
We all know that it is not cheap to stay in Sydney, even in the suburbs.
But what you get for your money is not much. When viewing the pictures below, keep in mind that the place concerned cost us $245 per night for 2 Adults and 1 Child in 2015.
As you will be able to see, it is decades (probably 30 to 40 years) since it was last painted internally!

Believe it or not, this place is rated as 4 Stars. So no surprises that we don't any longer have any faith in the star rating system.

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aircon002

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Ugly maker's stickers, never meant to be a permanent "feature" of the product. They are supposed to be removed by the purchaser/owner.

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In the picture above, you can see a hand rail has been installed for the toilet. Doubtless this was done to allow a claim to be made that the facilities were "disabled compliant".
That however was at the cost of able bodied people. Ever tried to sit upright with a 2" piece of metal pipe contacting your spine?

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stovehood001

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When manufactured goods are installed it is normal to take off all the protective coverings once the install is complete.
If however the coverings are not removed, over time they can bond to the object they are supposed to protect and become extremely difficult to remove
without damaging that object. You can see below where this is the case with this stovehood. The plasticised sticker has been left in place for some
years: somebody has unsuccessfully tried to remove it and gave up as it has bonded to the underlying metal. Using a scraper would scratch the metal.

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Apparently the repaint sometime in the distance past did not need to include the skirting boards......

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Decor can make a big difference to a customer's perception of accommodation, but ultimately it comes down to whether or not you can get a decent
sleep. In this case, that had pretty much been made impossible by the electric hot water systems located outside our room.
So how can something as innoccuous as a hot water system ruin a night's sleep?
In the first decade of the 21st Century the powers that be decided that normal HWS were no longer "green friendly", so they decided these would be
abolished. In their place, along with a generous subsidy and points towards a "green" rating came the horrors below. What they are is
effectively a traditional HWS with the electric element deleted and a reverse cycle air conditioner plumbed in on top. Much more electrically
efficient. However, there is one problem: these things make a roaring noise (a fan being driven way too fast for its size) that would do
justice to a WW2 bomber taking off.
Even with the window firmly shut AND wearing ear plugs, a decent sleep was not possible such was the noise level.

hws001

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June
Yellow Cottage - Arrived at cottage at 10.15am to commence cleaning, booking had been for one night in the school holidays (a busy time).
Daughter of customer was there and informed us that parents had "gone for a drive" and she did not know when they would return. When we tried to phone
them on their mobile, it was discovered it was in cottage and switched off. Parents returned at this time and were greatly surprised to find us there wanting to clean!
A hurried packing was carried out and they vacated by 10.30am.
The industry standard, Australia wide, is that accommodation must be vacated by 10am on day of departure. This requirement has been almost
universal for at least the last 50 years.
It is an ongoing mystery to us why customers find it surprising that we should want to clean a cottage ready for the next customer.......

June
Blue Gum Cottage - Phone call from customer "we have arrived in town but don't know where we are and need directions to the
cottage". Having had similar calls before, means we are used to this.
Q. "Describe what is around you (hoping not to the get answer 'houses' or worse.... 'weeds')".
A. "Dimmey's".
Q. "Ok, are you parked in front of it, or across the road?"
The above was an easy one and the customer duly arrived at the cottage a few minutes later.

Quite a few Broken Hill streets lack street signs, so a customer may have to drive a few blocks
until they find one. Experience has taught us that a surprising number of people cannot identify east from west or north from south. Broken
Hill is actually orientated at a 45 deg angle, which makes those directions unhelpful even if they know their compass directions.

July
Blue Gum Cottage - Once cleaning was underway, came the turn of the bathroom. It soon became evident that something
was wrong. Every horizontal surface felt like fine sandpaper.
Whatever it was resisted removal and was firmly adherred to everything it was on.
Puzzling as to what this could be, eventually, the only possible cause came down to hairspray. Given that the customer
only stayed 3 days, she must have used 1/2 can or more of hair spray each day.
Heaven's knows what her lungs must be like given hairspray is a glue and the quantities she would be breathing in.
Added time to clean over normal = 1/2 hour.

August
Blue Gum Cottage - Cottage looked to have been left quite neat and tidy with some plums prominently sitting on the kitchen table.
There was also a note on a single bed indicating that it had not been used (the pillow had been removed and used on another bed).
Cleaning commenced and then it was noticed what looked like a large blood spot (bigger than a 50c coin) on the carpet of the main bedroom. This meant that full blood precautions must now be taken. However, when removal was started in became obvious that it was actually plum juice.
Why would someone eat plums in the bedroom?
It was then noticed that there was also a smear of plum juice on the bedroom wall that also had to be removed.
Removing plum stain from a carpet is difficult, time consuming and presents the problem that the carpet is left wet and must be got dry before the next customer arrives!

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Note says: 'Not Used'.


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Plum juice - 2 dollar coin as size comparison.


August
Blue Gum Cottage - another phone call about a de-programmed TV enquiring
what the password is. Customer stated that he was attempting to play a DVD when he then went into the channel setting area.
Why people do this is beyond us. There is an instruction book that lives on the loungeroom coffee table that has the information needed to work the
TV. It is as easy as push "Source" button on the remote, select "AV1" with the arrow keys, push "Ok" button. No fiddling needed with programme settings.

January
Yellow Gum Cottage - on entering the cottage to clean, the card pictured below was lying on the table. We don't expect to get thank you cards, but
quite often do from customers who have stayed for a week of more. This one is the most quirky so far. Coincidentally one of the people concerned shared
the same first name as me.
.

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When we go on holidays - most definitely NOT our property. 
Yet another Adelaide accommodation venue with the wrong attitude to customer safety - we seem to be noticing this is the norm rather than the exception!
The smoke detector in the pictures was the only one thus as it had been de-activated, there was no fire protection, it is the "wired in"
(to mains power) type and is supposed to have a 9V battery in case the power fails.
The operator appears to not be inclined to replace the battery. Without the battery, the detector will still beep, so the operator has disabled it by unplugging it from the mains power.

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A customer has suggested I should call this webpage our "Hall of Infamy", that is tempting.....

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