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Cleaning company - should I pursue damages?

(19 Posts)
BlogOnTheTyne Sun 14-Oct-12 09:35:47

My occasional cleaners came to do the house yesterday and used water on a varnished parquet hallway. The wood is now stained dark in patches as the water has seeped between the wooden blocks and not been able to evaporate. It'll cost a lot to get it rectified. (We once a had small leak from a radiator and the stains from that remains, although in a much smaller and more discrete place than where the cleaners have damaged the floor).

The cleaners actually said to me, when I returned from being out, having left them, as usual, to get on with things, "I know you've said you don't like us to use water here but it looked so dirty...." At the time, I just muttered OK, not realising the damage caused and they'd already done it by then.

There were other things that were not so good, that had distracted me from this main thing - like they'd arrived 45 minutes early and were rather surly as I couldn't let them in yet - having just sat down for lunch with the family and not tidied up enough for them to work.

They'd sat in their car, chain smoking right outside the house/open windows and weren't pleased when I had to make them wait another 15 minutes - although still much much earlier than I'd wanted them there. They're a couple and they'd brought their grown up 'son', although I don't think he's even registered with the company they work for, who isn't good at all at cleaning etc etc.

Before they left, I had to point out some really obvious things that they'd not done but which I'd particularly asked them to do - thick, thick dust on carpets round furniture, entire area of kitchen floor not cleaned at all etc etc. Once they'd gone, I then saw far more stuff undone - had to reclean the bathrooms and vacuum everywhere.

I'm by no means a perfectionist, so it's not that I have unusually high standards. I've had to do this before with them but sort of accept this. They insist on using their own vacuum cleaner, rather than my more powerful one and I don't think it sucks up the dirt efficiently. They seem use a whole roll of my kitchen roll to 'clean' surfaces rather than the sponges I'd bought specially for them to use and that were obviously there with all the other cleaning materials.

I guess I'm less than satisfied with the company anyway but am not sure whether to take it any further re. the floor damage - or just dump the company. I have little time for major hassles but am feeling angry today and wonder if I should complain?

OhTheConfusion Sun 14-Oct-12 09:41:45

Your relationship with them seems odd to begin with tbh. Why could you not allow them access and then continue eating your lunch confused?

With regards to the floor, have you seen a copy of their insurance? Do you have your specific request for them to not use water on it in writing? If the answer is no to the above I would simply ditch the company (as I would regardless) and suck up the cost to rectify the damage.

Enfyshedd Sun 14-Oct-12 09:46:07

I would complain.

They know you didn't want water used to clean the parquet flooring (although have you told them the reason why?)

They brought an unknown (to you) adult onto your premises (dodgy).

Their timekeeping is lousy (What if you'd been out and hadn't got back until 5-10 miutes before they were due? Would they have waited or buggered off?)

Their work is poor.


HappyTurquoise Sun 14-Oct-12 09:56:56

Terrible. I hate it when cleaning companies take advantage like that. (i'm a cleaner)
The work you want doing (and places you want left alone) and when you want them there, and who they can bring, should be listed on a job sheet.
Also, they should use their own cloths, not yours!

Set up your own cleaning company, they clearly need the competition!

BlogOnTheTyne Sun 14-Oct-12 10:04:37

Thanks. I was working earlier in the morning and had only just got time to make the lunch, feed DCs and tidy house so cleaners could access areas. It just wasn't going to work to have 2 men and a woman trying to clean around the family, whilst all this was going on. I'd specifically requested the arrival time to fit with another committment too, wanting to be back before the cleaners finished and if they'd started much much too early, they'd have finished before we'd got back home again.

Re. my relationship with the cleaning company, I pay a quartely fee, ostensibly for 2 hours a week but have been unable, for some time now, since my regular cleaners left, to get regulars in again. So I have occasional cleaners come at the w/e.

These current ones have been to us about 4 or 5 times before over the last few months. There isn't a written contract with them as I barely know them and am so busy, I'm usually rushing out with DCs as they arrive.

However, every time they've come, I've taken them round the house and re-explained what needs to be done and my expectations. The main man is English but his wife and 'son' (not sure if it's a relative really or not) can't speak much English. I now think that the man sends the other two off to do various jobs and hasn't properly repeated to them what I've told him.

I find them intimidating and the man rather patronising towards me but have tried to maintain a friendly relationship with them. They don't pay attention to me saying things like, I've got my own vacuum cleaner or please don't use any bleach at all as your company isn't insured for bleach damages. In fact this time, when i said that about bleach, the man retorted, I may need to use it on the toilets. So I said again, your company isn't insured for bleach damage - but he just shrugged and walked off.

I think I'm just going to have to dump the company and accept the flooring damage as I didn't have a written instruction about not using water - only a verbal one.

BlogOnTheTyne Sun 14-Oct-12 10:07:27

HappyTurquoise, just read your message. I used to work as a cleaner mysefl many years ago. So I've tried to be very sympathetic to the cleaners I've got now but it just isn't working.

I haven't had time to do a job sheet and the company never said I needed one but I can see now that this would have bene a good idea.

I'm one of those people who rushes around tidying and sometimes even cleaning!! (well only the really terrible areas!) before the cleaners arrive!

ThreeWheelsGood Sun 14-Oct-12 10:07:34

Every single thing you've written makes this "company" sound terrible! Definitely never use them again, maybe write to them to explain why - bullet point style, but sadly like you say you won't be able to claim damages.

frantic51 Sun 14-Oct-12 10:08:35

Don't use local cleaning "companies". Either get a local person, who just has a few regular clients and with whom you can build a good personal relationship, or use a reputable, countrywide cleaning company.

I've been in exactly the same situation, they get a cancellation and just turn up early and then get shirty when it's not convenient for the person paying for their services! shock Who wants to have lunch with people cleaning around them and pay through the nose for the privilege? angry

They should also adhere strictly to instructions about how you want various places cleaned. (Can understand that they want to use their own equipment though as, if your cleaner broke down, you could blame them, make them pay etc and it might not be their fault.) However, expensive flooring ruined owing to their NOT cleaning as instructed, definitely their fault!

LilyCocoplatt Sun 14-Oct-12 10:14:56

YANBU to want compensation if you had made it clear that water was not to be used and they did it anyway. Small claims court a possibility?

Revelsarethebest Sun 14-Oct-12 10:23:22


Also, they should use their own cloths, not yours!

This is bad practice, cleaners should NOT use their own cloths in your house. Its cross contamination to use the same cloths in different houses.

My cleaner used to bring her own cloths, and also had about 10 house cleaning jobs a week, as soon as i realized she was bringing her own cloths, i put a stop to that!

Regarding the OP, If they are a registered business then yes i would definatly try to get compensation for the flooring, however they might be working without being registered as a business.

Im surprised you ve put up with this for so long! Two crap cleaning jobs would of been enough for me. Advertise in a shop window for a cleaner.

HecateLarpo Sun 14-Oct-12 10:28:10

You are their customer. If you're not happy with the service you receive - don't use it again. You don't have to feel guilty, or obligated in any way. They aren't doing the job you require - find someone who will.

It's like feeling that you somehow shouldn't switch from tesco to sainsbury grin

You shouldn't feel patronised or intimidated by someone who you are paying to come into your home! You don't owe them a job, you're paying a company for a service!

you should certainly attempt to get compensation for the ruined floor. And change companies.

HappyTurquoise Sun 14-Oct-12 11:01:31

Revel, I totally agree re cross contamination. I use clean top quality, designed for purpose cloths (provided by company I work for) and wash them all. I always use clean, fresh cloths at every place. However, if the customer gets what the customer wants and if they want their own cloths used, that is what happens.

Also, just because I work for a cleaning company doesn't mean I don't build up a relationship and friendships with my customers. I do, where appropriate.

OP, you know this isn't good enough. If you have said no bleach, then they should use an alternative (or your preferred product, if you supply something). Do not let them back in the house, before they do more damage. They can't be trusted.

lollilou Sun 14-Oct-12 11:09:38

Can I just hijack v quickly. How do you clean parquet flooring? We've just moved and have it in our hall and sitting room.

HappyTurquoise Sun 14-Oct-12 11:14:27

BlogOnTheTyne, we are on the same side here, whether you were a cleaner or not. We both know what a good cleaning job is, and that this lot haven't done it.

You do need a telling off for putting up with them for this long! If there is a way to make a claim, go for it. (Small claims court sounds good if you don't have much in writing). If there is a professional ombudsman organisation you can report them to for being in your house and repeatedly going against your instructions, do that too.

ZillionChocolate Sun 14-Oct-12 11:17:08

So you gave them a specific instruction about the floor, they ignored it, they acknowledge that they ignored it and they've damaged your floor? Absolutely pursue it and sack the company.

BlogOnTheTyne Sun 14-Oct-12 11:19:34

I've just now stopped my standing order to the company and emailed to explain why. I've used the company over several years and at one point, had an excellent cleaner. I've had a variety of OK-enough cleaners since then but have latterly only had cleaners in occasionally and only known at the last moment who would turn up.

I always leave a whole lot of cleaning materials for them and they know there these are and always leave clean and new sponges and cloths. They seem to use dusters for cleaning baths etc but I can't prove this as it's only afterwards that I see what they've used and not used and smelled what products are on the cloths.

I think I accept that some of this is my own fault for not having a written list of jobs, although I always go round each room with them and explain in detail what areas I want done. I always feel like they think I'm being too bossy as a woman and so I try to lighten the atmosphere with lots of friendly smiles. I find the dynamic of me - as younger woman - instructing an older man, his 30s year old son and his wife, really difficult actually.

I think, in hindsight, I should have been less friendly and more business-like and not made so many allowances.

geegee888 Sun 14-Oct-12 12:09:47

YANBU. They sound awful cleaners, really awful. I mean, they don't get things clean, they miss things, they damage things and are awkward to deal wtih. I also don't like the idea of bringing along the son without your permission. It sounds like you would do better without them.

As for claiming damages, probably too difficult. I'd certainly make your complaint known though. Shouldn't the floor be sealed so as to not allow water ingress, or is that different with parquet? Even so, I would have expected them not to use water on a floor, because so many floors are laminate and not always water proof, and easily damaged. I would have thought it general knowledge!

Viviennemary Sun 14-Oct-12 12:17:37

They sound dreadful. I expect yours won't be the first complaint they will have had. I had a cleaner once who sprayed the glass front of the gas fire with something like Mr Sheen and the flame shot up with a hissing noise. I thought it was going to explode. And I thought goodness knows what she does when I'm not there. She was somebody I knew so it was difficult to complain. That is a total mistake having somebody you know clean. Never again.

wheresmespecs Sun 14-Oct-12 13:41:48

Yes, I would complain.

We have a once a week cleaner and they are great, they make life so much easier and are very easy going, responsible and good to deal with.

I have used cleaners in the past and had problems - getting them to turn up at the agreed time (and it was agreed, not me dictating) was hard. They'd turn up 4 hours early, or late, and when I said it wasn't convenient (I worked from home) they'd get irritated and just said 'oh, we'll leave it this week then.'

the cleaners from an agency were poor - 2 teenage girls who just didn't know where to start, and who were dropped off and picked up by the man who ran the business - it all felt wrong and I cancelled that contract.

I have always felt awkard dealing with cleaners (until the current ones). I think I feel like I still should be cleaning my own home in some way. I only got a cleaner when I was working 7 days a week and was too tired to clean the bathroom and kitchen at 2 in the morning.... but there's still a bit of uncomfortableness there. I don't tend to tell people I've got a cleaner either, as I've had a couple of 'oh, you have a CLEANER, do you....? my mother raised 5 children and worked all her life and always had the grate sparkling' type responses.

It does affect how I deal with them. I'm always a bit apologetic. I wouldn't be with any other service, I'm polite and assertive if I need to be.

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