We have some excellent housecleaners who come in once a month, sometimes more frequently during the holidays. They’re two independent business women who take their work seriously, charge a reasonable rate, seem friendly and reliable and do a good job.

Everyone wants a clean house when friends and family come over for turkey, etc.*

We’ve received several calls in the past week from a local franchise cleaning service, and I told them point blank: “You have defrauded me in the past, overcharging me for sloppy work. Please do not ever call me again.”

I won’t name names, in part because a review of this service on Yelp indicates that there are some very positive along with many negative, reviews. I just want to be fair here.

My advice:

 * Do not allow the cleaning service to “estimate” costs over the phone – this approach is a red flag. They can simply later say that, gosh, they estimated too low because, you know, they weren’t able to actually assess the work on-site.

 * Get a very clear statement of services and costs in writing.  If you don’t, you could easily spend several hundred dollars on a few hours of unprofessional cleaning. As one person wrote on Yelp: “My dog with a rag on its tail would have done better.”

 * If the cleaning service shows up with more people than they said they would (like, say, three people instead of two), this does not mean the work will be performed more quickly; it just means you’ll be charged 30% more.

I’ve posted about this service in the past, and I would have forgotten about it, but apparently they’re in the midst of a major telemarketing initiative right now, as they are every year about this time. I believe the cleaning service we used was a dishonest operation. Beware.

*Obligatory food reference

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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of LTHForum.com, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...