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Negative Comments by guests

(none who actually stayed!)

Forest Edge is not immune to negative feedback and generally this includes Constructive feedback, on improving the concept in FUTURE, while realising that we are doing our best with the capital, manpower and time available to us at PRESENT.  Guests generally raise any glitches immediately, enabling us to correct, without negatively impacting the entire experience. Many of the positive comments posted on our website come from them. THANK YOU!!!
Other negative feedback within general, otherwise positive feedback, has centred around the following themes, all of which are CLEARLY STATED ON OUR WEBSITE. Since we tell you this stuff up front, please ask us to find you another venue if any of this bothers you, as we do not do refunds:

  • We are not in Knysna town – nope, we are off the beaten track on the edge of the indigenous Forest
  • We have donkeys on site – yes, Hansel and Gretel are loved by 99% of our guests
  • Baboons and other wildlife can come onto the property – yes, we are proudly a nature-lovers’ retreat
  • We have no no restaurant or bar facilities – we offer self-catering cottages with great country restaurants nearby or pre-ordered food packs
  • We offer no aircon – nope, we offer fans and it is very hot only a hand-ful of days a year
  • Only a small Intex splash swimming pool – rain water is a luxury and there are large, natural forest rock pools nearby
  • The last few km to us is dirt road – yes, we are on a farm off the beaten track
  • The weather is too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry – yes, and not under our control.
  • Deposits are not refundable – yes, we are a tiny resort and we turn away other guests when you pay for us to keep a booking for you (this is after all the definition of a deposit as you purchased the RIGHT to those nights).

Out of the approximately 23 689 people that have visited us over the 11 years ending August 2016, we have had the following 2 complaint letters about us, dating back to 2010:

Sandra Kuter (or her husband?), 9 July 2010: “We were very very disapointed (sic). The camp area looks degraded with tree stumps, building stones, potholes and 2 stinky dams full of muck. There were plastic sheets on what one could hardly call lawn areas – it’s more like muddy grassy blotches to collect water. And look out for the donkey poo all over the place. The cabin was so very small with awful furniture that looked like it was 20 years old that the dog had been sleeping on for the same amount of time. The pine kitchen looks like something from a squatter camp. The shower is outside with no views or plants – just great big green reservoir tanks and the stinky dam. So ladies especially- this is not for you. There is not even a hand shower in the bathroom. Ask yourself why most of the website pictures are close ups and some are certainly not from the same area. The view from the cottage we had was of dense overgrown bush and a barbed wire fence (not pretty at all) with a braai area that looked like one you would get at a municipal park. My wife was so disgusted especially for that price that she refused to stay there. The camp just looks degraded and unkempt. This should be a boot camp for men only needing some form of punishment- I am serious guys. This for R1000.00 per night is ludicrous. It would only be worth R350 per night. Ronel the manager refused to give our money back and was exceptionally rude to us and not accommodating at all. She actually told us she would not give us our money back because how else would they pay their staff. When I told her that it is far too much money to pay for a place like this, she said that we should have done our homework properly and that we chose to pay R1000 per night. We are going to take on the AA awards and find out how on earth was it possible that this Lodge received an award???”

Forest Edge responds below (with reference to the video recording of proceedings):
We have compassion that this guest is clearly not suited to Forest Edge – Nature-lovers’ Retreat and we indeed maintain that they should have done their homework before booking. Our website very clearly shows information relating to the points in dispute and we will gladly alter content if anyone can show that the reality is different from what is presented.
Fact 1 – Forest Edge terms & conditions are clear, up front, about deposits being non-refundable.  Still, we offered to consider a refund if the guest could show us in writing exactly what on our website construes misrepresentation:– we have received nothing from the guest apart from this posted review. These guests were part of a group of 12 people who booked 3 cottages at Forest Edge. Although this couple left without checking in, the other 10 of the same party all stayed on (including the other 2 persons in the specific cottage in question) and they all provided us with good written feedback.
Fact 2 – The guest complains about paying R1000, which, for the four of them sharing a 2-bedroomed cottage, works out to R250 pppn, which is considered a budget rate in South Africa, especially given that the weekend in question is for the most popular weekend of the year: the Knysna Oyster Festival marathon. The guest repeatedly lamented that they could have stayed on the far superior Thesen Island for R800 per Couple instead. He also remained quite adamant that their friends could stay on in their cottage.
Facts 2-7 – TRUE: There is a small heap of gravel on site, specifically for the reason of filling in any hollows developing in our roads after rain. There are tree stumps on site, proud evidence of our alien invasive eradication project (which is legislatively governed in South Africa). The 4 green tanks near the cottage are rain water storage tanks and therefore have no smell. There is actually 1 dam and 3 ponds on site, all filled with rain water, water lilies, fish, frogs etc. The cabin is 67sqm as per the floorplan posted on our website. The cup baths in the bathroom, in line with our Victorian theme, are not suited to hand showers. Our well-publicised donkeys, Hansel and Gretel, are pictured on our website and it stands to reason that they “poo”, which is why the property is cleaned first thing each morning.
Fact 8 – As shown comprehensively on our website, Forest Edge is right on the edge of the Indigenous Knysna Forest in the foothills of the Outeniqua mountains – the thick bush the guest refers to is the healthy indigenous growth of this forest, which is on SANPARKS property on which we border. We have no pine trees (the guest insisted that this is what he expected and wants) as pines are alien and not indigenous forest.
Fact 9 – Apart from two antique pieces in the cottage (wardrobe and basin stand), none of the other furniture is older than 3 years as it is a recently built cottage; and some pieces are even brand new (e.g. the 1-day old double bed).
Fact 10 – Since the entire interaction was recorded on our cctv system, with witnesses at both ends of the conversation, we can only deduct that the guest considers someone saying “no” to their demands, as rude. The evidence shows that the guest accused Forest Edge of “suckering people” into staying against their will; the guest demanded that Forest Edge releases the names and contact details of all people who enquired about the Oyster Festival weekend to them (which we obviously did not, in line with our privacy policy). They then asked us to phone all those people to “sucker” one of them into staying in their cottage so that they could get their money back (not sure what they wanted us to do with the other 2 people they booked into their cottage). They also suggested that their friends would pay for the money we must refund them. The guest threatened outright to use his extensive professional photography skills to take pictures such as to show everything in the worst possible light without context to aid their cause. They also accused AA Travel of never having seen Forest Edge and handing out rewards for no reason; and that any good feedback about Forest Edge (which is what AA Travel receives 99% of the time) is a result guests somehow being forced.
In summary – just like the best 5-star hotel is not for all travellers, Forest Edge is not for all travellers. We try our best to present ourselves in a way to attract those who are suited and who will enjoy the experience. We believe that this guest did not research Forest Edge before booking which is apparent in the guest’s accusation that we are not in Knysna town as they expected, that they expected a pine plantation and not indigenous forest, and that they kept referring to a map showing the cottages in a circle, which they could not point out to us. We understand the difficulty when a guest realises that they are not suited to a destination, but we do not believe it to be fair to then lash out at the destination in this manner.
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Annarie Johnson, 23 Jan 2010: “I enquired about the Froggy Pond cottage as we were paricularly (sic) interested in having a view of the pond. Ronel however informed us that Froggy Pond was already booked and insured (sic) us that Fairy Den will have the “same water effect” as per the attach (sic) email. In good faith we paid the full amount as requested. Upon arrival, we however discovered that the pond was still in the constuction phase and the ‘water effect’ as claimed by Ronel was merely a foot deep at the bottom of a 3 metre hole. Not to mention it was fenced off with a gate and lock. We also have photo’s (sic) that we can gladly supply at your request. When we approached Ronel about this issue she admitted to being at fault due to not supplying us with photographs (which according to her is on the website, which we still cannot find!!), and she could not understand that we felt we were misled. We however made our decision on where to stay in Knysna based on the AA accreditation and the fact that the (sic) had a promise of a ‘water effect’. To add to our frustration Ronel also swore at us in front of our children (asked what the [email protected] did we expect) and called us “anal” for wanting to have a water effect! We deciding (sic) that we did not want to stay at forest edge (sic) because we felt misled and was refunded half of our deposit. However I feel that due to the fact that we WERE MISLED we were due ALL OUR MONEY BACK.” and “I thought I could personally lodge a complaint on the Forest Edge website. However it seems that they choose what negative feedback they wish to post there.”

Forest Edge responds below, and we thank the mass of responses from guests who stayed previously or at the time of this incident – all offering support for Forest Edge once this was publicised.

Since Mrs Johnson submitted to AA & variations posted on several websites, Forest Edge Response here:
Fact 1 – Forest Edge terms & conditions are clear on deposits being non-refundable.
Fact 2 – Forest Edge terms & conditions are clear that no specific cottage can ever be guaranteed.
Fact 3 – Fully completed construction of new dam at 17 Dec ’09 (per Axiom Development letter).
Fact 4 – Forest Edge e-mailed Mrs Johnson on 28 Dec that ‘there has recently been a dam dug right next to Fairy Den cottage which will also offer the water effect’.
Fact 5 – Photos of said dam publically available since 17 Jan and guest confirmed booking 19 Jan.
Fact 6 – Knysna suffers the worst drought in 132 years, widely publicised, now declared a disaster area. Forest Edge has NO municipal water supply (no piped in water) and relies on rain water and what can be purchased by the truck load when available, at exorbitant cost. Our guests have always had water for household use, but using scarce water in severe drought conditions in order to keep dams/ponds full to look pretty, is wasteful and not sustainable.
Fact 7 – Fencing in of deep dams is a safety precaution (e.g. kids) and an insurance pre-requisite.
Fact 8 – Forest Edge refunded 50% of full amount to Mrs Johnson as a courtesy.
Mystery – What all was said by all parties can unfortunately not be proven either way. A cctv system has been installed in reception for the future protection of all parties.
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WHAT TO LEARN FROM THIS FEEDBACK

It remains Forest Edge’s responsibility to show exactly what we offer, what our ambiance is about and what our terms and conditions are – in as many ways, places and stages of the booking as possible.  If you see anything that appears to be misrepresented on our website or in the booking confirmation documents you receive, please contact us immediately and be prepared to share detailed specifics rather than vague accusations.

Once we’ve done our bit, it is the guest’s responsibility to fully research their options and to ensure that Forest Edge will meet their preferences and requirements before they book.  The terms and conditions are presented during booking and we encourage guests to read it and not just click on accept.  Detailed information is provided as part of the booking confirmation which guests should also take responsibility for reviewing.  Once guests are staying with us, we can only address a concern if they tell us about it and provide us the opportunity to address.

Fair, no?

The newly dug dam @ 9 Jan
The newly dug dam @ 9 Jan
Knysna Self Catering Accommodation
Knysna Self Catering Accommodation
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