10 Tips For Hiring a House Cleaning Service

10 Tips For Hiring a House Cleaning Service. What you should know and consider before hiring someone to clean your home! Ever hire a home cleaning service? Have you been disappointed with the results? Or, would you like to get a little more out of the cleaning service that comes to your home? Here are 10 tips for hiring a house cleaning service that I have learned over the years.

10 Tips For Hiring a House Cleaning Service

What you should know and consider before hiring someone to clean your home!

Ever hire a home cleaning service? Have you been disappointed with the results? Or, would you like to get a little more out of the cleaning service that comes to your home? Here are 10 tips for hiring a house cleaning service that I have learned over the years:

Interview more than one potential service. If you are interviewing individuals, you need to be comfortable with that person (people). If you are hiring from a large company, ask if they will send the same person consistently, or if they rotate staff. There are pros and cons to both: the same person is familiar with your house, but I have noticed the longer the same person cleans for me, the more places that should be cleaned, are missed. The downside to a new crew weekly: there is a learning curve that I am paying for as they familiarize themselves with my home.

Make certain the individual or agency (and their employees) are licensed and insured. If they break something, will it be replaced? Repaired? If someone if hurt in your home, who will pay the medical bills?

Define the scope. Are you looking for a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or a one-time clean. Make certain that everything you want done, will be done. If the cleaning crew needs to use a stepladder to get to the top shelf and dust, are they willing to do so? Will your furniture and lampshades regularly be vacuumed? What about under cushions? Is cleaning out the refrigerator extra? Are baseboards regularly dusted? Door and window casements? Will the dog-snot be washed from the front door? Are nicknacks dusted? How much to clean a finished-basement? How is the kitchen floor washed? Mop or hands and knees? Ask about OSHA restrictions. I once had a cleaning service tell me it was against OSHA rules for them to use ammonia in my house.

Make sure pricing is explicit! If you are hiring an agency, make certain that there are no hidden fees. If you are hiring an individual, make certain they are paying their taxes and social security. Definitely consult an accountant to make certain you are not hiring that person as an employee, but as an independent contractor. The tax implications for you of one versus the other are great, so make certain your accountant fully explains the ramifications of hiring an individual to you.

Don’t forget to inform the agency/individual of any pets you may have for allergy and phobia considerations. You may think a white rat allowed to roam loose about the house is perfectly normal. The house cleaner may freak and beat Whitey with a broom. The cleaning service may also schedule more time for a dog that sheds copious amounts of fur, may not be willing to change the litter box or the lining of a bird cage. Or, those services may come with an additional cost.

Who supplies the cleaning products? I have steered away from the ultra green companies that will not use a swiffer on my furniture, but would rather spray everything down and wipe away the dust. Regardless of how gentle, I don’t want anything sprayed on my furnishings. And, while vinegar may be an excellent cleaner, it will destroy my marble floor. I have found very few products that don’t leave streaks on my stainless steel appliances, so I want to be certain that the cleaning company is happy to some/all of my products.

Discuss with the service how many people will be coming to your home. You have cleaned your house and know how long (or short) it takes to clean. If it takes 6 hours for you to clean, do not expect a cleaning service to be able to accomplish the same task in 4 man-hours. I prefer one person in my house for every 2 man-hours of labor. I truly do not want a cleaning service here all day, and cleaning is hard work! That means one person will take longer to clean your 6 man-hour house than 3 people at 2 hours each. Fatigue sets in and people slow down. Not only that, but do you really want one house cleaner in your home all day long?

Decide if you need to be home when the cleaning is conducted. Most companies/individuals give an arrival time-frame. Only first service of the day will be “on time”. If you expect a service “between 10 and 12”, and then they clean for the next 2 hours, you need to block out that time to be home. However, if you are willing to give a service a key to your house (or a code if you have coded locks and security system), you are not tied to the house during that time-frame.

Do not clean your house before the cleaning service arrives. Believe me, you will not be the messiest/dirtiest/most disgusting house a seasoned house cleaner has ever seen, especially if they do trash-outs.

Do pick-up and put away the clutter. The more surfaces that are clear of clutter the better the job in the shortest possible time the cleaners can perform. Moving clutter takes time, and some agencies will not do it. I cannot stress the importance of: put away your junk! Also, don’t forget to put away jewelry, prescription medications and cash. Yes, you have checked for licensing and bonding, but better safe than tempted. I have never had a cleaning person snoop or take anything. Ever. But, there is always a first time.

Do you have any tips for hiring a house cleaning service?

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Auctions as a Source Of Cheap Goods

Auctions as a Source Of Cheap Goods

Hubby has gone to auctions in the past, and finally convinced me to tag along. He’s gut renovating a few apartments, and needed nearly everything you can imagine – from kitchen cabinets to flooring to tubs – to complete those renovations.

When he saw a local Auction house was back in business, he piled me into the car and we took off with a list.

Now the first thing you need to know about auctions, is you need to provide ID (driver’s license or passport) and sign in at the office. You will be required to pay for all your purchases in full before taking anything off the lot, there are no refunds (that is a squishy policy, if it plain doesn’t work some auction houses will make good), and there is generally a buyer’s premium plus you pay sale tax. In our case that added over 20% to anything we were purchasing. Check if your auction house accepts credit cards (and what type), or if it is cash only.

Still, we got some excellent deals!

Auctions as a Source Of Cheap Goods

Lots of tools, smoke detectors, flashlights and other miscellaneous items on full shelf purchases.

Auctions as a Source Of Cheap Goods

This was $25, which we gave to Sonny-boy. No word yet if it works. (It is almost a year later and I still don’t know if it works!!)

Auctions as a Source Of Cheap Goods

Hubby bought a lot of vinyl flooring. Some of it was stuck together, and when we returned later with it, hubby was given a credit.

Auctions as a Source Of Cheap Goods

These medicine chests were $25 + premium, the stickers say $107.

Auctions as a Source Of Cheap Goods

Bathroom fixtures, faucets (OMG! the deals we got on faucets), toilet seats, microwaves, patio furniture, fire pits – you name it, it was there. The volume of product available was astounding.

The auction house owner announced immediately that there were a lot of known ebayers there, and their money was as good as anyone else’s. Apparently that was to entice people to pay more? The tools were first up, and I am sure many of those are now up on eBay.

The auction continued in the main room for the first hour or so, and then we broke off into groups to follow one of the other two auctioneers, or stay with the original auctioneer. At this point hubby and I went in separate directions. By sheer luck I ended up on the room with the better deals. I bought a 36″ bathroom vanity, vanity top, mirror and matching toilet for $125 total. The bathroom towel bars and accessories I purchased worked out to under $5 each for name brand. Hubby did well, I did great – and it was all a function of the auctioneer and how high the people following him were willing to go. In my group, the answer was not very high at all.

Hubby checked out this auction the day before at preview. I would urge people to do so to determine if what you want is ding and dent free, and at what point in the auction your interests will come up. For instance, the auction was supposed to begin at 10 am, didn’t start until 10:30 am, and then they had tools for the next 90 minutes. We could have shown up at noon and stayed later, getting more goods that we had an interest in buying.

Also realize that even if you are the first person buying and want to leave, you have to wait for the auction sheets to get to the office. Estimate 20-30 minutes after your last win before you can pay. Then you can pick up your stuff (unless other arrangements have been made), load and leave.

A few other notes:

This can last for hours and hours. When you go to the preview, ask the owner how long s/he thinks the sale will go the next day. You can estimate 100 items per hour, but if there are 3-4 auctioneers working at the same time, things will run much faster than just one auctioneer.

Hubby kept track of every lot he won, and how much he paid for it. Me? Not-so-much. I think tracking is a smart idea, so bring pen, paper and clipboard to write on.

We went back for the clearance sale a few weeks later. We envisioned everything tagged (like a yard sale). It didn’t quite work that way at this sale. Basically we gathered a pile and the auction house owner gave us a total. He did give us a nebulous credit for the stuck-together-tile, and our total for a pile of good facets and other miscellaneous goods was about the cost of one of the Moen faucets we purchase would have been retail, so we did get a very good deal. I just feel we got some great deals at the auction itself.

Have you ever been to a goods auction? How did that work out for you?

Note: this post originally appeared on my old blog, Coupons, Deals and More.

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What To Do If Your Credit Card Information Is Stolen

What To Do If Your Credit Card Information Is Stolen

What To Do If Your Credit Card Information Is Stolen; steps to take when your credit card information is stolen.

Last year, my credit card information was stolen twice! The first time my CC company called me about suspicious activity, and the account was immediately closed without any fraudulent activity ever being added to my account. I was then sent new cards, and all was good.

Or so I thought.

Thereafter at least once a month I would get a call from the fraud alert department of my credit card company asking me if this-or-that charge was authorized. This was a giant PITA because Sonny-boy uses my card, and while some items were easily recognizable, other items I had to call back about later. Inevitably, every fraud alert call was a waste of my time … until it wasn’t.

While down in Florida in February of 2012, I received another call from my credit card company. Some inner sense must have kicked in, because instead of getting testy with another useless call, I was very pleasant to the rep calling.

The fraud agent asked me about some charges that were coming from somewhere in Europe. They were not mine, so all three were denied, and never hit the account. I thought all was well, when two weeks later I received yet another call. This time, over $1600 in charges that were not mine had been placed on my card in just a few days.

My credit card company emailed me a fraud statement that I had to sign. When I checked it to return, the dates did not match-up. I was looking at my paper statement, and the fraudulent charges started 2/8/12 not the 2/15/12 listed in the email.

After placing another call to my credit card company, we figured out another $2400 in fraudulent charges had been added to this card. Everything from adult websites to clothing stores to auto part retailers, and nearly all charges were from Europe or South America.

I saw a great deal of irony in the fact that so many of my valid charges were called upon for verification in the eight months prior, but a week long spat of overseas charges for adult entertainment was completely missed by my credit card company.

So what can you do to protect yourself from a cyber thief?

• While most major retailer websites have secure check-outs, always check for a secure feature (remember the lock on ie?)
• Try and use a credit card online that offers a one-time-use feature. Citibank is the only card I know of that currently has this feature, and is what hubby and I use for online purchases. You can be sure Sonny-boy will be applying when he gets home from spring break.
• Some credit cards allow you to receive an email alert for every charge to your card. It is a great way to keep tabs on your account activity.
• Many websites now accept paypal as payment. If your credit card is attached to your paypal account, it is another layer of protection against internet thieves.
• Know where your credit card is at all times. Sometimes you can’t keep the server that is swiping your card at a restaurant in sight at all times, but do try.
• Shred your old statements if you still receive paper ones. Make sure you shred your receipts too once you compare them to your bill for proper account reconciliation.

And what do you do if your information is stolen, and fraudulent charges are placed on your card?

• If you suspect your card has been compromised, contact the fraud department of your credit card to report the charge. Some credit cards accept verbal confirmation of an unauthorized charge, and will email you a form to email back to confirm you did not make these charges. Other credit card companies may require written verification. It is best to ask when you call the fraud department exactly what they want.
Here are the federal guidelines on stolen credit cards.
• Close your credit card and have a new one reissued. Yes, it is a pain, but so is never knowing when the next bad charge will arrive.
• And remember, if a website looks iffy, don’t buy there. Better safe than sorry.

And sometimes, there is nothing you can do. Very secure websites are compromised. Someone swipes the credit card image and you never saw it. There are all types of thieves out there that would rather use their talents for evil instead of good. Just remember that you are not liable for unauthorized charges, and while inconvenient, waiting for a new credit card is better than the alternatives.

Do you have any other thoughts on what to do if your credit card information is stolen?

Note: this post originally appeared on my old blog, Coupons, Deals and More.

For more Library reading on Ann’s Entitled Life, click here.

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