A Cautionary Tale:
Updated: Jan 20
From the Desk of our CEO:
I want to share with you a cautionary tale of of a young lady who we've recently been working with (for the purposes of this blog we will call her Jane). She hired "another cleaning company" to do a move-out clean on her home that was vacant, and they have relocated out of state. Seems pretty straight forward and a normal transaction. Her's very quickly turned into a nightmare.
Here's her story:
After logging on to Facebook, and asking a community page for recommendations, Jane found herself calling around the long list of individuals that were suggested. After what felt like 100 calls, she settled on an individual who said he had 8 years in the business, provided all cleaning products, and would have it done in a day. He talked a good game about the services he provided and some projects that he's worked on in the past. The client was pleased with everything she was told, and booked.
Here's Jane's first mistake: She didn't do any actual research before booking. If you're going to hire someone to work on your home you need to make sure they are licensed, insured, and have a reputation. Your first red flag: If they have absolutly no social media or website presense. Your home is the largest/most expensive investment you'll ever make. Don't just trust it to anyone!
When the date of the cleaning arrived, Jane sent a text to "the cleaning company" to provide them the code to her front door and said if he had any questions to please reach out. He sent a simple thumbs up emoji. 4 hours later she received a text saying the job was complete, and he promptly sent a request for payment via CashApp. Jane paid the bill within minutes and thanked him for his services. Again he responded with a thumbs up emoji.
Jane's second mistake: At no time did the "cleaning company" provide her anything in writing. No quote on cost (just verbally told her an amount), final bill, contract/service agreement, or proof that the work was completed.
Jane's realtor had gone by the property 2 days later to place the For Sale sign in the yard, attach her lockbox to the door, and meet the photographer to to have photos done of what should have been a professionally cleaned home for the listing. What Jane's realtor found instead horrified her. Instead of cleaning the home, the people Jane hired destroyed/vandalized it.
Here's a short list of some of the damage: Beer bottles emptied all over floors in the kitchen/living room, those same bottles shattered on the floors, pool chemicals inside the refrigerator/freezer, mulch from flower beds taken in the house and scattered throughout the home, mulch shoved down drains in the bathroom tubs and kitchen sink, water left running in the kitchen that was now spilling over on the floors since the drain was clogged, urine on the carpets in the bedrooms, and the list goes on. (A few pictures can be found below)
Immediately Jane called the "cleaning company" as he was the only person granted access or given the code for entry to the home. He didn't answer. Her next call was to the local police department. Upon initial investigation, it was found that there had been no signs of forced entry, and this must have been someone with a key. She called the "cleaning company" again. And again, no answer. She provided the police with all the information regarding the people she had hired, including the company name, owners name, and phone number. After an exhausted investigation it was determined that the people she hired did not in fact own a legit business, and the phone number that she had been calling was a pre-paid cell that was now disconnected. They had managed to take off with her money and disappear. If that wasn't enough, the cost of plumbers, carpet replacement, and repairs for water damage were turning this into more of a nightmare.
Jane's final mistake: Without collecting the proper information to ensure that the people she hired were properly insured, Jane was left with paying $6,850 for repairs to her home, $450 for the cleaning that never happened, and an additional 2 months her home stayed off the market while repairs could be made. Had this company been properly licensed and insured she could have filed a claim against them, and furthermore held them legally accountable for vandalizing her home and stealing her money.
With all of the issues laid out in front of her, and her being almost 10 hours away settling into her new home, Jane was faced with her next hurdle. Finding a company that would clean up the mess the vandals made, and more importantly, someone she could trust. Lucky for her, she found us. Her realtor was someone we do business with frequently and reassured her that we were a real company, who took things like this to heart. To be frank, things like this really get me fired up as it gives the entire cleaning industry a bad wrap. We take pride in the fact that people trust us with their homes, and to be around their families. In todays world, we know how difficult trusting strangers can be.
Now, we won't bore you with the details of the cleaning, but we got her taken care of. With 4 of our best cleaning technicians in the business we took care of the home, and sent her photos of the completed work. It had to be done in stages since there were several projects going on in the home. But in the end, along with other folks we know through networking she got teams of folks out there that were all professionals, and most importantly licensed and insured!
In conclusion: Yes, I know I've said it more than once and I'm sure your'e tired of me beating a dead horse, but please don't just hire a random person to work in your home. No, not every cleaning ends this way, and yes, you may pay a little more for a professional. But if the above story doesn't keep you from running to the lowest bidder, then maybe a few helpful hints will keep you from hiring the wrong people. There is a reason professionals charge more. We have expenses the others don't: Liability insurance (protects you if they break or damage something), worker's comp (protects you if a worker is hurt in your home), a business license (means we pay our taxes), and overhead/operational costs.
So I've come up with a little check list of questions you should ask BEFORE you commit to hiring someone to work at/in your home:
Do you have a business license?
Do you have a DPOR license? (now this doesn't apply to the cleaning world, as a DROP license is not required for residential cleaning. But it DOES apply to electricians, contractors, plumbers, etc.)
Do you have General Liability Insurance AND Worker's Comp?
How many year's of service/experience to do have?
Do you have a website/Facebook page with reviews from previous clients?
Can you give me references?
Will you be providing me a service agreement for my requested job?
What are payment options? (if its cash only, that's a red flag)
Do you have an office location? (please do not misunderstand, not all home based businesses are bad, but you want to know where you can locate a contractor if they are not returning your calls or something goes wrong).