My Beloved Golf Pro gave me the most wonderful Valentines Gift. This week, it came to fruition. Sort of.
After all this reconstruction, my house was more than a bit of a mess. Worse yet, I hadn't been able to actually CLEAN a lot of it during the construction because, well, the living room was in the kitchen.
And... I confess, I haven't been the most focused housekeeper in a while.
And... Well, let's just say this: pale beige/offwhite carpet -- dining room, dog, cat. Yuck.
My present? I got to hire someone to come in to really truly clean the kitchen floor. In fact, I got to hire someone to clean the whole area where the floor is that lovely, but highly textured and bloody difficult to clean tile (the kitchen, sunroom, bathroom, back hall, and laundry room) floor. I HATE cleaning it.. and it was filthy.
I also got to hire someone to clean the carpet in the library/dining room, the stairs, the upstairs hall and our bedroom.
I was excited! I'd interviewed three different companies about the kitchen floor, and two companies about the carpets. The Nationally Franchised Cleaning Service we chose allegedly Knows Clean. They sent over a representative (Calvin) who seemed truly on the ball. He was articulate about what they'd do, and assured us that they were insured, bonded etc., and dedicated to making us happy. As an added bonus, since it actually didn't add that much to the price, I eventually agreed to have them do a full "deep clean" on the kitchen, sunroom, back hall, laundry room and all three bathrooms. That meant that they'd get all the cobwebs out of the corners at the ceiling, wipe down all the baseboards, clean the doors of cabinets etc. as well as cleaning sinks, toilets, tubs, showers, etc. Oh, and the floors.
I was really looking forward to this! Clean floor! and clean kitchen and clean bathrooms!
Alas, I'm no longer quite as excited.
When the team of two arrived (15 minutes late) at 1:15pm to clean the tile floors and as a bonus, clean my kitchen, laundry room and bathrooms, the first person we spoke with commented loudly that she'd been given bad directions. Indeed, she was really loud for the entire time she was here. Pleasant, but loud. (I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt, and am assuming that she suffers some hearing loss from spending too much time talking to people over a loud vacuum cleaner).
Once in the house, Loud Woman asked to be led to the basement, where she'd been told she'd be working.
We don't have a basement. Oops. I guess the same person who gave directions to our house told them what we wanted done. Perhaps there's a house elsewhere wondering why the team only thought they were supposed to clean the kitchen floor and not clean the family room.
I went over the plan with the Loud Woman, (thoroughly clean the tile floors, and while there also do a full clean on the rooms that had them, then clean the upstairs bathrooms). I asked if one of them could start with the master bathroom, so that Golf Pro would be able to take his afternoon nap. They went upstairs, I settled in to do some work.
I guess I should have been more worried when the Team Leader had no idea what her responsibilities were. However, I assumed all would be well. After all, I know that this company cleans the bejeezus out of a place their first time in to ensure that folks will sign a repeating contact. I had told Calvin that we were not ready to sign any such contract yet, but that I would be considering it for at least part of the house, and that means that he was even more motivated to have his crew do a top job.
When they came downstairs, I had to go over the plan again. They were to seriously clean the tile floor, and additionally, to clean the rooms rooms that have tile floors. Even though I had to repeat the scope of the job to her, I didn't worry. I knew that she had a worksheet with her that didn't make any sense. I didn't even bother to go check on their work upstairs.
The Loud Woman and her companion (Sweet Quiet Gal), split up and tackled the bathroom and the kitchen. Again, I assumed that they were doing a good job.
Finally, after "cleaning" everything but the main goal, they went to the laundry room. There, they were surprised to discover that we needed them to move some stuff so that they could thoroughly clean the whole floor. I helped them move the washer and dryer. When I went to move them back after they had allegedly cleaned the laundry room floor, I began to realize that we were in more trouble than a bit of confusion over the scope of the work.
That floor is tile, with wide grout, over which a dog runs many times a day to go in and out of her dog door. I've cleaned this floor. At the best of times, it needs a scrub brush to get the grout clean, and indeed, since the tile is highly textured, to get the tiles clean. These are not the best of times. In addition to the dog trail (that place where she manages to drop mud before it makes it into the rest of the house), there was plenty of dirt from the humidifier leak and it's subsequent repair. The floor was filthy.
The Loud Woman had "cleaned" it wth a cloth and a Mr. Clean solution. Cloth. No brushes. No scrubby sponges. Not even a Dobie.
So, the floor, which was our primary reason for calling the Cleaning Company, was being surface wiped, not CLEANED.
The Loud Woman then asked me whether they needed to move the wicker furniture in the sunroom. How is one supposed to clean a floor without moving the furniture that sits on it? I'd have moved it myself, but had been told that they would take care of it all. It was then that I finally discovered that had not been told they needed to do more than mop the floor. (Mopping these floors is a waste of time, it leaves the deep/wide grout full of dirt). They didn't even have scrub brushes with them. At this point, they'd been here for almost three hours.
I called Calvin. We talked. He talked to the Loud Woman. She opined that it would take her and Sweet Quiet Gal four or five hours to get the floor clean. (FOUR HOURS? -- That would mean that they'd be here til close to 9:00 p.m.!!)
Calvin came to the house to talk to me, to work out a solution. The first thing he did was to try to tell me that we had a communication problem, and that he hadn't understood that I'd wanted the floors thoroughly cleaned; that he thought we just wanted a basic clean on those rooms. Seriously? The only reason we called them was to have them clean the floors. I pointed out to him that while I understood that HIS goal in coming to see us was to get us to contract for repeat visits, MY goal had been to get my floor cleaned. I had repeatedly told him that we needed the floor clean -- and only after he pushed did we agree to add the other work. I told him that as far as I was concerned he had a few options: 1) quit now, take a token payment for the work had been done, and forfeit the deal; or 2) find a way to get my floor actually clean as soon as possible. I reminded him that I'd cleared the day, made sure that I had no clients scheduled, so that his team could clean, and that I couldn't just clear a whole day again.
Eventually, he realized that failing to do what he'd promised to do, what he'd contracted to do, would not only be a guarantee that I'd never call Merry Maids again, but would also guarantee that I'd be likely to complain, and to contest the charge to my credit card.
His plan? He sent the two women home, got one of my buckets, their Mr. Clean and my scrub brushes, and set about to do the floors himself. On his hands and knees.
So, if two women who scrub floors as part of their jobs would take four to five hours to complete the job, how long do we think the office guy who doesn't do this regularly is going to take? Did he think we'd be okay with him hanging out in our kitchen scrubbing floors til midnight? Did he consider that at some point, his hands and knees would give out, and he'd have blisters on his gloveless hands, and he would be unable to finish anyway?
My morning clients are not scheduled for my home office, so I stopped Calvin from continuing his after-hours scrubbing, and asked him to send a crew over before 8:30 a.m. to do the floors. He made a call, and said he could get that done. I stressed that I needed them here and ready to work by 8:30, because I had to leave for work. He said that would be no problem.
At 8:28 this morning, having seen no one arrive to clean the floors, I called the office. I got my dear friend Calvin, who assured me that they were on their way, and should be here in 3-4 minutes, since they'd" left ten minutes ago."
At 8:40 this morning, I slapped a note on the door saying I was sorry I'd missed them, and left for work.
Since then, I've spoken to another fellow, who will be sending over a different crew on another day.
I am prepared to give a decent review in the end if they actually accomplish what they said they'd do. But I will remain a bit disappointed that I had to fight so hard to get what I contracted for.