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Reasonable Policies But Ridiculous Enforcement

, , , , , | Working | January 25, 2023

I have a rather large friend group from college that started as a weekly board game group with eight members and grew over time to a group with (currently) eighteen members. Over the last several years, however, many of our friends have graduated and moved out across the US. These close friends have since been missing out on getting to hang out, and a lot of the original group members have never met some of the newest members.

As a result of missing our friends, we start planning a get-together for early next year. As my husband and I were the first in the group to get married, we are the sort of de facto “parents” of the group, so we get put in charge of planning and setting up the hangout.

I start looking on a popular app for rentals for a weekend get-together that will fit with our lowest-budget members. I find a couple I like and send everyone some options.

We pick a place and a date, and I reach out to the host to explain what we’re doing and make sure they’re on board with our plans. Everything is a go, and all my friends, being decent people, send me their share of the cost of the rental.

I go to my computer and set up the rental with the right number of guests (seventeen), the dates (two months away), and the location (five minutes from where I live and the college we all attended). I put in my payment information and hit submit.

The rental returns an error message, informing me that my reservation has been flagged as a “party risk”, so I can’t book this stay. For context, [Rental App] doesn’t allow parties to be hosted at any of their locations due to the high risk of damage to the host’s homes.

Okay, no problem. I reach out to the host again, tell her that the site wouldn’t let me book, and ask her for a pre-approved booking invitation to allow me to book. The host agrees and sends me the invite.

I follow the link, set it up again, and hit “reserve”. The same error message pops up; I’m not allowed to reserve the stay.

Okay, fine, the system’s a little buggy. No big deal. I reach out to the support team and tell them what’s going on. The host knows about the friend reunion and knows we accept responsibility for any damages that occur during our stay, etc.

I get connected to a support member via live chat.

Support Member: “The error you’re seeing is an automatic flag because you hit certain conditions for ‘possible party’. Namely, you’re booking a short stay in a large house for a lot of guests, you are under twenty-five, and you live locally.”

Me: “Okay, I understand. The host is on board, though, and is willing to let us stay. We just want to come to play board games and eat junk food with our long-distance friends for a weekend.”

Support Member: “This flag is not reversible. There is no possible way for you to book this stay. Neither the [Rental] host nor I can override this restriction.”

Me: “I want you to know that I don’t blame you for this, but this is really stupid.”

I ended up having to reach out to one of my friends, who is twenty-four and lives in a different state, to book the stay with her account instead. She booked exactly the same location for exactly the same dates and price with the exact same people attending. But she lives in a different state, so it’s fine. Dumbest system I’ve ever heard of.

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