Pitfalls of Using a Cleaning Service
Quality and Cost Don't Correlate
What I learned is that paying more doesn't necessarily translate to better service. Our first cleaning service charged 50% more than our second one, and they were about the same quality-wise. Both would break things occasionally ... we lost two microwave trays that way (read about replacement trays here). And both achieved about the same level of cleanliness.
In my own experience and talking to friends, it seems like the level of service is more dependent on how much you pay versus their other clients. The first time they clean, it's amazing ... so much attention to detail. Then, over the years, as they being to take on more profitable clients relative to you, things begin to deteriorate until they start showing up sporadically, doing a slapdash job, and breaking things.
Deterioration in Service
About 9 months ago, our cleaning service stopped showing up. I contacted them about a missed appointment and the response was very blasé, like ... oh yeah, we were supposed to be there and we can come on X day instead if you want. I figured this was their way of ending their time with us, so I let it go and started cleaning the house myself. It felt great!
Then the owner contacted me to apologize and explain she had been away and her team was disorganized in her absence. They started back up again with us, but it was never the same. They missed appointments regularly without notice and when they did show up, it would be at all different times of the day.
Sometimes they'd arrive first thing in the morning before I had a chance to tidy up. On other occasions, they wouldn't show up until after 5pm when I had given up on them and started cooking dinner. The inconsistency was stressful because we would spend time tidying up before they came, and then the kids would have to keep their toys in order until the cleaners showed up ... if they ever showed.
Chips in the paint on our wall became more frequent, and in the span of a few months, they broke our microwave tray, a specialty light bulb from our range hood, and a wooden bar stool. It was hard to fathom how they broke a chunk out of the solid wood bar stool leg, but it was even harder to understand why they tried to repair it with Elmer's glue from my kids' art table. I wound up having to wash the whole thing out before attempting a proper repair with wood glue and clamps.
I also found all sorts of inappropriate things in our garbage disposal. Thankfully, it never broke even though we usually made the discoveries when trying to use it and upon hearing a grating sound. We found, spread out over four occasions, two googly eyes, two dish rags, and a random plastic thing. There would also be bits of metal from stainless steel scouring pads in our kitchen sink and on the hardwood floors, and there's nothing in our house they should have been cleaning with those.
Ending the Relationship
I had decided even before the bar stool incident to end the relationship, and gave them a month's notice. We still had two weeks left after they broke the bar stool, and I couldn't risk having them come to the house another time and do goodness knows what. So I told them they didn't need to come the last time and I sent them a check for the agreed upon time.
It's been a huge relief to no longer have to worry about the cleaners. It's a lot more work for me, but I created a schedule of what to clean each day and it's been working well so far. Not having to hold our breath, waiting for them to show up. Or constantly reminding the kids to keep things neat until they arrive. It's been a welcome reduction in stress for sure. And this way, everything is cleaned the way we want, using the appropriate products, and carefully.