Thursday, July 31, 2014

Professional House Cleaners: How to Tell If You're Being Taken Advantage Of

I've had my fair share of jobs, okay not really I have had 2 official long term jobs, and everything else I do on the side is simply because I'm greedy for a quick buck.
My cousin Destiny and I decided to throw (literately overnight) ourselves into a part time business career. Or so we thought. House cleaning. We weren't licenses, nor insured, but we offered a decent price compared to most non-legit house cleaning companies. You got 2 for the price of 1. We charged around $200 for a top to bottom cleaning. I'm talking us arriving at the home at 7am and finishing at 9pm. We did not miss a spot.
When my cousins boyfriend got our first client for us, we were hyped and ready to go, and we hoped she liked our work enough to have us come back regularly. Besides an extra $100 bucks each was not bad for one day of work.
Her name was Mrs. Hersh. She was a slob. I'm not talking your average slob, I mean a big one! Cat poo on top of cabinets, food in cupboards stuck to plates, dishes piled up on counters so old and dirty that mold was growing on them.
I swear the board of health would of shut this dump down. We looked at eachother, eyes aglow. No way in hell was I sitting there all day and cleaning this dump for $200.
Mrs. Hersh told us her story about how she had arthritis and couldn't clean, blah blah... and that she'd give us an extra $100 each, and that she was embarrassed. So the greed in our hearts said yes, but our eyes said no.
We worked our butts off that day, and even at 10pm the job was not fully finished. But we had our money. As we were about to leave and never look back, she tells us to come back tomorrow to help her with some 'stuff''.
Okay, but I hope she knows shes paying us again, my cousin sighed under her breath.
The next day, us; the cleaning ladies arrive to her home, and this time she wants us to ' pack and move furniture'. Now I had never heard of a cleaning lady moving, and packing furniture. Basically that day we played the role of the 'mover guys'. It was not easy work either. It consisted of packing up her entire house in bubble wrap and boxes, and heaving it out to a mover van.
After 4 hours of non stop work, we both wonder what she is paying us, seeing how we were both too frigging shy to make a price from the get go. After 5 hours though, I thought to myself, a mover would be paid about $500 for this fu**ing job. I figured we bat for $200 each again.
By 5pm we were not even half done. Not only that as we are in the basement, she manages to heave her huge a$$ down the stairs and had the never to say "girls, see that fridge over there, do you think you could somehow manage to carry it up and put it out front for the garbage man?"
I nearly died laughing-inside of course. Not only did this fridge outweighed us both combined, but it was also crammed in the corner of the basement. This loony mofo actually expected us 2 girls to flop a fridge on our backs and carry it up her long narrow flight of stairs. Was she out of her mind?!Was she sick in the head?
By now, I see the pattern, this woman is seriously taking advantage of this entire situation. We were house cleaning ladies. Not movers, not back breakers. We come in and clean. Yet here I am, moving her things.
We pretty much looked at her like she was insane, and said there was no way in hell we're lugging that ancient fridge up on our backs. We will either, one, kill ourselves, or 2, throw out our back. We may be young, we may of been strong, but there was no way I was risking my health, and life for this pig.
So more time goes by, and at this time we have nearly her entire house packed nicely into the back of the moving truck. We are exhausted, and shes still their breathing down our necks. Next all that was left was a minor vacuuming, and a dusting, and spray down of the bathrooms. The would only take us about an half hour.
So while I'm on my hands and knees hanging on to the last ounce of energy I have left, she taps me on the shoulder. "Could you girls clean my linens". Okay so I'm thinking, what the hell is 'linens'. I don't use language like that, so she leads me into her bedroom, and there is a massive pile of shi* on the bed. Clothes, towels, bras, underwear, and curtains. I guess those are linens?
Me and Destiny took turns lugging loads into her shabby outdoor washing room. We manage to quickly get a few loads done, and finally said, screw it, because if we kept going back and fourth from drying, to cleaning, to folding, back to house cleaning, we'd be there all night.
Finally Mrs. Hersh goes online, and is quiet for a good solid 20 minutes. Her being in the way was causing a drag in the time, and it made it hard to get things done. I couldn't even bare to look at her without wanting to push her down a flight of stairs. This woman, was taking advantage of us, and it was clear as day. By now, my mind and body, and my cousin whispered, '$1,000 is not even worth this B.S.' But here I was again, on the floor vacuuming. AHHH!
I watched from the floor like a dog, as Mrs. Cow slurped on a cup of lemonade. I knew this was another fuc**** dish I would have to hand clean! I hope she choked on a cube.
Next I hear my cousin yelling in the bathroom, waking me from my daydream. As she was cleaning the tub, she accidentally hit the shower button and soaked herself. I looked at her pathetically, not that I thought she was pathetic, but just that 'we got in way over our heads' look.
She dries off, and now... yes the best part. Now the damn tub will not drain the water. Mrs. Hersh has the nerve to ask if we could stick out wet/dry vac down the drain to suck up whatever is clogged. Yay! So now we are the goddamn plumbers!? That'll be another $500 I thought viciously in my head. After a few moments of struggling, it turned out the damn drain plug notch was causing the water not to go down.
Back to work, vrrrooom vacuuming...... Mrs.Hersh enters the room, and asks us to stop what we are doing to help her pick couch covers. Was she serious!? Was she drunk!? We just wanted to finish our work, and go the hell home. It was about 8:30pm now. So we are sitting in front of her computer, as we help decide which cover slip would look best on such and such a couch. The whole thing was just bullsh--.
Finally she decided on one, and orders 4. Grand total, $400 for some couch slips. This cow better pay us good, she seems to have no problem buying expensive couch covers.
Okay, its almost 10pm, and we are finally done. Or so we though, Mrs. Hersh notices her outdoor canopy ma-jiggie needs to be folded up. What the hell? We didn't even bother going outside to try and disassemble her piece of crap canopy. Or bones ached, we were filthy, and our boogers were black. I felt unhealthy, ready to hurl.
She much? I wanted to say a grand, easily a grand. But the idiot I am, I say nothing. She then hands us both $200 and asks us to come back tomorrow. Nope... we both had our other jobs to attend.
She then says, "you guys are a blessing, you got this place cleaned up, and empty in 2 days. Thank God because my summer rentals are moving in tomorrow. But you made $400 each. Thats pretty dang good for only 2 days of work right!?"
I wanted to punch her in the face. 2 days of work usually consist of only 16 hours of work. With a break! Not 25 hours of non stop working and tedious jobs.
So for 2 days of my life, I was a plumber, a laundromat, a house cleaning lady, a home decorator, and a mover. All for $400. Not to mention the cleaning equipment, and supplies cost about $100. We gained practically nothing; except exhaustion, burning muscles, and anger.
That house should of just been burnt down; condemned. I have never felt more taken advantage of.
Now when we get small house cleaning jobs on the side, we name a price from the get go, anything extra is an additional $20. We learned a valuble lesson from Mrs. Hersh, and her conning ways. We now follow guidelines when we take on cleaning jobs.
1. They will ask you to do favors that have nothing to do with house cleaning.
2. They will you to pick something up on the way there. Then not pay you when you get it for them.
3. They will be down your back the entire time, and knowing you have not had a break, will not offer one.
4. They will ask you to preform jobs that a group of strong men should be doing.
5. They will leave garbage around the house, as you are cleaning, causing you to have to go back and re-clean the area again.
1. Accept a price 'they' give you.
2. Do extra work without naming a price
3. Laundry. This job can easily take 3 hours, cleaning, drying and folding.
4. Dishes. You are the to vacuum, dust, clean widows, tubs, toilets, floors, counters, sinks, and everything else that looks messy. Not their dishes.
5. Do not forget to add the price of supplies into the overall cost of cleaning the home. The supplies alone could cost you $60-$100 per job. Add it in.
6. Do not feel bad for the person, do not get too friendly. Getting overly friendly is an open invitation to getting taken advantage of.
7. Do not get them groceries, or cook for them unless you are getting paid extra. Gas costs money, and cooking is time. Unless this is in the job description, do not get conned into it after cleaning their home.
8. If you are in a home for 3 hours, and feel like you are being taken advantage. Ask for the money they owe you.. but not in full. Make up an 'emergency at home' lie, and never look back.
9. Do not give them a pay by the hour price. They will try to get you to come in, rush you around, and abuse you for 3 or 4 hours depending on how long they need you.
10. Do not overprice easy jobs. If it's a once over, price it fairly. You want repeat customers like this.
You will be shocked by what people try to get away with for free. Some will go on a power trip, and some will not want to pay you for certain extra jobs. Simply don't do them. I can't stress it enough. Time is money. The more time you waste working extra jobs at one house, the less time you have to finish the next one.
1. If you walk into a house in shambles, do not be afraid to price it at $500. It is a blessing for them to get such cheap work.
2. If the homeowner keeps adding on tasks, do not be afraid to tell them, that'll be extra. If they have a problem with that, don't argue. Just don't do it.
3. If the homeowner keeps interfering with you getting your work done in a timely fashion, kindly ask that they leave.
4. If the homeowner asks you to stop for something on the way in, or while you are in the middle of work, let them know it will be an additional price, and that they are to pay for gas.
5. Do take a breather. Do not let a homeowner work you to the bone. You need to stop and eat if you are doing a long tedious job. Bring your lunch with you.
6. If a homeowner does not want to pay for extra work, do not feel bad for them and do the job for free.
7. Do a good job. No slacking. If you see a mess, clean it, don't hide it. If you see dust, dust it! Don't take advantage of a good homeowner.
Now after all of that, if you still think you have what it takes to follow up with this job/career, go for it. The money can be nice, if you are not being taken advantage of.

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