Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fool me once.. shame on you.

I am glad that yesterday is done.   Today is a new day, one with many opportunities and decisions. 
From now on I will make the rules and if you do not like it then, Hats Off to you! As in nice seeing ya, Adios and Sayounara!

For too long I have been a people pleaser. I have done whatever it takes, to make other people happy,  especially in my business.  I don't mean that I don't like what I do anymore, but there is a line that people should not cross.  I am NOT a maid.  I AM a house cleaner.  There is absolutely a difference and it's about time people figure that out.  Most of my long time customers knows this.  They treat me wonderfully and with respect.  Others that have not lasted, due to my choice, had this air about them that stank so bad I had to cut them off.  The entitlement syndrome is what I like to call it.  They may have money so they think they are ENTITLED to special treatment.  Special Treatment is not free!  My service is not expensive to begin with, even with providing all my own equipment and cleaning supplies, I am fairly priced.  However, there are services that are not included in a standard cleaning and if you want additional services then there is an extra fee period!

Which leads me to the subject of what happened yesterday.  For six months I have bent over backwards to make the people in the condominium complex happy with my work, to insure that I kept the contract going. After all, it was the bread and butter that held my family together.  For four of those months, I did not get one single complaint.  I went above and beyond to make them happy and even did things that a normal cleaner does not do.  Granted commercial cleaning is a whole different ball of wax but, I prided myself by going two steps beyond any hum drum commercial cleaning company.  I really don't think it was the people so much as the managing office of the complex. In fact the people always complented me and thanked me for doing a wonderul job.

 The general manager was ok but his assistant?  We have found a new wicked witch of the west in her.  She was never in a good mood and never smiled.  I always thought that she must have been born with a frown or a scowl.  I avoided having any contact with her because it reminded me of nails running down a chalkboard.  There were times though that I had to speak to her because the general manager was off on vacations or personal days.  I now understand why he was rarely in the office. 

She tried so hard to get me to do things above and beyond what was stated in the agreement.  I told her I would have no problem doing it but I would have to charge them extra for it.  My perogative and your choice.  Although when the invoice was done and turned over they would always manage to not pay the extra, stating that things that were included in the agreement were not done to their standards.  Which I would reply,  "No they weren't done to YOUR standards but ABOVE your standards". I also told her flat out that she must not have read the agreement because it clearly states that anything performed above and beyond the agreement would be subject to additional charges. If she chose not to pay it would just keep racking up interest and eventually going to collections. That was her choice.

 It got to the point that they went and hired a supervisor for the maintenance staff specifically to try and boss me around.  Instead of her coming to me with the extra stuff that they wanted done, she sent him.  After the first week of him being on the job, I brang in my copy of the agreement, I wasn't going to have some drone try and tell me what I have to be doing without him knowing any better.  So I educated the man on my responsibilities as a vendor and not an employee.  I told him if he wanted to be personally responsible for the extra charges than I would be happy to comply.  I told  him that I would need a credit card on file to be able to charge accordingly.  I was kidding of course, but I really think he thought I was serious.

I think the light bulb went on with him and he backed down. The maintenance staff in general were very nice people. I have been told often by all of them how much they hated working there and if they could get another job some place else they would leave in a heartbeat. I finally got fed up with the association not paying what was due and went into the office. When I  inquired about unpaid balances on their account the witch told me that they no longer required my services, becasuse the board of directors have decided to have the cleaning go in-house. Which meant that they would be hiring people on their payroll to clean.  She then told me to track down the supervisor to get my last months check. My mother was with me and I know it took everything in her to not go off on this woman. I felt bad for my mom because the general manager is actually a friend of my parents. He knew I cleaned for a living, and he wasn't happy with the company that they have had for two years, and he was the one that came to me and asked me to put a bid in. I even went and obtained general liability insurance because without it I could not clean for the complex.  He was there when the confrontation took place and he was the one that broke it up.  My mother and I went to his office and we talked behind closed doors.  I think that pissed off the witch even more and intensified her hatred of me when she was told the conversation was private.

Apparenlty, this year will be his last year with the company.  He is retiring. The witch has put in a bid for his position and to prove to the board how valuable she can be she has taken some of the general managers duties. That includes the budget for the entire complex.  She was the one that instructed the board to go with in house cleaning, stating that she could save them more than half of what they were paying to outsource the cleaning. Yes, she can do that but only by under paying the employees.  Which of course is what they will do.  The one person that they will be hiring will make about $300.00 before taxes a week. She will be part time which means she will not be entitled to benefits.   He was not aware that the board had voted on it so soon because he was in the middle of doing a rebuttal to show the board that in house cleaning is not going to be beneficial for them in the end. The meeting was supposed to take place this past Monday.  He left early last Friday as he always does and the board met and voted on Friday afternoon.  By the time he came into the office on Monday, the witch had already cut my last check and typed up a letter to explain their decision to cut ties with me.  Instead of needing his signarture the witch and the board president had already signed it.  He felt betrayed and was angry but he could do nothing. His hands were tied and that was that.  He apologized to me and he asked my mother to forgive him.  He did not want to this come between their friendship. He attempted to pay the outstanding balance out of his own pocket.  I told him no.  I have legal recourse and I am choosing to use it. He understood.  I felt bad for him but the respect has dwindled.  I think he could have least warned me of what was about to happen.  I wouldn't have been so blinded otherwise. 

Now with this behind me, I will NOT let another soul try and swindle me again.  My contracts have been revised and clearly worded so that something like this will never, ever happen to me again.  Even if they try, the contracts are so binding that the only way of termintating my service for any reason will come with financial consequences.  I am done being a door mat.

Now I am off to start a whole new campaign and to drum up more business so that my family will have roof over thier heads and food in the tummies.  I am a firm believer in one door closing many more will open!

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