What to do when ‘the help’ asks for money?

I was surprised to read yesterday on the blog how many people still had housekeepers, and I wanted to relate a dilemma to you from another mom.

This mom has been using a regular cleaning service for a while. She has a team that comes to clean but the owner/manager doesn’t come to the house much.

A few weeks ago, after her cleaning, the manager/owner called her and told her that one of the maid’s mother had died and she wondered if the mom could loan her $500 to give to the woman. (I guess to help her get home for the funeral.)

My friend was shocked that she would ask for a loan and especially that much. Her compromise was to offer to pay for two cleanings in advance and give her $200. That is still a leap of faith because if they don’t do the cleanings, she is out the $200. But at least she wouldn’t be hounding them to give back the money, just the service.

But now she feels like they crossed a line by asking for the money and despite having paid for future cleanings, she isn’t sure she’s comfortable with them coming back.

I had never experienced anything like that… until later that day. I got a call from my yard guy’s wife. His wife said that his mother had died. I knew she had been sick. I’m so stupid. I said “Gosh, don’t worry about coming. Take as much time as he needs. We are totally fine. Please tell him I am so sorry for his loss.” She says, “Oh well thanks, but we were wondering if you could give us a donation?”

I was really surprised that asked and I just thought it was odd. I did give him some money the next time he came to do the yard. It was just a straight-up gift but not nearly as much as my friend gave in the first scenario.

What do you think of these two situations? Does it bother you or there’s no crime in asking? Would you want the housekeepers back in your house or would that bother you? Would you give as a straight gift, pay for future services, or a loan?

53 comments Add your comment

Anj

December 7th, 2011
5:50 am

…….?

I would be just as surprised as you. Although I doubt I would give them any money being that we don’t have extra. (note: we do not pay for housekeeping or yard work)

In the first story, I think I would be peeved that the OWNER was asking ME for a loan. Again, I would have turned them down due to lack of funds. I think it was generous of her to make the advance payment offer, which I think was more reasonable than an unsecured loan.

MomsRule

December 7th, 2011
6:13 am

Wow – Just wow!

I would not be happy with either scenario. Tacky and completely unprofessional.

missnadine

December 7th, 2011
6:45 am

Your living in Arizona has made you even more clueless than before. If you lived here, you would know that most parents are discussing the Jorelys Rivera case, not whether or not the help ever asks them for money. I vote to bring back the at-home dad to take this spot.

catlady

December 7th, 2011
6:54 am

No, I would not loan the money. I would figure that someone had “scoped me out” that I had extra $. I would also cancel my use of that service, and tell the owner why.

mom2alex&max

December 7th, 2011
6:58 am

Wow. I’d be shocked if this happened to me. And promptly get a different cleaning service.

But you know Theresa, in South America this is not an unheard of scenario. The relationship between housekeeper and family is different. A lot of times the housekeeper lives in your home and it is much more involved with the family..almost like another member. So it is not unheard of for the lady of the house to get involved in the housekeeper’s “problems” and help her.

But I wouldn’t do it here. It smells of a scam to me!

catlady

December 7th, 2011
6:59 am

This is where “I will have to check with my husband (bodyguard, police officer neighbor, lawyer)” would come in handy.

Gtmom

December 7th, 2011
7:00 am

When our nanny passed away, we decided to foot the bill. Our Nanny did not have much money nor did her family. But our nanny was closer to our son than any of his grandparents. She was a family member. I don’t know what I would do if a housekeeper/lawn guy asked me for money. I don’t even know our housekeeper. I do give a $100 for Christmas gift so I would probably just give them that and tell that person that was their Christmas gift.

homeschooler

December 7th, 2011
7:13 am

My first comment got lost so I’m going to try this again.
First let me say that I am not trying be racist or start some sort of debate on illegal immigration. Just wondering. Are these American owned companies or are they owned by Hispanis/Latinos? I only ask because in that community there seems to be more of a village mentality and they assume that everyone wants to help so they think nothing of asking, especially the people who seem to have more money to give. It’s a cultural thing.
Now, if these are Americans, I would just roll my eyes and assume they have no class and no sense of business ownership.
In either case, I would have to wonder if their service and the price I pay is worth having them around. You have to wonder, if they are asking for this money, can they afford a problem that comes up? For example, if your lawn guy, while mowing, throws a rock through your window or if your friend’s maid ruins her carpet by spilling bleach on it, it is doubtful they can afford to pay to repair what they have damaged. Suddenly those cheaper rates have cost you a fortune. I doubt they have Workers comp. or General Liability ins.
Personally I pay 65 dollars once every two weeks for my cleaning service. That is cheap around here and if my maids destroy something, I am screwed. btw…we give up cable tv and other things most have to pay for this service. My maids have never asked me for money but did ask me to pay in cash once b/c they didn’t have enough money to get to the next job. :-)

@ missnadine..some of us are happy to think of other things. I’ve thought of nothing but that child since Friday night.

Me

December 7th, 2011
7:34 am

Again, I find myseld agreeing with @catlady on this. Not only would I not provide the monies, I would also take offense at the owner of the company asking for such and would then be searching for a new provider.
@gtmom — in your circumstance, I probably would do the same thing since the nanny was basically a part of the family.

motherjanegoose

December 7th, 2011
7:53 am

Since I do not have a housekeeper ( but would like one and mentioned it yesterday in case anyone has any ideas for one by the MOG that is about $15 per hour) nor a yard person, I do not know what the protocol is. I was thinking last night that I DID have a housekeeper when we were first married and lived in Texas. I remember that her name was Linda and she cleaned several teacher’s houses. I think I paid her $7 per hour and that was 25 years ago.

Anyway, I do not mind helping someone if this is legit. Loaning someone $500 is a big NO for me unless I just plan to GIVE them $500. I do not loan large amounts of money unless I do not care if I get it back. If I liked the help, I would give $100 readily as the relationship is important to me and if I felt like it was a true story, which is sometimes hard to tell.

We do not hire much out around here. We actually hired a painter a year ago to do outside painting and some woodwork and then decided to just let him work inside too. It was nice to get everything done all at once instead of projects being strung out for weeks or months. I brought them lunch and also gave them some bags of clothes that my daughter had outgrown as she is in college and his daughter is in middle school. They were clothes I would take to the consignment store but thought his daughter might like them.

My husband ripped off our deck and put in a new one this summer ( with a friend). The old wood sat out on our grass, for almost 4 months as he was not sure what he was going to do with it. We had planned to get new sod but now that will happen in the spring. We do not own a truck. I found someone to haul it away and am so happy it is gone. Sometimes, projects take a long time here. We are frugal and saved almost $2000 when my husband rebuilt the deck instead of hiring it out but it was a mess in our yard!

When the hardwood floors went in, that was going to take a week. It was almost 2 weeks and there was sawdust everywhere. I had to leave for an out of town meeting. When I got home, it looked great and I am so happy with my hard wood floors now! We are lucky to have a wonderful friend who helps out with these projects! This is why we rarely hire out.

TallMom

December 7th, 2011
7:54 am

I have fallen on very hard times in the past and even once had to ask a family member for a loan…days of agonizing over asking, selling everything I had of value first…swallowing my pride and asking for help…and it was from my brother and less than $100.

I cannot fathom asking a client/almost stranger for MONEY. Ever.

I’m a home daycare provider…I’m very close with my families and usually provide childcare for them for YEARS…I consider them a part of my family and I’m sure they feel the same…and I STILL wouldn’t ask them for money.

Am I the exception? Do people these days feel comfortable asking for money from just anyone? Do they blame the economy?

And for TWG’s mom friend whose maid service asked for money…I would terminate my relationship with them immediately and forget about the $200. They obviously have developed an impression of this woman that says “Hey…she’s got so much money, we can ask for $500 and it won’t be anything to her”. I would be concerned things might start going missing or there will be other uncomfortable phone calls requesting money.

Anj

December 7th, 2011
8:02 am

About Jorelys Rivera – those cases always grab the headlines for weeks, months or even years if an opportunistic media type grabs it and runs. I am without the television, so I haven’t heard much about it. (IOW – I haven’t been subjected to relentless breathless updates and breaking news stories about it.)

Augusta

December 7th, 2011
8:08 am

If it were a live in housekeeper/nanny and she was part of the family, maybe. But for a company to call it’s customers and ask for that kind of money…..I’d hire another company, and like Catlady said, I’d call the owner and tell her why.

My cousin’s ex wife died in October. They had been divorced for over 20 years, but still were on good terms becuase of the kids. She didn’t have a lot of money, neither does he. He had the nerve to call MY MOM to ask for money for the funeral. She said H#LL NO, it wasn’t her responsibility, it was the deceased’s family’s responsibility.

Jess

December 7th, 2011
8:27 am

Sorry, maybe I am just getting more and more sceptical as I get older, but frankly I think the 2 of you were just “suckered”. Think about it, its the holiday season, money is tight especially for those people in the industry of house and yard keeping.

motherjanegoose

December 7th, 2011
8:30 am

Related…some of you yesterday suggested I look for someone in my area ( to clean my house) and here is one I found…which is why I will not be scheduling someone to clean my house on a regular basis as I could make a car payment for this amount:

A furnished, two-level, 3BR, 2.5BA, 2500-sqft home, with pets, not too dirty, and without the need to clean inside the refrigerator and oven. A typical charge for the first cleaning is $170. A typical rate for each biweekly cleaning afterwards is $120.

Not sure how you can find someone for $15 an hour ….maybe that is an unrealistic expectation? I have no idea. I can clean my house in 4 hours and I am 52! Do they charge more due to cleaning supplies?

K's mom

December 7th, 2011
8:43 am

TACKY, TACKY, TACKY…cultural or not that is just tacky. If someone offers help, that is one thing, but solicitations are just wrong in this sort of situation.

Really?

December 7th, 2011
8:44 am

How absolutely unprofessional! Beware though, a story ran in the news not too long ago similar to this. People were showing a picture of a toddler who had “died” and asking for money to help bury him. They messed up and said a particular funeral home. When contacted, the funeral home knew nothing of the deceased boy. Total scam, this could easily be one too. I am just floored by how unprofessional this is on both counts. I would find new service.

jarvis

December 7th, 2011
8:46 am

People are shameless.

My mother-in-law had a handy man put up a picket fence for her, and do some other odd jobs (by the way, he did a lousy job on the fence). About a year later he called my MIL, and told her that he wa going to lose his house if he didn’t come up with some money. He proceeded to ask her for $2K.

Who asks a near stranger for 2 grande?

Professor Plum

December 7th, 2011
8:50 am

Last time the help asked me for a loan, I turned them in to INS.

Alecia

December 7th, 2011
8:51 am

Does this mean that the cleaning company does not have the money to pay their bond/insurance? If the owner is tight on money, chances are the bond has expired or worse, there’s no worker’s comp. insurance. This means no protection if a desperate employee steals valuables or a lawsuit if someone gets hurt on your property.

Techmom

December 7th, 2011
8:52 am

@MJG we have a lady clean the first level of our house every other week for $80 and it takes her about 4 hours. We have a pretty big house so the main area is kitchen, laundry, two baths, living room, keeping room, dining room and master.

I could probably find someone to do it a little less but we worked with her husband for years in youth ministry and they need the money. She lost her regular full-time job a couple of years ago so she started cleaning houses and then last year her husband had some major medical issues and has been out of work since. They are surviving on disability and her work but they certainly don’t live extravagantly. If they had something come up and came to us for a loan or money, I would probably consider a small amount but that’s more b/c we’re friends with them, not because she’s ‘hired help’. However their daughter has done well and lives nearby so I suspect she and her husband would help them before they’d ask anyone outside their family.

motherjanegoose

December 7th, 2011
8:53 am

@ Techmom…that I could do!

Using the word "flotsam"

December 7th, 2011
8:54 am

@ Jarvis

Grande? Is this a shot at Hispanic Americans?

Regardless, the proper nomenclature is large……”My yard person hit me up for 2 large the other day because he was going to lose his house”

See how that works?

Consuelo

December 7th, 2011
8:56 am

No…..Mr Superman not here…..

We need more Pledge™……

mom2alex&max

December 7th, 2011
9:27 am

MJG: I sent an e-mail to Theresa for you. It has some info on my cleaning lady. She does an amazing job, is super reliable, and way less than $120 per visit. Hopefully Theresa will forward you the e-mail shortly.

LeeH1

December 7th, 2011
9:44 am

Actually, I would express my sorrow, but direct them to a local church. Religious organizations are very good at handling these sorts of requests, and can usually tell when one of them is a scam.

Also, this entangles the person requesting help in the community. Often after receiving the gift, they will feel obligated to attend the church and participate, and maybe even to contribute to help out other unfortunates. Even if they can’t contribute money, they can help in soup kitchens and other charities by donating time and work.

America is famous for helping others- but it is even more famous for letting those who receive some benefits to help other even less fortunate than them.

But I agree with some of the other posters. I would send these people a letter telling them that I was finished with their services. People who don’t understand a business relationship don’t understand business.

And I also suspect that they have no benefits for their employees except what they can scrounge from their contract customers.

oneofeach4me

December 7th, 2011
9:54 am

Honestly, I would have told them they are freakin crazy, and to not bother coming back to my home as they have just lost a customer. I would NOT feel comfortable allowing this person back into my home. If they will ask you for $500 without a thought, there is some sense of entitlement there which could also make them think they are entitled to the kids’ Wii also.

As to the yard person, how long have you known them and how do you know them? If they are relatively strangers, I would reiterate that I was sorry for their loss and decline on the donation. If it is someone that you know and have a relationship with I may help a little (like $20 or something), but I would be more focused on the fact that his wife was the one who asked for a donation. If your relationship is with him, and it was his mother, he should have been the one to ask anyway.

JOD

December 7th, 2011
9:56 am

Wow. How bizarre. No way I’d do it, and that business would lose a customer. It’s one thing to be in Gtmom’s shoes and want to help a close friend/family member, but to be pressured by someone you really don’t know is classless.

We have a very nice lady who cleans our house for $75 a month (main level only; she only comes once each month). MJG, I would give you her name, but I bet MOG is out of her area. I’ll be giving her a Christmas gift/bonus, but because I want to do it.

@homeschooler and LeeH1 – Very good points!

DB

December 7th, 2011
10:02 am

Sorry, that would be a deal-breaker for me, if a SERVICE that I had been using for only a few months hit me up for personal money. If it had been someone who had been with me for years, then I would consider it.

I’m suddenly remembering that scene out of “The Help”, where the maid asks for some help for their son’s college tuition. That didn’t go too well, did it?

A

December 7th, 2011
10:19 am

We don’t have a yard guy and only very occasionally use a cleaner, so I would be appalled if I were asked for money by anyone who does any kind of work/service around our house. It’s even more tacky in that first example that the *owner* of the cleaning service had the audacity to call her client for $500. I don’t care what is culturally accepted in other places, and obviously you’d treat a nanny or someone you consider family differently, but for someone you’ve hired for a specific task, it’s just wrong and I wouldn’t hesitate to say sorry but no.

Tammy

December 7th, 2011
10:23 am

We need more lemon pledge

jmb

December 7th, 2011
10:35 am

MJG – My cleaning lady charges $80 for 6 hours and she is awesome. And as far as loaning her money, we have before and she paid it back so no problem. Her family is having some hard times so when I have it, I don’t mind helping. I also have given her son furniture and $$ when her son was getting his own apartment. They appreciate any help they can get.

DTdad

December 7th, 2011
10:38 am

Also happens where I work. We have had guys from the shop ask the owner out of the blue for loans up to $1000.00. It started as them asking for a few bucks to get through the week, then they started asking for big money. I advised the owner against it, but he ended up getting burned. They would also ask for checks early, for vacation pay without taking vacation. It almost seemed some of the people thought they were entitled to these things.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

December 7th, 2011
10:38 am

A couple of thoughts:

I do believe that my yard man’s mom died. (Our yard is very small here but there are very high palm trees which I have no ability to cut so it’s worth it to pay him to deal with those trees.) He came on Sundays for several months instead of Saturdays because his mom was in the hospital. So I do believe him.

I wondered if it was a cultural thing.

I think a nanny who is raising your kids and has been with your family is different than a yard man or a housekeeper — depending on how long they have been with you. I think a nanny is an intimate. They are caring for your kids and are present for family interaction. I think a housekeeper — especially one who lived with you or who had been wit your family for a long time — also has a level of intimacy. I don’t think the yard guy gets as intimate with a family.

Augusta

December 7th, 2011
12:02 pm

I had Charter come to my house and install cable in my living room, where it wasn’t already installed. They had to run a line outside into the house. The technician was young and fairly nice, and I offered him a glass of water (it was July). I will also mention that he was hispanic.

After he was finished, he asked if he could use the bathroom. I had NO clue he would be in there for over 20 minutes (he even had the nerve to work a crossword puzzle hubby keeps in there). My cat was helping herself to his glass of water on my coffee table, lapping it up. I thought about shooing her away, but didn’t. When the guy came out of the bathroom (and let me tell you it STUNK in there)….he grabbed the glass of water my cat had been enjoying, and drank the entire thing. I didn’t say a word….I thought he had some nerve stinking up my bathroom.

You just don’t do that in a customer’s home. You go to a gas station or back to the shop….

JOD

December 7th, 2011
2:06 pm

@Augusta – ????! What the h3ll?

THEY GOT HIM! Maintenance worker who lives in the complex. 20 years old.

jarvis

December 7th, 2011
2:09 pm

@using, don’t be so sensitive. He was white and old. Just a type-o on the iPhone.
I thought about using “large”, but it seemed so douchey.

motherjanegoose

December 7th, 2011
2:40 pm

The painters I used last year were here for a few weeks. I showed them my fridge, in the garage, that we keep all soft drinks and cold water in. I told them they could help themselves to any drinks they wished. They also timidly asked if they could use the bathroom. I replied, ” of course!” I have air freshener in there and if they stink up the bathroom, oh well. Everyone who has lived at this house has stunk up a bathroom at one time or another. This is NO big deal to me and I do not want them to have to leave and use a bathroom somewhere else. I also have a plunger and toilet bowl cleaner/brush available. IT IS A BATHROOM for goodness sakes. If it gets messy, it can be cleaned! They were very appreciative and told me that many ladies would not let them use the bathroom. Some ladies sat on their couches and watched them paint the entire time. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

FYI…I just left the Red Cross Blood Donor Center and used their bathroom. I laughed when I read this sign, posted to be visible as you use the potty:

LOOK BEHIND YOU…DID YOU LEAVE SOMETHING…PLEASE FLUSH THE TOILET.

Are you kidding? You have to be at least 16 in order to donate blood. As I have mentioned here before, manners are missing when you must remind adults to flush the toilet. It is a crazy world out there!

I hope to hear from TWG about a housekeeper and thanks to everyone who has answered my question. Perhaps I can find someone to help around here!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

December 7th, 2011
3:27 pm

mJG — I will forward to you today — I have family visiting so I will grab as soon as I can and forward.

Fred

December 7th, 2011
8:09 pm

Motherjanegoose: If my wife payed ME 15 bucks an hour I would clean our house lol so I would certainly do yours. But only if you want it Military clean (spotless).

@missnadine: I like TWG’s columns, but I tend to agree with you (about a local person). But then I’ve always been about taking care of home first. The issues of Atlanta are quite different from those of phoenix as are the attitudes and demographics.

motherjanegoose

December 7th, 2011
8:16 pm

@ Fred…thanks for your input. I married a military man but somehow have never lived in a spotless house…what happened? My FIL was career military and their house was also not spotless. My family had no military members except my mother…a self appointed drill sergeant and our house was spotless or ELSE…you could now call it child abuse.

Gtmom

December 8th, 2011
7:00 am

We also had a guy helping my husband work on the house’s basement and foundation. My hubby paid him by the hour. This guy worked out in the heatthis past summer laying foundation for 10 hours and not once did he use our bathroom! My hubby kept offering but he politly replied no, he didn’t have to go. I can’t promise he didn’t go behind a bush in the yard but he certaintly could have come in the house! I just felt bad for the guy.. so worried about coming in our house.

Cat Mom

December 8th, 2011
1:33 pm

Wow. I’m not an ATM machine. I would be really offended if a non-family member up and asked me for money. And, honestly, the cynic in me says these are probably scams anyway timed to play on the spirit of giving and goodwill at Christmas.

Cat Mom

December 8th, 2011
1:34 pm

Blech. Meant to say just “ATM” and not “ATM machine.” Dating myself…

catlady

December 8th, 2011
2:37 pm

Cat Mom: Do you use Magic Markers? My students look at me like I am crazy when I say that, but I just can’t seem to help myself.

catlady

December 8th, 2011
2:37 pm

Cat Mom: Help stamp out and eliminate redundancy!

Kat

December 8th, 2011
3:56 pm

Do both states (ours and TWG’s) have moms? Check. Do both states have kids? Check. Where is the problem? Just because TWG doesn’t jump on an absolutely tragic story. And, if she did, you would probably complain that she was exploiting the topic for the sake of a column. I would always reply with a snippy comment to the trolls on here, which is why TWG is so much better at this than I ever would be.

Cat Mom

December 8th, 2011
4:53 pm

catlady: I do indeed say Magic Marker!

motherjanegoose

December 8th, 2011
5:24 pm

cat friends…I get the eyeroll from my daughter when I say magic markers too!

catlady

December 8th, 2011
5:31 pm

One of my third graders took me aside and told me, confidentially, “Dr. Catlady, you know they are not REALLY magic, don’t you?”