The company kept the place clean but played dirty on the business side
My mum had a cleaner. A very good one, called Norman. Unfortunately at the beginning of lockdown he decided to stop. He has since taken the decision to cease all his cleaning work, which was frustrating and sad but it was his choice, of course. He came through an agency called Time for You that charged a quarterly standing charge for providing him.
As a present to my mum, my brother and I also paid for additional days of cleaning through the same agency.
All was well. Tracy at Time for You was really lovely and even offered to go round and see my mum when it was allowed (but never did). As a freelancer myself I felt the pain of a small business and offered to continue the standing order payments until a replacement for Norman could be found and we could work out refunds further down the line and I hoped that this would help to tide them over.
However, as the months went by it became apparent that they would not be able to replace Norman with somebody suitable. This was a shame. However, at no point did I ever say she could keep the standing order money that was paid for a service that we were not receiving! My mum found another cleaner she could pay directly but we did say if it didn’t work out or the new cleaner had to give up we would hope to come back to Time for You.
After five months and seeing that Time for You was clearly back up at full capacity, I asked for the refunds. She offered to pay for the last standing order for each of us. This did not include the previous standing orders for services we did not receive to which we were obviously legally entitled! Back in March I made it clear that I was happy to be patient and wait. I did not say she could keep our money! I can be kind but not that kind! I detailed exactly how much she owed us, why and how.
“Dear Helen” and “best wishes Tracy” changed to “Hi” and “From Time for You”. Attitudes had clearly changed. I was asked what I wanted paid and to give the details of the account. She asked what I wanted paying into what accounts, so I told her again what should be paid and to whom. And I wanted it paid by the end of the week. She emailed back to say the payments would be made in the bank run in a few weeks’ time. Obviously, companies do have bank roll dates but clearly a refund should not to have to wait for this date and she didn’t even give me the date!
I emailed her back again and said that this was not acceptable, that I believed five months was long enough and that the payment should be made by the end of the week. I still did not get a reply but finally the payment was made last thing on the Friday.
This is a classic example of how not to do business. As a customer I had acknowledged the difficulties being experienced by the company and had not yet demanded the refund to which I was entitled. I had not stopped the standing orders, in the hope that we could continue and also to help her business. This kind of loyalty should be rewarded. Instead I was showed rudeness and disrespect. It was very shortsighted because we had made it clear if we needed to go back to another cleaner then we would come to her first. We would also have continued to recommend them. However, her unnecessarily unhelpful attitude was surprising, particularly given that she knows what I do for a living! She was hardly going to get away with not refunding us!
In an attempt to try and keep approximately a hundred quid she has lost goodwill and tarnished her company’s previously good name!
In the current climate it is more important than ever before to treat your customers with respect, to listen to them and to respond promptly to their requests. If money is owed as a refund then give it back promptly, without any unnecessary procrastination.
And yes, airlines and travel companies, that means you too!