Fraud at Home for the Holidays

How we got burned like a holiday turkey by a local cleaning service

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By David Hammond

Last week in Wednesday Journal, I had an article published about how to prepare for Thanksgiving dinner.

One of the first points I made in that article was that “Of course, before guests arrive, we clean (it seems impolite to subject friends to a messy home).”

Last year, we were too busy to handle all the cleaning, so we hired a local cleaning service.

We’ve contracted with many cleaning services over the years, and most are just fine, but this one should have made me think twice when they estimated the job at about $300 for one-half day without ever even looking at the house or the condition it was in.

That should have set off an alarm. But I was busy, so I said Okay.

When they arrived, there were three cleaners instead of two, and they asked me if it was okay to bring a third person.

That, too, should have set off an alarm. But I was busy. So I said Okay. I mean, why not: three people means the job would go faster. Right? Wrong!

As it turned out, the job took a little more than one-half day…and it cost hundreds of dollars more than estimated (I’m embarrassed to tell you how much I actually paid for this job).

When the clean-up work was done, they told me what it cost. Sticker-shocked, I said I needed to speak with their manager to see why the price was so much higher than she’d estimated…but, of course, when I called, she wasn’t in. I waited a few minutes, as the cleaners sat in the living room, anxiously, starting to fume, one complaining aloud that “customers just don’t understand pricing.”

After a few minutes, things got even more uncomfortable, and I didn’t want to feel like I was stiffing a few hard working people.

So, I paid the full price just to get them out of my house and life.

And the result of their work? It was okay, just fine: they dusted and vacuumed and wiped off surfaces, but all the work was way more expensive than I was told it would be.

There are many honest cleaning services out there, but the next time I hire one, I’m going to be a lot more careful. And I’ll get an estimate in writing.

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