As a small business, the team at Home Base Holidays prides itself on answering members' and enquirers' questions personally, promptly and thoroughly.
Most questions can be answered quite simply but occasionally an on-going conversation develops. The Italian and UK members' names below have been changed but this is a good example of a recent such conversation. It is reproduced in full as it covers questions first time members often have, along with useful information for the Italian (a member of our partner site, Guardian Home Exchange) on an area of London Mark knows very well:
Sent: 09 September 2016 14:01
Message : Hi, I'm a member and I'm about to do my first swap. My problem is of trust: I'd like to know if there's any way to verify a user's identity. The person I should be exchanging with has an account that expires the day after our arrival. She proposed those dates and I'd like to know it's not a "smart" move not to be accountable for anything.
Should I trust someone with the "Experienced Exchanger" logo? - Maria, Rome
Inviato: Venerdì 9 Settembre 2016 16:26
Oggetto: RE: Verification
Thanks for your email and really good to hear you have your first swap lined up. Arranging an exchange is an agreement between the two sets of members and so does rely on trust. It is therefore really important to have good ongoing communication with your potential exchange partners so that you both are comfortable with the swap agreement. It is also good to arrange a couple of phone/Skype calls with your exchange partners to go through details of the exchange.
When a member indicates that they are an experienced exchanger it can often be reassuring, especially as a first time exchanger, to ask if they can put you in touch with someone they have previously swapped with.
With regards to their membership expiry dates, it may well be that they are planning to renew before their membership is due to expire. In discussions you could always mention this to them as they will likely understand that you will feel more comfortable if their membership remains live on the site.
Do get in touch if you would like me to look at the member you’re in contact with so that I can double check everything looks as it should.
Thanks again and kind regards,
Sent: 09 September 2016 15:31
The member is Mary Foster, property number is HE00000. She has no pictures on the website but has sent me some and I verified with Tin Eye they were not taken from any random website.
Thanks for your email, it's pretty reassuring.
Inviato: Venerdì 9 Settembre 2016 17:34
On checking member Mary’s listing, I noticed she lives on a small street in London that I used to live on – Folgate Street. It really is a fantastic location with so much to see on foot (Spitalfields market, Brick Lane, Colombia Road flower market, Tower of London, Shoreditch, London’s financial district and much more) as well as excellent transport links to explore more of London (Liverpool Street Station or Shoreditch Station are both under a five minute walk).
If you have any photos she sent from the outside of her home or local area I’d be able to confirm the location.
All the best,
Sent: 09 September 2016 16:56
Sure, here are the pics. From what you can get from her membership everything seems all right, then? I'm more inclined towards trusting people but to my husband all this is probably too good to be true :)
Inviato: Venerdì 9 Settembre 2016 19:46
Everything looks fine with Mary's membership. Have you also spoken with her over the phone? It can always be reassuring to actually speak to the other member rather than arranging everything via messages and emails.
The photos are from the area (makes me miss the it!). The brick houses are on Folgate Street and the second photo is of the square that is just around the corner from Folgate Street and so in between Spitalfields Market and Liverpool Street station (the Gherkin skyscraper in the background).
Do let me know if you’d like me to check any additional details or if you’d like any more information about the area.
All the best,
Sent: 09 September 2016 20:02
I'm much more relieved after you've talked to me. You've been extremely helpful. If there's a way to leave a review for the service you're providing, it's a 10 :)
Inviato: Martedì 13 Settembre 2016 15:11
Thank you so much for your lovely feedback! We’d love to receive your review of the service as we could include it on our testimonials page. We also have a Facebook page that allows users to leave reviews: https://www.facebook.com/guardianhomeexchange/
Do get back to me if you have any questions in the lead up to your exchange. Also if you’d like any information about the Spitalfields area of London I’d be very happy to help.
Thanks again and kind regards,
Sent: 14 September 2016 17:23
Since you've lived there, one important thing for us to know is if there are any playgrounds in the immediate area and any supermarket.
Inviato: Giovedì 15 Settembre 2016 10:18
I’ve just seen your lovely feedback on our Facebook page – thank you so much!
Although Spitalfields is a fantastic area of London, one thing it is missing a bit is green space. That said, under 10 minutes' walk from Folgate Street is Spitalfields City Farm which is a very small city central farm ideally suited for kids. Here’s a link to the farm: http://www.spitalfieldscityfarm.org. The farm is just off from Brick Lane and next to the farm is a small playing field.
In terms of supermarkets, there are a couple of Tesco Metro shops within a five minute walk – these are quite small city supermarkets but should be fine for picking up the basics. One of the Tesco Metro stores is on Bishopsgate just opposite Liverpool Street station. The other Tesco Metro (probably the best option) is on Commercial Street and is under a two minute walk from where you’ll be staying. Having said that, Spitalfields Market has lots of places to pick up some nice food and Brick Lane (especially on a Sunday when Brick Lane comes to life) has lots of exciting food options too.
I hope this helps but do get back to me if you have any questions about the area.
All the best,
Sent: 11 November 2016 18:56
just wanted to say that we made the swap and it was fantastic!
Thanks a lot for all your help.
Inviato: Martedì 15 Novembre 2016 19:49
That is so good to hear that you had a fantastic exchange in London. You were in such a great location to explore London – so much right on your doorstep. Did you visit some of the local markets? The area around the apartment you stayed in is changing all the time; apparently by the end of 2017 Time Out magazine will be opening a big new food market directly opposite Spitalfields market – a good reason to return!
If you ever get time, it would be great to hear about your swap in London. You could add it as a trip report on the site and we could publish it in a future newsletter.
All the best,
Sent: 16 November 2016 14:09
I followed your advice, since it's proved successful before, and added a trip report.
I hope you were on holiday and not sick, though.
Anyway, thanks again for your help, it's been truly fun (and swapping homes is so much cheaper!!).