Compare Your House Cleaning Service Options
Planning to shop around? That’s what all the smart people do. Here is a check list of questions and issues to address when you interview a cleaning service. There is more to consider than you may have thought.
Affordable Quality Housecleaning
Hire a Private Person
Most Yellow Page Companies
|Do you answer your phone during regular business hours?||Almost never. May have a machine, if the phone is in service.||Usually a machine.|
|How much does it cost?||Check to see if you are in our service area, then call during business hours and we’ll give you a quick quote right over the phone. After hours, just go to our pricing page, fill out a simple form about your house, and we will phone, e-mail, or fax, you our affordable price the next day.||It varies widely, and is usually done on a cash only basis. The hidden costs are cleaning supplies and equipment, feeding them lunch, birthday gifts, holiday gifts, breakage, no-showing when you need them most,employment taxes/paperwork, and all the stress of being an employer.||First leave repeated messages on their machine and hope they get back to you. If the price you finally get is significantly lower than the legitimate services, it is probably “too good to be true”.|
|Do you bring all the supplies and equipment you need.
||Yes. Chemicals, mops, buckets, rags, vacuums, etc. come with the team at no extra charge.||Almost never. Be prepared to run out to the store the night before if you run out of something.||Varies.|
|Am I responsible to the IRS for paying payroll and other taxes?||Absolutely not, we pay all appropriate taxes. You are simply our customer and not an employer. You have no responsibility to the IRS whatsoever.||Yes, if you pay them more than $1,200 in a year you must file Schedule H and pay 15.3% Soc. Sec. Tax for both employer and employee. You may also have to pay additional unemployment taxes.||You are only safe if they directly employ their staff and withhold payroll taxes. Be sure this is the case. This is a very important distinction.|
|Are the cleaners direct employees or independent contractors?||Direct payrolled employees. Protected by Workman’s Comp, Unemployment, etc. All payroll taxes are covered.||Independent contractor. Actually your employee.||Our surveys show that more than half the services in the yellow pages use independent contractor labor. This is contrary to IRS regulations.|
|Are your cleaners legal to work in this country?||Yes, every employee is legally documented.||Since you are now an employer, it is your legal responsibility to be sure they are legal by completing an I-9 form. If they are not, you are subject to fines.||Only direct employees are required to provide proper documentation, but employers don’t always comply.|
|Do you carry workman’s compensation insurance for your employees?||No. You will likely be sued if they are hurt on the job.||Required by law for direct employees. If they are not covered, and are hurt in your home, they can sue you.|
|Do you carry general liability insurance to cover breakage or damage?||Never||Many do not. Be sure to ask.|
|Are your employees bonded?||
|Do you use company vehicles with proper insurance?||
|Do they wear uniforms?||Aprons with Company Name||Seldom||Seldom|
|How many people come to my house?||2 or 3, the ideal balance of safety, security, and efficiency.||Usually alone, which is not safe, secure, or efficient.||Varies from 1 to 5. More than 3 is very inefficient for small and average sized homes.|
|Do you guarantee your work?||We will come right back next day and correct any problems.||Rarely||Seldom|
|How do you monitor quality?||A stamped reply card is left after each visit. We can address problems immediately by phone during business hours.||Wait for complaints.||Wait for complaints.|
|Can you provide me with the following documentation?||Click here to see our certificates.||No way, I don’t want to pay taxes on my wages or 6% sales tax to NJ.
Clever operators may charge you sales tax and pocket the extra 6%.
|Be sure to ask for the proper documentation if you aren’t absolutely sure!
Is all this stuff real? Does anyone ever really run into trouble over these issues? Do you remember Zoë Baird? If she hadn’t been paying cash to illegal household employees, she would have become Attorney General of the US in January 1993. If you think that was an isolated incident, what about judge Kimba Woods? Shortly after Baird withdrew, her replacement Ms. Woods withdrew her name as well, when a similar transgression was uncovered. Most recently in January 2001, Linda Chavez lost her chance to be George W Bush’s Secretary of Labor for the same reason. These were not stupid or foolish people, they just didn’t understand the implications of what they were doing. For more complete information about domestic employees, here is an explanation from the IRS.