18 August, 2009

What Do You Care? It Comes Out of Their Deposit.

I'm taking back our recommendation for the clean-up crew for the condo. The work was fine, the place was clean, but after trying to get an invoice from them for several weeks now, they went ahead and charged the credit card what we feel is an arbitrary amount.

We agreed to $20/hour, per worker (standard for the City). After describing the mess left by the tenants as "urine-soaked from wall to wall" and "overall filthy," as well as letting them know there were three bedrooms and two bathrooms plus living room/kitchen, were told it would be an additional flat charge of $23 for cleaning supplies. Four men for 4.5 hours, plus cleaning supplies, comes to $383. We were charged $450.

When the cleaning team left, they didn't give us anything to sign off on, telling us that we'd get a call back from their boss the next day. That call never came. After a few days, we finally decided we better call them, because we really need an invoice from them to document the deduction from the tenants' deposit.

Almost three weeks later, we're still waiting on an invoice, although they did finally charge us for the service last week. Because of the price disparity, Ted asked for an itemization. "Five hours for the cleaners, and the rest was for cleaning supplies," he was told. The owner couldn't itemize further what kind of cleaning supplies or how much was used, and I know that when the crew arrived it was with half-used containers of cleaning products. Nothing fancy, either. Buckets, bleach, Windex, a pile of old rags, etc.

Ted pressed her further, because it was obvious they are padding the bill, both the hours and the amount for cleaning supplies. The owner then got very belligerent, saying that they did us a favor by coming in that same night, that the place was dirtier than they expected and we were lucky they accepted the assignment at all. (What part of "urine-soaked" didn't she understand?)

But here's the kicker. The owner tells Ted: "What do you care, anyway, what it costs? It comes out of their deposit."

I know the difference really isn't much, when you get down to it. But it's the principle. We have a lot of legitimate expenses to cover on the condo cleanup and urine remediation. As angry as we are with the former tenants, being punitive or excessive with charges does not help our case, should it go to court. There is already more damage than the deposit covers, and if we do end up in court, we're going to have to prove the cost of everything with receipts. So we're trying to do as much as we can ourselves to keep the costs down. For this cleaning service to blatantly pad the bill after we agreed to terms and then turn it around on us as if we're being unreasonable is outrageous.

Too bad, too. I thought they did a fine job cleaning. But we won't be using them again for our properties, nor can we recommend them.


Jen said...

What a nightmare.

Anonymous said...

Reverse the charges on your credit card. They charged you more than you agreed to, and refused to send you an itemized invoice, so I believe you have a right to do so.

Shane said...

I agree with Anon. Call them up and let them know that since they charged more than agreed to that you will be stopping payment on it and that you expect a charge for the agreed upon amount.

Jennifer said...

I'd also write them a letter letting them why you will not be using them for any of your rentals.

No excuse.

Them and body shops dealing with insurance...

Anonymous said...

Definitely dispute the charge on the credit card. They will at least have to present an invoice to the credit card company to substantiate the amount of the charge.

You may be able to get an itemized invoice if you give the credit card company enough info that they realize that an invoice for the flat amount charged isn't going to be sufficient.

You'll have to submit a written account - but you can cut & paste from the blog! You obviously write well and aren't intimidated by such requirements.

That really is a lousy attitude on the part of the cleaning company. I'm sure any recommendations you make for cleaning will be two part - "use anyone else but don't use these idiots as they have a billing problem"

Hope you are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel on condo cleanup.


Karen Anne said...

One thing after another. How stressful for you.

But at least the place is clean. Even though you now have a new problem, at least that's one thing accomplished.

Debra said...

In this economy, people should realize how much 'word of mouth' references are worth.

I would send them a letter of complaint and make sure they know that you were given a verbal estimate and although you appreciate their quick response; you took them at their word.

Jess said...

You can definitely ask to have the charges contested on your credit card. Just a note though: the credit card folks usually do this a few times without questioning you much. The more you do it, and/or the larger you do it for, the more the credit card may question you.

However, what they did was not provide you an accounting. Without this, you can contest the charge easily with them or/and your credit card. Though you had a contract, it was for a specific amount, and the billed amount is different than what your agreement indicated.

I'd reverse the charges on your credit card, but simultaneously send them a follow-up letter indicating what you are doing with your credit card. You don't want these creeps coming after you for breach of contract.

Joanne said...

At this point, it's taken more time with phone calls and messages than the disputed amount is worth, but it's the principle. We're not the first people this company has tried to jerk around. Hopefully, we'll be the last.

After calling the credit card company to check our options, we went ahead and sent the cleaning company a certified letter outlining the grievance and what we'd like to see as a remediation. We're giving them a week to respond. If they don't credit us, we'll go ahead and reverse the charge and pay them when they send us a proper invoice for the agreed-upon amount. This shows the credit card company that we tried to negotiate with the merchant before reversing the charge.

As of this morning, there was still no invoice (despite FIVE requests for one in the last few weeks). It finally came through right as we were in line at the post office mailing them a certified letter, go figure.

We'll see what happens.

Jocelyn said...

Joanne, I have just been catching up on your posts and I am so sorry to read about your tenant problems. It sounds like you have a handle on it now, but my God, people can be so horrible. The lack of respect for property is staggering.

We have one tip for you. We never speak to the last landlord because that person might want to get rid of a bad tenant. Rather, we ask for the landlord before the current one. Not saying any of this is your fault because it isn't. You were taken advantage of.

I hope you get the money back and again, I'm sorry to read about all this.

Cristina Van Dyck said...