Saturday, February 5, 2011

Weekly Whine

Hi, welcome to what seems to be becoming my weekly whine. This is where I complain about something and then everyone gets inexplicably offended because omg someone complained about something on a blog.

This week I am complaining about my cleaning woman. Yes, I'm complaining about a woman who comes and cleans my apartment. Also, my diamond shoes are too tight and all these hundred dollar bills won't fit in my wallet, but those are topics for another entry. Anyway, this woman made a strong showing on her first day with us by cleaning the wrong apartment. Granted, she's the first cleaning woman I've ever employed, so I don't know if my standards are too high or something, but this woman has been a bimonthly source of stress for me for the following reasons:

1) We agreed to pay her $75 per session at the onset. After she finally cleaned our apartment the first time, she told me that it was going to be $100 for that session. I told her that she couldn't just decide how much she was going to charge us after it was over. Finally, she said if we paid her $100 for that first session, she'd charge us $70 from then on. Made no sense to me, but I agreed.

2) A few sessions later, she left us a note, saying she "tried to make it work, but she just couldn't find a way" to clean our apartment for $70, and she had to charge $75.

3) She refuses to clean our oven or microwave without an extra charge. She also doesn't do laundry.

4) A couple of months ago, she said she "couldn't possibly" take out our garbage anymore. I told her I was going to fire her (because, seriously, wtf?) and she changed her mind and somehow found a way.

5) She won't clean our dishes. This I think bothers me the most of all, because I throw all the dishes in the dishwasher before she comes, so there's generally just maybe two pots that aren't cleaned. She puts them in the sink and doesn't clean them. They would probably take about two minutes to clean, which is why there's something blatantly obnoxious about the fact that she refuses to do it.

6) This isn't her fault but I hate the fact that you have to pre-clean before a cleaning woman comes. I end up spending the entire night before picking up toys and getting the apartment clean so that she can clean. Probably the biggest utility of having a cleaning woman is that it forces me to clean.

7) Related to #6, she often reschedules on us. I don't mind so much, especially if she has a good reason, such as that six feet of snow just got dumped on the midwest, but sometimes her reasons are less predictable, and I wish she'd tell me the day before, so I didn't go through and tidy the whole apartment the night before so she could clean.

8) We suspect she may have broken one of our electronic devices by dropping it and not telling us.

9) She left me a note once, saying that she babysits, which is almost laughable, considering I barely trust her to clean.

Anyway, I think that covers it. Yet we keep her on because I just don't want to scrub the toilets.


  1. That's a pile of crap. Pun intended. There's NO reason to put up with that.

    Long babbling story short: I recently hired a national company to come do a single heavy cleaning and they did a horrible, horrible job. They didn't change the price on me, though.

    I never pre-clean. That's why I hire a cleaning company, to pick up when the mess gets out of control! If they don't want to pick up my mess they can refuse to work - and not take my money [unlike the last company who took my money and, I found out after-wards, did a half-assed job].

    Interestingly, after I posted a major whine on a "review" website, a small cleaning company made of local college kids contacted me. Next time the mess gets nuts & I can gather together the money, I'll try them.

  2. I have a friend who has hired help one day a week, and cleans with her cleaning woman. I think it motivates my friend to have someone else around, and everything gets done twice as fast.

    Anyway, if you (or someone else in your family) is there with her, then you can figure out if she's really doing a good job, dropping your toaster, completely slacking off, or whatever. And if you paid her by the hour instead of a flat rate, then I think it would be pretty hard for her to be constantly doing these price negotiations. Don't know if this will help or if you have time for something like that, but food for thought.

    P.S. I rarely comment in your blog, but enjoy it a lot (and don't at all mind your "whiny" rants). After all, it's your blog!

  3. Mostly, I'm nervous about hiring someone to clean, because you have to trust them. So the fact that she hasn't done anything aggregious yet makes me stay with her out of laziness. Also, she cleans a bunch of apartments in our building, so the complex knows her.

    E. Greene: My father suggested using a flat rate, although I don't know what that would be. She said that she takes two hours to clean, which means she's earning over $30 an hour... which seems like a LOT for unskilled labor. Much more than I'd pay a babysitter.

  4. Sounds like you need to do what we do with lazy undergrads, take their key and kick 'em to the curb.
    In this economy there are bound to be people who will do 100x better for the same price.

  5. Definitely too many strikes to keep her. Find a good one through word of mouth. And btw, how the hell did she get into the wrong apartment? This is the second time I've heard of that happening on a cleaning woman's first day. The first time the office employee gave the key without checking the renter's name.

  6. Fire her.

    Our cleaning company (yes I sold out and hired ladies who work for THE MAN. I am a capitalist bitch) costs $150 for a once a month clean done by 2 women. It takes them 90-120 minutes. They do the oven, the fridge, the dishes, make my bed, fold my laundry. If I asked them to take out the garbage, I'm sure they'd do that too. Plus if they steal something, I can tell their boss and there are larger potential repercussions than if I alone fired them.

    For the first cleaning, they had to come and do a "deep clean" that took 6 hours and cost $300, but this enables it to take much less time on subsequent cleans, and to be able to do a good job each time. They're definitely not perfect, but sound a lot better than the woman you've employed.

  7. i'd definitely find another- my parents pay our cleaning ladies 125 a week, but that's for 6 hours of work... it sounds like she is a. overcharging you and b. doing a crappy job.

  8. Oh, plus, my ladies bring their own cleaning supplies, which is nice.

  9. if the person you hired to relieve some of your stress is causing you this much grief, fire her.

  10. I just ran into this woman who works in my building, and she uses this same cleaning woman, and said how much better she is than anyone else she's ever used. I mentioned the dishes, and she said that "no cleaning women do dishes."

    I wonder if my standards are too high. Years ago, our nanny used to also do our dishes, clean our apartment, and do our laundry (and watch our baby) all for $13/hour. Got spoiled by that.

  11. Long-time reader, first time commenter =o).

    I happen to have a lot of experience with housekeepers so felt compelled to jump in here....

    First, if you are unhappy with her services (or lack thereof) you should fire her and search for a person who better suits your needs. Or you could find a new person FIRST then fire the old one.

    That said, in my experience with cleaning people, they generally do NOT do dishes, laundry or pick-up personal clutter. The only ones I know who do those types of services are the live-in housekeepers.

    The once a week variety will clean AROUND your personal artifacts, SOME will even stack your items in a neat pile before cleaning around it, but I have yet to come across one who will actually clean your messes for you and put stuff away. If an area such as the kitchen is messy, they will simply SKIP the area because according to them they can't clean a surface they can't get to and it is MY responsibility to ensure they have INSTANT access to all surfaces I want cleaned. (eye roll)

    Our housekeepers never took out the garbage though they did leave it neatly bagged by the door (never mind the fact that the can was just on the other side of said door). They ALL would do this through the years so we just accepted it as normal.

    They should surface clean EVERYTHING each visit but do detailed and deep cleaning on a rotational basis (like wk1 kitchen, wk2 bathrooms, OR wk1 floor boards, wk2 windows, etc) so that by the end of the month the entire house has been detailed.

    I would expect to pay btwn $100 - 200 each week, PLUS TIP. If there is 1 cleaner I would expect them to be there for 4-6hrs. If 2, then perhaps 3-4hrs.

    GOOD LUCK! I watched my step-mother go through countless housekeepers before she found the right one. And, when the right one moved on... the cycle repeated!

  12. You're right. This is unreasonable. My dad had a cleaner come for a couple years when his back screwed up, and she'd do everything but the laundry (floors, bathroom, dishes, dusting, etc) in 3 hours of work for $40. At first she charged him $50 but that was when she thought it would take 4 hours. Never had trouble with her rescheduling or trying to bump the price up... she broke a couple of knickknacks but let him know.

    I'd say fire her, and find another cleaning woman through an ad online or in the paper. They usually aren't as complacent and lazy and actually do work hard for the money.

  13. Dude, that's crazy... For that kind of money, you deserve a low stress, quality performance. If you're not getting it. Find someone that will.

  14. I had a cleaning woman who once vacuumed AROUND a coat one of my kids had left on the floor. I found someone else. This new one shocked me when she cleaned my cast iron pan.

  15. Oh for heaven's sake, how many people have to say it?? Get rid of her and find someone to do the job BETTER. Actually, I have a young man, college student, that cleans my house once a week. He does a killer job and is available for other, heavier jobs as well.

  16. It's one of those "evils you know" deals. She does a reasonable job, I trust her not to steal, and the price is not too bad for where we live. Also, it seems like from talking to some people, cleaning people these days won't do your dishes (I guess the real question is, why are people who scrub toilets for a living such primadonnas?). And I always remember getting yelled at by my father to "clean up because the cleaning woman is coming tomorrow." So apparently, decluttering prior to a visit is not weird either. I just feel like all these things stress me out.

  17. Wow. You have made me feel spoiled. Mine does laundry, makes beds, deep cleaning, and dishes! for $100/week. She also used to be my nanny, so she takes care of the kids and is available for snow days, sick days, etc. And they love her. I am sitting on a gold mine (which I always sort of knew - I do lots of bonuses and b-day presents), and it is nice to be reminded of that. Oh, and she takes out the trash and recycling.

    There is a funny episode in one of the Pippy Longstocking books where all of the ladies are having tea and complaining about their cleaning people. This blog/comments reminds me of that.

    Keep looking, Fizzy! There are better people out there. Like SeaSideRobin said above, some people do work hard and appreciate the money. Good luck!

    I do declutter, as much as I can. I think it leaves them more time for cleaning (and laundry, and dishes), which is what I feel like I am paying for.

  18. Isn't the point of having a cleaning lady to reduce your stress?

  19. Around here, professional cleaning people start with a thorough cleaning of everything, then after that every week everything gets a maintenance-cleaning, plus one room gets a more in-depth cleaning. They must provide their own cleaning supplies (if they use yours, then they're your employee and the IRS gets fussy about tax documents).

    I like to hire college students, because I can pay them $10 per hour instead of the $20 that the pros want. Once they prove that they actually know how to do housework, I raise it to $15. As long as they're dependable and cheerfully do a good job, I don't mind if they change their schedule every quarter. I give them a letter of recommendation when they graduate. If they're not reliable, or have a lousy attitude, or have substandard work, I thank them for their help and say that I'm sorry it didn't work out. I won't pay someone who won't do the work I need done - that includes dishes, laundry, garbage, and windows. The kids with a good work ethic usually recommend a friend to take their place when they move on, and sometimes even bring friends along in the spring when I need help with the yardwork.

    Did she offer x services, and you agreed to pay $75 for those specific services? Or did you hire someone to help with the housework and discover that she's refusing to do what you've hired her to do? Big difference. How would you react if it was your staff at work instead of at home? Just a thought.

  20. In my house, dishes, taking out the trash and laundry are part of the cleaning process. Sounds to me like you have a sort-of-kind-of cleaning lady. Next thing you know she'll be refusing to do floors and toilets.

    If I were getting paid that much per session, I'd be more than willing to do laundry and dishes. Maybe I'm in the wrong profession...

  21. They WON'T DO THE DISHES? Isn't that one of the things you'd want a regular cleaner to DO? Sheesh!

    Since many of you seem to have some experience in this area...

    I really need to have someone come in and help me do a major overhaul of my house. We're going to be relocating in the next year or two, and it can't all go with us.

    My back sucks, my spouse has asthma and a bum leg. I need a service to HELP ME move crap to new locations, including the trash, and then vacuum the areas the crap was in.

    What type of services do the 'hoarding' TV shows use? That's the kind of service I need. People who can lug stuff.

  22. @ Sarah Glenn: My advice would be to use a free classifieds site like Kijiji or Craigslist, and either look at the services offered (you'll find plenty of hard-working people that offer to do anything around the house, no matter how hard) or put up an ad detailing exactly what it is that you need done.

    The downside/upside about Kijiji is that you'll likely get many responses, which means sorting through a bunch of emails, but in turn that'll let you select the person that sounds just right.

  23. Jeez that's even worse than mine! But seriously go no looking for someone else because besides she's overcharging you she's not doing the work and that does suck.

  24. Goodness gracious, that's a lot of money to be spending on someone that doesn't seem to want to do the job, and tries to worm her way out of doing basic things that's she's paid to do! I'd look for a new one.

  25. If you are paying her, you should be satisfied with the quality of the work...if you aren't, you should find someone new!

    I don't know what to tell you about the diamond shoes, though, those things just won't stretch. LOL.

  26. You need to fire her ASAP! Seriously ... a good cleaning lady is about the most fabulous thing ever. I don't know what I would do without Luisa ... and my parents who inexplicably still pay for her to clean my house even though I am 30 and own my house. Its not like I'm gonna bring it up though! :) Get a good one you trust who does what you want her to do!

  27. First time comment...if its not working out, let her go.

    It's hard to find people you can trust to be in your home, but if I've had a negative vibe at the start, it has never gotten better.

    The last time I had a bad feeling, the cleaner dropped an Inuit sculpture that was a wedding gift. She amputated our 'dancing bear' and didn't even tell us! She left his arms next to him on the shelf.

    Good luck!