We booked our holiday at Pillar Barn through Milkbere Cottage Holidays.
The barn is beautiful, the layout is quirky but perfectly suited to a family holiday. The courtyard that it is situated on is well kept and obviously tended to with TLC. The surrounding pubs and restaurants are all excellent although we did struggle slightly for 'days out' in the area. We exhausted our options fairly quickly.
We returned from our lovely family holiday to an email from Denise at Milkbere Cottage Holidays explaining that they had received contact from the owners of extra cleaning charges and costs for damage that we had caused to the property. I called, initially thinking that perhaps they had mixed us up with another family? I had a conversation with Louise (the manager) who confirmed that in fact, it was indeed our party that she claimed we had left Pillar Barn in a 'state' with damage to the shower, the windows, the walls, carpet and furnishings.
To be crystal clear here ... our party consists of a mother and father, in their mid/late 70's, father is blind, we have a guide dog that assists him. Two daughters and their husbands all in their 40's.
Louise from Milkbere assured me that the cleaners had taken 'photographic evidence' of the damage and extra cleaning that was charged for. She informed me that our £200 security deposit was being withheld by the owners.
Absolutely flabbergasted at the accusation, we were determined to prove our innocence and endured ten days of constant email communication between us and gradually, over the following days, with my own knowledge of the barn and me providing photographs that disputed each claim made against us, we were informed that in fact, it wasn't our party that had damaged the window, the report of the damage & the photograph was included in error, it was in fact a previous occupant.
The 'broken shower' that apparently incurred a plumbers expertise and replacing was in fact a missing handle, we were able to provide photographic evidence that the shower handle was there when we left, once I had provided the photo we were informed that the handle had been located.
We were also advised of a £10 fee for the removal of a bin bag that we left on top of the wheelie bin. To be clear, refuse and recycling is collect three weekly, Pillar barns bins were half full when we arrived. With this in mind, if you chose to book, please be aware that any rubbish over and above the wheelie bin will incur a costly charge.
The cleaners submitted a report claiming that we left stains on the sofas, excessive dirt on the carpet and scuff marks up the walls, we were accused of allowing a dog to sleep on a bedroom rug and allowing a dog to sleep on all of the soft furnishings including beds. This is incorrect. Guide dogs are trained to an impeccable level of obedience, they sleep in their own bed at all times, they are however permitted in any room that a blind person wishes to frequent. That said, we hoovered the barn twice during our stay as we are an exceptionally clean and proud family.
Despite us requesting on several occasions for copies of the invoices from the cleaning company and the plumber, they were never received.
Sadly, communication with Milkbere and the owners was written in an exceptionally bitter manner and with zero professionalism so we instructed our solicitor to proceed with legal action.
We have since been refunded our deposit, in full and no longer wish to deal with any of the parties involved ever again.
We were advised in writing by Louise at Milkbere Cottage Holidays that leaving any unfounded public defamation statements on social media would be dealt with by the owners; Professor [--], Mr [--] and Milkbere Cottage Holidays via legal avenues...
Whilst in contact with our solicitor, we were able to clarify what content our reviews should include and we can confirm that this is an honest review based on our own experience.
(It might be worth a read of the review left on TripAdvisor for 'Knowles, Colyton nr Lyme Regis' dated 22.08.2016 from a contributor not linked to us in any way.)
To summarise, we experienced an incredibly upsetting and toxic end to our holiday!