Not Happy with House Cleaner

jeriJune 2, 2010

IÂm not happy with my house cleaner. She has been doing my house for about 5 months. We agreed on $70.00 for 4 hours of work. The first couple of times, the place looked great, after that, not so much. But, she is better than nothing so IÂve not said anything and hoped my husband would not notice. Last week, he noticed that the bathrooms had not been cleaned at all. Other than vacuuming, I really donÂt know what she does. I left a note asking her to please be sure to clean the bathrooms as they had been missed last week. She left me a note too  saying there is too much work and she will now be coming for 3 hours instead of 4 and the price has been increased to $90.00.

There is no way I can justify $30.00 per hour for a house cleaner  especially one that I am already not thrilled with. I suppose I will tell her I can not pay that amount and that I will look for someone new  wish her well, etc. IÂm half expecting her to say she will continue at the current price  but if she does, should I say no?

My 16 y.o. daughter has a good friend  a really great person. She comes from a poor family and is a very hard worker. We always have her watch or house/pets when we are away  I trust her completely. She needs to make money to pay for various things her parents can not afford  like school activities and driving lessons. IÂm half tempted to see if she wants to clean my house once a week for $70.00  I bet she would do a better job. It just feels weird asking this gal to clean my toilets though....

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nwroselady

You might feel weird, but she might be thrilled at the opportunity to earn that kind of money. Go ahead and ask her if she's interested - she can always say no if she doesn't want a cleaning job.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 11:16PM
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peanutmom

Most teens I know would rather clean someone elses home than their own room, for sure. I have had some great luck having some of my daughter's friends come help with spring cleaning and such. They were thrilled to earn the money and if this girl is such a hard worker, she would probably be thrilled with the chance. I would suggest though that you sit down and have a chat with her about what you expect and rather than pay her by the hour, even with a flat rate at first, simply give her a list of things you would like to have done and settle on a price for doing them. That way she has some say in what she is making and she will feel better about having some control over the situation as well. Give it a try. You may be really surprised.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 3:43AM
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jeri

Hey  Thanks for the input on hiring this young gal. Would you guys help me come up with dollar amounts for the various chores?

Bathrooms  I would think this should be for the entire room. Do you agree? What would you pay for cleaning the bathroom? We have 3 bathrooms  2 are similar in size with tub/shower and the master is larger with two sinks. However, she would not have to do the separate tub as we use this for our cats litter box and I would not expect her to clean this area.

Vacuuming  what would you charge for this? We have 3100 sq feet, single story and no carpets. I was actually thinking of getting a Roomba and Scooba for this instead. Thoughts?

Dusting  should this be per room as well?

What else?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 12:36PM
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stir_fryi

3100 SF is a HUGE amount of work for one person and I would venture to say it would take a minimum of four hours. My SIL would charge you $80 for those four hours.

You should make a list of rooms you want cleaned (obviously kitchen and baths and main living area) and what you want done in those room (dust vacuum, clean bathroom counters, toilets, floor etc...). If you eliminate some rooms, like bedrooms, it may be cheaper and more people would be willing to tackle your house.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 1:11PM
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jeri

Hi Stir_fryi. I would be happy with $80.00 for 4 hours if the place always looked good. $20.00 per hour is good money, especially in this economy. I have a B.S. in Math and work as a Software Engineer. Due to cut backs, I donÂt even make $30.00 per hour. I just cannot justify paying $30.00 per hour for domestic work - $20 would be my top limit.

I was paying $70.00 for 4 hours and other than vacuuming (which IÂm now thinking a Roomba could do); I couldnÂt even tell the cleaner had been there. I have to believe in this economy, there must be reliable individuals willing to do a good job for $17.50 per hour. I just donÂt know how to find them.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 1:31PM
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graywings123

One thing to keep in mind is that this teenager is going to require supervision and instruction, which means your time spent training her. What seems simple and obvious to you about various aspects of cleaning may not be to a teenager or to someone who is unaccustomed to the types of surfaces you have in your home.

If you are going to do this - and I would think very carefully about it first - then start with one room or one project. You may think that vacuuming is easy, but there is a technique to be learned so that the rug is clean (slow pace, more than one pass), the furniture isn't damaged by being bumped, and the beater bar doesn't run over the hardwood.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 2:06PM
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jeri

GrayWings, you make some very good points and eventually I will care about all of that. We purchased a bank repo that was completely trashed (ask me how many dead rats we found!). Eventually, we will restore this once elegant home in a great area back to its glory, but for now I just want it reasonably clean.

This may turn into a quest to see how easy and quickly I can keep the place up myself. With a Roomba and a Scooba doing the floors, and a swifter duster a couple times a week  that just leaves the bathrooms. Are those scrubbing bubble automatic shower cleaners any good???

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 2:51PM
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graywings123

I have to believe in this economy, there must be reliable individuals willing to do a good job for $17.50 per hour. I just donÂt know how to find them.

Have you looked on your local craigslist?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 6:31PM
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eteinne

jeri,
In what state do U live? This has been discussed before and I think it was,"How much do you pay for house cleaning?" If that is not right, Graywings might remember. I have a long post about this. The entire thread is a long one. I started cleaning when I was 9 and will be 57 this June. I will need to have a knee replacement due to this, and I am a man! This is hard on your body! I own a house cleaning service and I still clean. I have been cleaning for some of my clients for almost 25 years and they only want me to clean. These homes are large and they pay me well. The least I am paid is $150 for a 2,000 sq ft town home to $350 for 6,000 sq ft home. Read that thread as it is any eye opener.

Now onto your house. I take it this is a older home? What type of heat do U have? If U have the old radiators or hotwater, baseboard heat? There is no air filtration and the place is a dust bowl. Do U open your windows and let in the dust? I this a home with a old furnace with a oil conversion and the duct work is coated with years of soot? Do you have old bathroom fixtures which were scoured with Comet for 50 years? They will never look good. Do U have that old 5 to 6 inch, dark baseboards that need to be washed the first time and then maintained with a dusting brush on a canister vac? How closely spaced R your hardwood, floor boards and do they have a poly finish? If not, more time and more money. How do U decorate, what stain is your hard case furniture, the hardwood floors, and the list goes on. These R the things I look at when doing an estimate and are valid points, and I an certain no one reading this has given any thought to any thing of this type... I have a waiting list but, no openings.

When I was married, I lived in a 4,000 sq ft place and spent 25 to 30 hours cleaning it a week. U want the same job done in 3 or 4 hours for $70?! Get a grip!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 11:01PM
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jeri

U want the same job done in 3 or 4 hours for $70?! Get a grip!

No  I donÂt want that job done. I want very basic cleaning  run a vacuum, mop the floors, dust, clean toilets and showers, and wipe down counters. ThatÂs it. No special treatment of counters, floors or furniture. No laundry. No window washing. Very basic cleaning and I will supply any tools and products the house cleaner prefers to work with.

IÂm willing to pay $17.50 per hour for basic cleaning. IÂm willing to pay for 4 hours per week every week and I will pay in cash.

Is this really an unreasonable expectation?

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 5:57PM
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jannie

Many years ago, my Mother hired a neighbor's teenage daughter to help her with cleaning the house. I remember Mom paid her one dollar to wash the kitchen floors. Not that you should offer only a dollar, but back in the day it was common to hire local teenagers to do chores. Ask your daughter's friend. and fire the one you don't like.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 10:22AM
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jannie

One more thing-be very careful and businesslike when hiring and firing. Tell the bad cleaner you're just not happy with her work and can't afford such a price increase. And ask your daughter's friend first to make sure she is willing to do it. And I know where I live you can get a basic one-time cleaning for $30 for a wholehouse.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 11:28AM
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rozilla

I'm so glad you thought of your daughter's friend! I think that is an excellent idea. She may need far less instruction than you think, as many girls that age have way more cleaning responsibilities at home than they should and are very efficient. I'm a high school teacher, so have a couple of thoughts you might consider. First of all, 16-year-olds can't make that kind of hourly wage anywhere. I think $10/hour is more appropriate. Also, she's going to need to know specifically what you want done in each room. She's a kid, not a pro, and she wants to please you but needs to know what you want. Ex.: Master bedroom: Dust furniture, top and sides with Swiffer. Dust lampshades. Wash sheets and put back on bed. Use dust mop to get under furniture, then vacuum wood floor. Afterwards mop with Mr. Clean, being sure mop is wrung thoroughly first etc. Leave her a list to check off as she goes and I think you might be very pleased. Be sure you allow enough time for her to actually do what you expect.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 3:55PM
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jannie

My Mom had a housecleaner who kept breaking things and hiding them. You're fired. My SIL has a lovely housecleaner who does one extra chore once a week, such as "Clean the oven". SIL leaves her a note-and she comes only once a week. My friend Sandy hired a service, The lady they sent over did not speak English and insisted Sandy not be home when she did the work, so Sandy stayed upstairs while the cleaner cleaned downstairs and then reversed, stayed downstairs while cleaner did the upstaoirs.I don't know how much these people were paid.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 6:45AM
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westvillager

Personally, I see no difference between employment of household and office staff - other than the obvious, um, personal side you mention. It's your needs and should be someone who performs to agreed expectations. The bathroom is a must do.

I've had the same cleaning lady at my apartment in the city for 10 years. After a major renovation, I sat down with her over coffee to discuss how the new materials would change the routine, and which products I wanted used. We negotiated an increase, agreed to be flexible on the checklist and it was done. We've adjusted a few details since, but it's worked out for both of us. But I had to be willing to find a new person even though I've known her for for years.

She seems quite comfortable telling you what she's willing to do. As long as you communicate and are professional, you should feel the same.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 10:06AM
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lazy_gardens

Rozilla said, First of all, 16-year-olds can't make that kind of hourly wage anywhere. I think $10/hour is more appropriate.

So what is worth $20 an hour when done by an adult is only worth $10 an hour when done by a teen-ager? Is teaching only worth $35,000 a year when done by a woman and $55,000 a year when done by a man?

**********
A 3100 square foot house is a large job, but based on what I have seen my cleaner do in 3 hours in a 2700 square foot house, it should be manageable.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 2:38PM
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jeri

Rozilla  Thank you very much for your input, it was very helpful.

Lazygardens  I donÂt think $20.00 is appropriate for anyone who cleans a house, but apparently, many make that and a lot more. I just donÂt get it. (shakes head) But when it comes to 16-year-olds, paying them that much money will seriously skew their expectations for future jobs.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 8:35PM
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lazy_gardens

Jeri - It's not a "housecleaning is worth "X" in my opinion" decision. It's an "is housecleaning worth my time, or is it more cost-effective to put my time elsewhere" decision.

I pay my house cleaner $20 an hour. In three hours, she does what would take me 12 hours to accomplish (strength is an issue for me). Even if I were making minimum wage, I can earn more than $60 in the 12 hours that are freed up by having her do the heavy house cleaning.

As for skewing the girl's expectations - paying less solely because of age is illegal. If you are willing to pay a 35-year old $17.50 an hour, and offer someone $7.50 an hour because of their age, you are wide open for prosecution under a whole passel of employment laws.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 5:15PM
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dilly_dally

That is not true. Many states have a separate minimum wage for minors.

There is even an exemption for older adult, full time students who only work part time.

Read here:

"This program is for full-time students employed in retail or service stores, agriculture, or colleges and universities. The employer that hires students can obtain a certificate from the Department of Labor which allows the student to be paid not less than 85% of the minimum wage. The certificate also limits the hours that the student may work to 8 hours in a day and no more than 20 hours a week when school is in session and 40 hours when school is out, and requires the employer to follow all child labor laws. Once students graduate or leave school for good, they must be paid at least the federal minimum wage."

http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/youthlabor/wages.htm

All this is moot if one hires a house cleaner who is an independent contractor and not defined as an employee. It sounds like the OP is using independent contractors for housecleaning so that whole "prosecution under a whole passel of employment laws" does not apply in the case.

The real kettle of worms is contracting with a minor if the person is under 18y/o. Have your ducks in order.

Here is a link that might be useful: Read

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 6:15AM
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rozilla

Oh my! I didn't mean to stir up a controversy over whether or not it was ethical or legal to pay a minor less than you pay an adult. Guess I was thinking more of the possible impact on the young lady. Many kids that age, especially if school is hard for them, wouldn't see the need to finish high school much less go to college if they could make $20 an hour. Will she ever want to work those minimum wage jobs most teenagers do to pay for her car or insurance once she has made $20 an hour? Sorry, I spend my day in the classroom with teenagers so I was thinking way beyond the housecleaning issue I guess. Jeri got it!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 7:08PM
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vala55

I don't pay by the hour, I pay a flat rate. I didn't like my house being cleaned but wanted my floors done. I had broken my arm and vacuuming was difficult. The cleaner agreed to just do my floors for $45., one level 1,440 sq ft. It has worked out fine. Usually a cleaner won't do your floors alone, it's not worth their trip, but my cleaner does the house across the street so he does my floors when he does her home. Another neighbor went with a company called Molly Maids. She had them for 5 weeks, had a different woman every week and ended up having all of her jewelry stolen. I would not use a company, I want to know my cleaner.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 7:51PM
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jannie

I just found out the minimum wage in my state is $7.25 an hour. Not that this means anything, but I'd say $10 an hour is a minimal amount. Twenty is not extravagant.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 5:14PM
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ccjc

I pay my housekeeper $125 to clean 3000 sq ft. Worth every penny. You get what you pay for. It takes her about 4 hours. My DH and I are very neat and our style is minimalist. In addition we have a fairly new house, so everything has been maintained very well.

When budgets are tight, maybe consider hiring for evey other week.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 8:40PM
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jeri

CCJC Â thatÂs over $30.00 per hour. Very few people, including well educated people, make $30+ per hour. Also, unless you 1099 your help, they donÂt even pay taxes on that amount. With the economy where it is, and the unemployment rate what it is, I was very surprised that the woman working for me was not happy with $17.50 per hour, but if she can get $30.00 then I canÂt blame her.

I ended up purchasing a Roomba which works *great*. I also joined Flylady and I now "swish and swipe" every day. This takes about 60 seconds and I have the piece of mind knowing my bathrooms are always company ready. I also started using a shower spray every day. This is working for us and we are saving that $70.00 per week.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 7:21PM
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kterlep

my husband and I have had full time jobs and/or (usually "and") been graduate students throughout our entire marriage and we have two children and two dogs...when we have been insanely busy we have hired a cleaning person to help us.

When we lived in Chicago, she was $20 an hour through the agency (which she then quit and contacted us to offer us to work for us for $15). When we lived in rural Illinois, we payed $13 an hour.

I didn't think we would need someone here in rural Indiana but I just did a huge renovation project (floor sanding and plaster sanding and wallpaper removal of three rooms on 2 floors with subsequent floor refinishing and painting of rooms) and there was dust everywhere and I was having a devil of a time with the renovation dust and the regular housework besides.

So I gave myself the "treat" of 2 sessions with a cleaner. I was really surprised, she only charged $50/first 4 hours and $10 thereafter (we only did 4 hours each time due to scheduling).

I also got a bit frustrated when the cleaning person would come when my husband was home because he never seemed to know what to tell her to do.

The first time she came, I was painting on a scaffold and she deep cleaned our kitchen and our two bathrooms and did some woodwork (in about 4 hours) The second time, she and I cleaned right next to each other the whole time--we chatted about our kids and life and everything (small world, small town). It made me think, I would have a lot more fun if I had a cleaning buddy!

By the time we were done, we had SCOURED my (victorian) home--removed all the dust, cleaned the light fixtures, washed the windows, swept, mopped, dusted, etc--all the "dry" rooms she didn't get in her first visit. Not bad for 8 hours between the 2 of us.

Regarding letting your lady go, I would tell her you can't afford her any more, period (especially if she still has your key)--telling her you're on to her not doing the work is not going to help you or her, and will probably just inflame the situation.

I highly encourage you to have people clean when you are home--I believe you get a lot more work out of people when you are around.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 11:24PM
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gammyt

Just a thought, why don't you teach/hire your 16 year old daughter instead of her friends?

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 2:59PM
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ccjc

Jeri, I know it seems like a lot of money. But I look at it differently. I had an opportunity many years ago when I was in college to clean houses for some extra spending money. It was a real eye opener.

I wouldn't pay someone $30 an hour to run errands for me, grocery shop, or other chores that are not undesirable. But when I think about asking someone to clean my bathroom, wash my floors etc, by paying her this amount of money I am letting her know that I highly value her and her work. It is my way of showing her respect and dignity, and letting her know how valuable she is to me. The rewards have been tremendous for me. Her work is impeccable and I would trust her with my life.

She is a (young) widow, and self employed. So yes, she declares her income, and will qualify for social security and medicare when the time comes.

I'm not suggesting that others pay their housekeepers this much money, I just wanted to offer a different perspective to the discussion about what someone's work is worth.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 5:33PM
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jeri

Just a thought, why don't you teach/hire your 16 year old daughter instead of her friends?

LOL Â I was wondering when someone would ask that. :-)

This is my step-daughter and blended families are very difficult on everyone, but especially the kids. I wonÂt bore you with the details. Things would be different if she was my daughter and raised by me her entire life.

CCJC Â you obviously make enough to pay someone $30.00+ per hour for house cleaning and you are happy with the work. Sounds like a win-win to me. However, I donÂt believe that paying more for a job than it is worth is the only way to show respect, dignity, and value. And I hope that those who chose to make a living cleaning homes donÂt find it undesirable or distasteful. I really donÂt believe that they do.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 6:59PM
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javaandjazz

Pardon me for piping in, I'm usually posting on other forums and just found this one.I think when you are thinking of hiring someone to clean your home, you should put yourself in that person's postion and ask yourself "How much would I want to be paid to clean this house" and pay that person that much. House cleaning is not an easy job!I saw one person posted that $10.00 would be fine, I think that's awful.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 10:06AM
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jannie

I just have to add this. When I was a kid, back in the Fabulous Fifties, my Mom hired the teenager across the street to wash (really scrub) the kitchen linoleum for $1. She also hired her to babysit me and my 3 siblings while she (Mom) did her spring cleaning. I think Mom did one room a day, and she paid the girl 25 cents an hour. so if she stayed for 8 hours, she made two bucks. Talk about underpaying! Just had to add this- a Then and Now comparison!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 1:34PM
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pesky1

Hope you don't mind my 2 cents. Where I live, $30/hr for a housekeeper is absurd. $20/hr for HIGHLY recommended, generally from a service is typical. Most get about $15/hr or flat rate.

Hiring a kid at a discount is fair, I'd say. It's entry level wages. I know of adults in my area who will gladly work for $10 for labor-type jobs, especially if it's just a few hours a week type thing.

As to not being happy with your current cleaner, have you made your expectations very clear? Sometimes we don't realize we're not on the same page and that leads to frustration. I once had a yard guy spend a lot of time on some shrubs, and what I wanted was an area weeded. After I explained to him that I would do the limbs & shrubs, I need him to concentrate on the stuff you need to do on your knees, he did what I needed each time and it worked out great for both of us.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 12:48AM
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lauren17

Jeri
You should find another housekeeper if you are not happy with your current one. However, I do not think you should ask your daughter's "poor" friend if she wants the job. Even if she could use the money, don't you think it would be weird for her to clean your toilets when the daughter doesn't do it? I think it would change the girls' relationship and not for the better.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 8:26PM
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eteinne

I can not even imagine that this thread is still, on going! I pay $6,000 for medical insurance, alone. I declare, everything, I am taxed at a higher tax rate, as they think I am stealing from the gov. Then there is the insurance for the business, supplies, vac repair, and the list goes on. I would assume that U all have your health insuance paid from your husband's job or your own. Try and pay this on your own and U will see what I mean! I have Master's in French, as clean toilets for a living. I finished my degree in Paris. $30 an hour is not too much to pay. I make more and have been cleaining for years and they give me a raise every year.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 9:06PM
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jannie

I know a woman who cleans a whole house in 4 hours, and she charges a flat rate of $100 per visit. She sees most clients every other week. So that worksut to $50 a week . I'd pay that to have someone deep clean my house.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 11:25AM
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callie25

Jannie, just curious what area you or the other woman are in (if I charged $100 for 4 hrs, I would be laughed out the door). Deep cleaning would certainly be worth that (if the job was done thoroughly). I find myself being asked to clean after someone who "did shortcuts" the client wasn't pleased with them, but yet they want a better job and pay me the same rate of pay? Anyone have an good ideas? It's difficult to ask for more when there's so much unemployment (it will be easy for them to find someone else who will do it for less money (not to mention the shortcuts that go with it). I'm very thorough, work diligently, but I can't perform miracles (meaning if there's 4 hrs of work to do....I can't & won't get it completed in 2 hrs). Ideas on how to deal with this?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 1:32PM
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westvillager

souhterngal, you've uncovered the moral of this thread: expectations widely differ. Comes down to what you're willing to put up with and how you differentiate yourself. Value is such a personal thing.

I can share a recent experience. I hired a service to do a "move-in" deep clean of our weekend home. The owner of the service came by, we walked through each room (she totally white-gloved every surface), inventoried the cleaning supplies and discussed timing. I LOVED IT! She asked a ton of questions, answered all of mine and explained how they work. In execution, of course, the cleaning folks did what all cleaning people do. There was no magic, but she made it a collaborative experience.

There are a ton of cleaning people in the city where I spend most of my week, and all the responsibility was mine. The first cleaning person who offered some type of proactive behavior or knowledge -- like you offered in your post -- would have got me as a client in a second.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 12:10PM
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