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AirBnB's 11 Star Rating Grates on Vacation Rental Managers

By Ron Lee
Published: 09/01/20 Topics: Comments: 0

AirBnB Hubris

It doesn’t happen to all of the technology titans, but it does infect most of them.

Brian Chesky, one of the founders of AirBnB, is the latest patient to be stricken.

The disease is called Hubris and it can knock down a person at any age, but younger business people are more prone to allow themselves to get sick. It starts when young kids have a good idea, and grow it fast with the new opportunity of world domination that the Internet often allows them to believe, as we used to say in high school, that "Their XyMTX don't stink."

AirBnB has always had a major problem lurking below the surface. Started as a couch-surfing business, they quickly learned that vacation rental homes rent for much higher rates and there are millions of them. That enables big growth.

Guests, who are looking to share a room and meet a new host friend in faraway places, can make good renters of vacation rental homes, but not when a website like AirBnB intentionally confuse them.

In a 2018 article titled "The 11-Star Rating", Chesky inadvertently revealed that he still completely misunderstands the "whole house" vacation rental business.

Although it is impossible to get any higher than a 5-star rating on AirBnB, Chesky admonishes "hosts" who don't do things to get his impossible 11-star experience rating. But here are his dictates that don't fit vacation rental guests.

ARRIVAL - He expects hosts to meet every guest at the front door and greet them upon arrival. Never be late it admonishes.

The problem is that guests who rent homes want to arrive whenever they want, even late at night, and not to be bothered by people they don't know. They often fly or drive long distances and simply want to arrive, plunk down their gear and relax.

Oddly, AirBnB is now requesting that all listings offer "self-check-in" due to the Covid virus. So why would Chesky contradict that and violate the privacy that whole house guests expect? Seems he isn't even aware of what his company is doing. (More hubris.) Proof he loves guest rooms, but not vacation rentals.

ACTIVITES - Then he says a host should go ahead and make activity reservations for guests even before they ask. "I know you like surfing. There's a surfboard waiting for you. I've booked lessons for you."

This is more nonsense in a private vacation home. Clearly, Chesky hasn't tried this tactic himself. What day are the lessons? Can they be cancelled? Are they for all 12 people staying at the house? Who pays (guest, homeowner, manager)? Having a well-crafted welcome book that lists local activities is what visitors want. But to think you, the host, knows what a vacation rental guest family wants is presumptuous at least and hubris at best. There is that word again.

STUPIDITY - Chesky's delusional thoughts are amplified by his request that hosts do things like this: "By the way, you can use my car." No insurance agent in their right mind would allow a home owner to give their car keys to people without signing massive disclosure agreements. In fact, your insurance carrier won't let you do it at all.

In most jurisdictions, it would be illegal to do so without a business license specific to car rentals, and those rightfully come with many requirements and stipulations. Leaving out bikes, surfboards, jet skis and other equipment for guests is also verboten.

Sure, maybe Chesky was trying to make a point, but this is from a guy out of touch with Vacation Rental owners and managers.

THE BEATLES - Then he proposes that "There'd be 5,000 high school kids cheering my name with cars welcoming me to the country" (kinda like the Beatles arrival in America in 1964).

Boy, I am sure your neighbors would like that one. After the hundreds of legal challenges that AirBnB faces worldwide, how can he not recognize the problems he is giving the Vacation Rental Industry?

Or how about, he says to property owners, "You'd be there with Elon Musk and you're saying, 'You're going to space.'" I'm sure your insurance agent would love that one.

IMMATURITY - Lastly, Chesky resorts to vulgar profanity to emphasize how great he thinks all his ideas are. Clearly, the sign of a young man who has not had to become an adult at all, because he got lucky with a good idea and lots of venture capital.

Everyone understands that Chesky is trying to emphasize giving customers more than they pay for. And everyone agrees. A nicely designed whole-home, hospitality clean, with a good welcome book are all appreciated.

But at vacation rentals, guests want to make their own plans. They don't want to be interrupted and they certainly don't want some punk telling them what they will be doing. Maybe it works for single room rentals, but the anticipation of in-your-face hosts sets expectations in inexperienced guests that vacation rentals do not offer.

VRBO guests are savvy to how whole-home rentals work and are considerate and easy to work with. AirBnB guests, especially those having seldom stayed in a vacation rental home, arrive with unreasonable thoughts that AirBnB is planting in their heads, without clarifying how homes are different.

How about "We won't be arriving until 1am, can you still meet us when we arrive?" Or "I like your host photo, can you take us out to the best restaurant in town?"

Vacation Rental owners know that Chesky's diatribe is hyperbole to the highest degree. We can understand he wants to sell the AirBnB experience as something more than it is. But he is over-promising what cannot be delivered and which must be called out for what it is - dangerous for the Vacation Rental Industry.

Chesky's hubris has accelerated the growth of vacation rentals on top of the increases that VRBO and other websites have done. But his methods have also peeved property owners, neighbors, cities, counties and even countries across the globe. Can someone talk to the kid and rein him in, before he kills rental rights in so many communities?

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Author: Ron Lee – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0785 – 09/01/20

Managing a business from within the CHOP

By Wm. May
Published: 06/29/20 Topics: Government Comments: 0

Anarchists in Capitol Hill Occupant Zone CHOP Seattle, WA
Self Appointed Anarchists at CHOP

It has been local, national and even international news. After numerous marches for Black Lives Matter, confrontations with police took place at barricades literally one floor below our offices in Seattle's vibrant Capitol Hill Neighborhood. (You can see our Orange building in the photo.)

The protests and participants have organized themselves first into CHAZ, the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone which morphed into CHOP, the Capital Hill Opposition Protest. Our family lives just 3 blocks away so working and living here has become a nightmare.

Ours is a administration office for a network of vacation rental management companies, inns and resorts located mostly around Washington State and Idaho. Staff do accounting, advertising, reservations and software engineering.

The building is what might be called an "art loft" building built first as an automobile dealership a century ago, with 20 foot ceilings and huge windows overlooking a lovely park. Unlike downtown skyscrapers, the space offers peace and calm for a staff here long hours 7 days a week.

The neighborhood has always been the focus of groups marching for multiple causes. Minorities of all types, those opposed to the military, and those supporting gay rights march outside our door multiple times each year. Twenty years ago during the World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings in Seattle, riots erupted.

Then, we lived about a dozen blocks away but even from that distance each night I was heart broken to see my 8 year old son frightened to hear the screaming, yelling and flash bang devices used to drive away self described anarchists.

My conclusion then was that no one, absolutely no one, has the right to make him feel that way, regardless of their reasons. I did not imagine it would happen here again.

Dr. Martin Luther King and his contemporaries made a point of never chanting when they marched, for fear that adrenalin rushes would cause participants or the police to become violent. Silence is golden, while vicious noise and anger do nothing for the cause.

This time however, in Seattle and elsewhere, with the outrage over the killing of George Floyd and others, the chanting, screaming and profanity outside our windows made it difficult to do our jobs. Most staff members were working from home due to Covid-19.

Vicious riots began in Seattle's downtown, just 2 miles from our location. Citizens were shocked at the destruction, theft and violence. Police responded to the relief of many people but were denounced by individual protestors.

Having been driven out of downtown, the marchers converged on our neighborhood to confront the police who then set up barricades. Seemingly 24 hours a day, for days on end, protestors displaying an unbridled anger and aggressiveness, pushing forward until someone - police or protestors - made the confrontation violent usually at night. In addition to well-meaning protestors surely anarchists and other trouble makers were attracted to the chaos.

Police employed tear gas, flash bang devices and large numbers of officers to cause the crowds to disperse. Eventually, over the objection of the police chief, the Mayor gave orders to abandon the precinct building and have the officers run away.

For we essential workers, being on the second floor gave us some safety, but we felt compelled to sneak into the building each morning and depart each night from the opposite side of the block. At night self-proclaimed armed men challenging workers coming and going. Some demanded money from businesses.

As soon as the police fled. a large group of people block streets, defaced every building the area, and took over the Cal Anderson park that lays directly below my window. People are camping in the park, tearing up lawns to build gardens. Hawkers are out selling or giving away food, T-shirts and who knows what.

In the past few days there have been 7 shootings, 2 people killed and 2 in critical condition. Parents of victims, are pleading with protestors to go home, as is the Mayor, the police chief and a coalition of African American clergy. Unfortunately some city council people are justifying the violence due to "systemic racism".

Before this began I enjoyed strolling through our lovely park on my way to work. Now I avoid the park because it saddens me to see bums building campfires in the emptied kiddie wadding pools.

At night I hear gun shots, fireworks and constant chanting from over 3 blocks away. As loud explosions wake me at 3 or 4am I can only wonder what else is next. Is there no law or order?

I have enjoyed living in this small neighborhood in this big city. I grew up in a small town and now for the first time ever, I am plotting how to get back to places where sensibility abounds.

Today CHOP's territory is slowly decreasing. Some barricades have been removed. The number of participants has eroded. Police hope to reoccupy their precinct but are going slow to not offend anyone.

It makes me wonder, why those who have been victimized feel its their right to victimize others. I want to support the needs of everyone, but by using violence and employing anarchy they are harming their own cause.

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Author: Wm. May
Blog #: 0766 – 06/29/20

HelpBookMe Implements Version 3.0 or S2D2 Pricing System

By William May
Published: 06/03/20 Topics: Software, Sunspots Vacation Rentals, Vacation Rentals, Vortex Managers Comments: 0

Although the Vortex Organization first inserted yield management tools into their HelpBookMe lodging management system years ago, today they announced release of version 3.0 of tools referred to as S2D2 for "Seasonal, Strategic, Dynamic and Distributed".

Salman Arshad, chief engineer notes, "Artificial Intelligence pricing is based on the simple idea of Supply and Demand. But predicting supply and demand is a complicated undertaking because variables change frequently and quickly."

Yield Management, sometimes called "Dynamic Rates", increase or decrease based on the general economy, local and regional economic factors, the features and amenities of each property, local events and circumstances, prior day, week, month and quarter pricing, competitor rates and, even, the weather.

S2D2 rates are based on artificial intelligence that queries over 8 billion dollar points every evening, chooses the factors affecting every individual property, and then applies them to our geographic markets right down to the individual vacation rental home or lodging unit.

"Of course our pricing is based on sophisticated and ever changing algorithms, but we still apply manual review, oversight and, sometimes, intervention," said Kate Quinn, account manager at Vortex. "That is why our product name acknowledges all of those important factors."

"Studied" means constant inspection of what competitors are charging for similar and dis-similar properties. "Strategic" rates are set differently depending on time of the year, the season, and in accordance with local events.

"Dynamic" means that rates are adjusted regularly based on occupancy, advance notice and other factors. "Distributed" requires properties be widely advertised on every productive website and through conventional media to ensure that those who might demand the property know it exists.

You cannot have one of those elements without the others, otherwise the science of yield management would be incomplete. After extensive testing, results show that S2D2 version 3.0 can increase both occupancy and rates, resulting in more profit for property owners.

"It is counter-intuitive to recognize that S2D2 does not care what the day of the week is, what the season is or even if there are holidays." explained Arshad. "Instead, with constant calculation, the software foresees trends and adjusts rates to be at the sweet spot that fosters both occupancy and optimal rate."

Another reason yield management works so well is that, surprisingly, travelers have become accustomed to it and, in fact, learn to use variable rates to change their behavior. In other words, demand for lodging ebbs and flows based on rates.

The HelpBookMe technology and especially version 3.0 help charge the highest possible rate on the most popular dates. Modest rates are charged during shoulder seasons. And low rates are set for slow seasons to attract guests who would not otherwise consider booking.

Yield management shines during good economies, but quickly recognizes and reacts to negative events such as economic downturns, regional weather, and any happenings beyond anyone's control.

William May, a Vortex leader admits, ""Every owner loves the idea of high rates, but pride of ownership can be wounded when they look at lower seasonal rates. But once they see the growth in annual income, owners become quick converts to our S2D2 dynamic rates."

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Vortex Managers is a network of trained vacation rental management companies and provides its clients with the resources of giant lodging corporations without the cost or delay. HelpBookMe is a proprietary lodging management software system perfected with thousands of hours by expert engineers. For more information on Vortex, call or Email: Info@VortexManagers.com, or Website: www.VortexManagers.com

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Author: William May – Manager, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0746 – 06/03/20

How Dare They Go To Work

By William May
Published: 04/20/20 Topics: Covid-19 Virus, Family, Gratitude, Health Comments: 0

How Dare They Work. Corona Virus.

Really, who the hell do they think they are?

Awakening early every morning, or even in the middle of the night. After too little sleep and too much stress, trudging to a job they love, although they admit it is difficult to love right now. How dare they go to work?

They will often spend 12-hours shifts or much longer and for days on end. Not one day off, not a moment to spend on personal things. No time with family or friends. How do they dare do that to themselves?

Some are paid very well, some paid adequately and others earn far too little. Most will receive nothing extra for the insurmountable obstacles they confront. How do they dare to work at all when others would not?

And yet, they persevere and get up and go to a job they know will be very frustrating. They know it is also rewarding, but that it will not feel that way every day. They do not dare to think about relief, at least not yet.

At the job, they will toil hour after hour, often with no time to eat or take a break. Squeezing in a bathroom break is necessary, but even that feels like wasting time. They will be confronted with thing after thing to do. Work upon work. No rest for the weary.

There will be a non-stop demand to do the difficult, the impossible and even the frightening. They won't feel up to the task all the time, but they will step up to the tasks every time. How dare they do that to themselves?

They see weeks of challenge ahead, maybe months, maybe years. They refuse to look for the finish line, because every champion runner puts one foot ahead of the other knowing it’s the only way to finish. They think about quitting, but only rarely, because quitting would make it more difficult for others. They dare not let anyone down.

As the world begins to show its gratitude for these wonderful human beings, they will still feel inadequate, because the mission is so huge and for now seemingly impossible. How dare they believe they can make it better?

These people are not necessarily glib with their words. They have no time for pontificating. They have no time to complain. They do not seek glory or even recognition. They would not dare direct any attention to themselves.

Every one of them knows the risk of physical illness, mental duress, financial hardships and family stress. They know these things, so how do they continue on? Would anyone else dare?

They dare because the task is at hand. The challenge is now. They dare not wait. They dare not fail. They will not let that happen, no matter how long it takes and no matter the personal cost. How dare they believe they are life givers?

Doctors, nurses, caregivers, counselors, therapists, pharmacists, ambulance drivers, EMTs, first-responders, administrators, janitors and every employee at every hospital, all dare to come to work - and we must all be so grateful that they do.

These people dare because they are different than most of us. Very different. Most dreamt of their career as a calling. They have always known it would be difficult, but they never dared to think it would be like this. But they did know that they could and would act in ways the rest of us cannot promise. They dare to go to work because they saves lives.

Whether you believe in God or you do not, whether you can donate to their cause or not, whether you have suffered from illness or not, it is now time to give thanks that somehow there are people like them in the world.

It is time thank them for dedication that is immense, commitment that is astounding, and for courage that is unending. How dare they?

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Author: William May, Plumbob Publishing
Blog #: 0743 – 04/20/20

Clean, Wipe, Soak, Scrub, Brush, Scour, Polish

By Ron Lee
Published: 04/18/20 Topics: Covid-19 Virus, Housekeeping, Property Management Comments: 0

How to Clean and Sanitize Vacation Rental Homes

Since our first office opened in 1964, we have been rigorously cleaning and sanitizing properties for decades. This is nothing new to us. In fact, our homes are cleaned to a degree higher than most people have at home. It has always been our commitment to have every home safe and ready for guest arrival.

Get a Real Getaway

If you need a vacation, holiday escape, spring break, fresh air and time alone, vacation rentals are the best option. Bring kids or not. Bring the family or just your spouse. Most homes are free-standing, so you can avoid crowds. Even in our condos, the homes are open corridor, so there is no need to pass through common areas, like lobbies and dark hallways.

When Guests Depart

After guests depart, housekeepers arrive at every home to clean, wipe, soak, scrub, brush, scour, mop and polish bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, common spaces and even decks and patios, linens, towels and surfaces. Hot tubs are disinfected. This entire process - called "out Clean" - takes many hours. Then homes are spot checked by managers to ensure good work. When departing, all staff members use bleach rags, so that even the door knob and key-safe are sanitized. Wow!

Sanitation Cleaning Products

We use a variety of products to clean, disinfect and sanitize. All are approved for high health standards. We still use bleach for some areas because it is still the gold standard for killing every kind of bug. In fact, if you enter a home immediately after housekeepers depart, for a few minutes you may detect a slight cleaning smell. That is your assurance of sanitization.

Bathroom Super Scrub

Cleaning bathrooms is not a fun task, but we carefully clean all sinks, mirrors, toilets, drawers, bathtubs and shower enclosures until they sparkle. But they have also been sprayed and later wiped with disinfectant. Soiled and unsoiled towels are removed before cleaning starts to avoid cross contamination. This is a hands-and-knees job, but housekeepers pride themselves on meticulous cleaning.

Proper Wipe Downs

You might think that spraying and wiping surfaces with disinfectant is sufficient, but it is not. Instead, disinfectant must be left on surfaces for a period of time before it is wiped away. This gives time for the liquid to kill all the germs.

- Door knobs inside and outside.

- Window switches.

- Light switches and sockets.

- Lamp switches.

- Cupboard doors and surfaces.

- Table tops including night stands.

- Appliances - top and sides.

- Counter tops.

- Reachable walls.

- Outdoor furniture.

- Stairs and deck handrails.

- Toasters and coffee makers.

- TV and other remote controls.

- Stereos and computers.

- Door bells and key safes.

- Toys and board games.

- Pet toys and blankets.

- And more.

Vacuuming, Mopping, Sweeping

Are you ever tempted to do floors fast? By slowing down the process and covering every floor surface carefully, dirt, grime and germs are removed. We keep equipment new and well maintained to get the best results. Housekeepers are never limited to cleaning hours. Instead, they are encouraged to take all the time they need to do the job right.

Kitchens and Dining Rooms

Kitchens get splattered on, baked in and used heavily. It is a big job, but to get kitchens spic-and-span is essential, from the stove to oven to refrigerator, but also microwaves, cupboards, fans and light fixtures. Cleaned inside and out. You will notice we remove condiments, such as ketchup and mustard left from prior guests, because leaving open containers violates health standards. You'll have to bring your own, but you'll know they are new and fresh.

Hot Tubs and Spas

Every hot tub is completely disinfected after each booking by trained staff members. Sand or debris is removed, filters are inspected, and chemicals are adjusted. In addition, the hot tub cove, top and side surfaces are disinfected. If you arrive to a tub that is not yet fully heated, please wait because we had to empty and refill it. Takes time to reheat.

Towels and Linens

Washing and drying linens and towels is an obvious step, be we wall all of them, even if a bed does not appear to have been slept in. They are transported to the washer-dryer using rubber gloves and laundry bags, and they are returned to beds in baskets to avoid cross contamination. Along with quality detergent, additional disinfectant is added to all washing to ensure germs are eradicated.

Deep Cleans

In addition to our rigorous out-clean, homes receive deep cleans regularly to cover hard to access areas, including heating ducts, cupboard sides and ceilings, high surfaces, fans, carpets and more. This takes many hours, and ensures the cleanest possible property.

When Guests Depart

You may notice that we do NOT as guests to do laundry or to remove linens and towels to the laundry area. We do it all to ensure that every textile has been washed and cleaned properly without dragging it through the house.

Call Us Quick: 206-504-2744

If at any time during your stay, if you find any issue, call our 24-7-365 day phone number for assistance. If necessary, our staff will happily come to the property to ensure all is right. And if you want daily cleaning, we can arrange that too, for a small additional fee.

Avoid Crowds, Stay in a Private, Vacation Home!

Year round, in every season, and no matter what is happening in the rest of the world, vacation rentals offer a respite from the rate race, a chance to get away and to enjoy a sparkling clean, sanitized home.

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Author: Ron Lee, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0742 – 04/18/20

HelpBookMe Invents Bumper Days to Facilitate Covid Cleaning

By William May
Published: 04/01/20 Topics: Comments: 0

In response to the Covid-19 virus, Vortex Organization's Redstone Software engineers have designed and installed a new system in their HelpBookMe property management software. It adds unoccupied dates between bookings to allow separation for guests and additional housekeeping time. These are called :"Bumper" days.

Vortex is a network of inn, resort and vacation rental management companies who share methods, staff, marketing and technology to provide sophisticated services to lodging owners and want maximum income with minimum fuss. Operators of this website are members of the group.

Trina Flanagan, a partner in the firm, said, "We have always employed strict hospitality grade cleaning and sanitizing standards used to clean the inns, resorts and vacation rental homes that its member management companies serve.:

With the arrival of covid-19, Vortex managers began allowing homes to site vacant at least one day after prior guests depart and before housekeepers or new guests access the home.

But with the advent of online travel agents like AirBnB, VRBO, Booking.com and others, lodging reservations are procured from many sources and automatically downloaded into the Vortex HelpBookMe Software

Penny Taylor, a partner administering reservations at all geographic locations, add, "Although not practical in all locations, the Bumper system, allows bumper dates to be added automatically in all geographic areas and in all properties where that policy is desirable."

Even with the lessening of travel restrictions, the new software capabilities increases safety while making the bumper method to be more selectively implemented.

"Our engineering team researched, coded, tested and implemented the system in record time" noted Ozair Khalid who oversees reservations software. "Neither the corporate management companies or major software providers have rolled out a similar tool. Too bad for their manager customers."

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Vortex Managers is a network of trained vacation rental management companies and provides its clients with the resources of giant lodging corporations without the cost or delay. HelpBookMe is a proprietary lodging management software system perfected with thousands of hours by expert engineers. For more information on Vortex, call or Email: Info@VortexManagers.com, or Website: www.VortexManagers.com

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Author: William May – Manager, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0747 – 04/01/20

Rainier Resthouse is ready for the winter season!

Published: 01/02/20 Topics: Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

We are very excited to have Rainier Resthouse join our family of cabins in the Mount Rainier region! This brand new vacation home mixes modern style and a mountain vibe. Just 2-1/2 hours from Seattle and Portland, 30 minutes away from White Pass Ski Resort and Mount Rainier National Park.

About Rainier Resthouse

This brand new two-bedroom home was built for vacationers, just like you. Tucked in among the trees, in a quiet neighborhood next to the river, this stylish home sleeps four and has a open-concept living room & kitchen.

The kitchen is wonderfully suited for preparing family meals with lots of counter space, all the cooking amenities you need, and a big table to gather round. The comfy living area sports a wall-mounted large tv and a great couch for lounging, after a long day enjoying the outdoors.

The master bedroom offers a second wall-mounted TV and a treasure trove of board games and puzzles. Both bedrooms will lull you to sleep with comfortable bedding, soothing views and vintage outdoor books.

Of course, the home also has cell phone service, WiFi, YouTube TV, Amazon Prime Video and LG internet TV. The full bathroom conveniently has a double sink and a washer/dryer is available for all your laundry needs

The home also boasts an outside deck, perfect for enjoying your morning coffee and a barbecued meal in the evening. Or build a fire by the handmade cedar seats and toast some marshmallows!

About the Packwood Properties Promise Here at Packwood Properties Vacation Rentals, we vow to make booking with us simple and exciting. We know that booking a rental property home for your vacation can be unfamiliar territory for some, while others know their way around it. Because we know this, we ensure that each of our properties are up to high quality standards. We do our absolute best to provide support to our guests when booking. We are available to assist you every day of the year if you have any questions or concerns before, during or after your visit to our home. We have onsite property management that are available 24/7 for anything concerning that may arise.

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Blog #: 0716 – 01/02/20
– NA – NA

Burnbank Mountain Lodge is here!

By Simon Berman
Published: 01/02/20 Topics: Comments: 0

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DETAILS: We work to keep this information up to date, but details do change from time to time based on circumstances, often on short notice, and sometimes beyond our control. To verify any answer or other information you may need, please call or email us anytime. Allow a reasonable amount of time for response. Only legitimate inquiries will be answered.