Mary* hired Tidy, a cleaning service papering the nation with its flyers, after seeing one of the company’s direct mail pieces in her mailbox.
“I paid for a clean that should have been 1,000 square feet clean,” she said. “Their maid did not even make it through my living room.”
“The maid was on the phone the whole time and when I asked her to do the cleaning I was promised she called me a pig and walked out, without cleaning 1/5 of my home.”
Mary said there was no real or easy way to complain, either.
According to the company’s website, the premise is similar to Uber or Lyft. Customers hop online or on their smart phone, set up a cleaning on the website or app, provide a credit card number, and wait for your “Homekeeper” to show up.
There are levels of service, too, ranging from a minimal one hour clean — the Tidy, all the way up to a full cleaning for four hours with two “Homekeepers” — the Mighty.
According to the company’s website, they do a federal and county background check, as well as a check on the national sex offender list and other similar lists.
Mary, who took to Facebook to relate her story, found that several other people had similar stories. Some said that when they couldn’t get satisfaction with Tidy, they contested the charge with their credit card company, and were able to get their money back.
More troubling, though, were the instances of theft or robbery. At least two other people related instances.
So CandysDirt.com began to look closer at Tidy. Was this a case of a couple of bad subcontractors, or are there systemic issues with the company?
Tanya told us a similar story to Mary’s. “I used Tidy once — terrible,” she said. “You agree on what you want cleaned beforehand.”
“They did about half of what I asked for — I wanted bathrooms cleaned and floors mopped. I got 1/4 of bathrooms cleaned, floor mopped downstairs, and kitchen cleaned, but she did several things I did not ask for,” she said. “The lady moved like a snail, was on the phone, and didn’t even go upstairs.”
We also checked local social media sources and found several discussions about Tidy.
In a post on Facebook on June 30, someone said their Tidy cleaner never showed, but they still got charged to the tune of $245.
“There is no direct phone number to call them until they call you,” the person wrote. “After round and round, they said they would ‘credit’ to my next cleaning. I told them that was NOT happening and had to dispute with my bank to get money back.”
In February 2016, another Facebook user asked about Tidy. One person responded, “Worst cleaning service ever. I did the Mighty Tidy and two people were supposed to show and only one did.”
“When I asked for part of my money back the customer service was terrible and hard to work with.”
She was charged another $300 later, she said.
We began to find a common refrain.
“My first time using a cleaning service and I won’t be using one ever again. I Paid $50 for an hour of cleaning, all I asked for was the dishes to be done and put away and floors swept and mopped and living room floors mopped and bathroom to be cleaned up,” wrote Yelp user Shannon P. “As soon as the hour was up she packed up and left the job unfinished. I tipped her $20 and started cleaning my house. Pretty disappointing.”
“So two cleaners were supposed to come and do a four hour ‘deep clean’ for $220.” said Rachel K. “Instead one woman showed up and basically smeared all the existing dirt around.”
“Tidy promised a partial refund, which never came through.”
“I’ve tried to give TIDY multiple second chances, but the straw has broken the camel’s back,” said Emily A., who said her home was not completely cleaned as promised, and she had to fight for a refund.
“I had the same experience as others … housekeeper was here for not even the whole 2.5 hours and barely cleaned 30 percent of my home,” said Bernadette F, who said she was offered a $90 credit on her next cleaning.
Rebecca L. said she used the service once, and then the company began regularly charging her credit card, despite the fact that she canceled service.
“I went all out with the Mighty Tidy, two housekeepers for four hours,” wrote Jennifer A. “One showed up on time and did a good job with the upstairs of my home. The other showed up late, left early, did not speak English and brought her eighth-grade son with her.”
She added that the second woman apparently did not clean the downstairs portion of the home, leaving it dirty and dusty. Jennifer said she emailed the concierge at Tidy and was eventually offered a $90 credit toward her $440 cleaning.
“I wanted a REFUND of half ($220), since only half my house was cleaned and not a credit as I will never use their service again,” she said. “They have never replied further.”
There are 532 reviews for the Costa Mesa, Calif.,-based company, from all over the country. And nearly all of them are similar. There are indeed some good reviews, but the bulk of those reviews are from 2015.
Consumer complaint site PissedConsumer.com had further complaints, all with the same common refrain. There are 40 complaints, and some mention unauthorized credit card charges, and “that they did not do what they said they would do.”
The Better Business Bureau showed eight reviews — all negative — and 12 complaints, 11 of which were closed in the last year.
With all of these complaints, we asked the company to comment.
“As a platform for booking independent home cleaners, we are committed first and foremost to trust and safety issues for everyone using us,” replied Jessica, who did not supply a last name. “While Homekeepers are independent contractors on the platform, like Ebay, Amazon, AirBnB, we care a lot about the quality of Homekeepers on the marketplace.”
“Theft is a horrible issue, and we wish it did not occur,” she continued. “We do conduct rigorous background checks, but lack of past issues does not guarantee there will not be an issue.”
“Theft issues are extremely rare, but in the event they do occur we’ve found the best group to weigh these concerns is the police, so we let them take point on everything related to data collection, and supply them with everything we know about the situation.”
Jessica added that the company only works with the police on these matters, and when an issue is reported regarding a Homekeeper, “we conduct a serious internal investigation.”
“In our internal investigation, we try to respect client’s and Homekeepers privacy, relative due process, and a foremost commitment to safety,” she continued. “We err strongly on the side of safety.”
“While most theft concerns ultimately end up as misunderstandings, once we get even mild evidence of theft, we immediately deactivate them off the platform,” Jessica added.
The company says its policy of not covering theft is in line with other similar platforms that help find house cleaners — she mentioned Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, and Care.com. She also said the incidents of outright theft are rare—- about 1 in 10,000 cleanings.
“However, if a client has rental or similar insurance, they will most likely cover the property, and we recommend making a claim to them quickly,” she said. “We are happy to provide the insurance company with any information necessary and helpful to process the claim.”
The company did not provide information on how they remediate complaints, nor did they address the sheer volume of complaints regarding poor service.
If Tidy is getting a bad rap (and it is entirely possible that if its representatives are throwing around ratios like 1 and 10,000 cleanings, there are a lot more satisfied customers than dissatisfied customers out there), it may be that like Uber and the like, the ease of scheduling something at will with an app also means ceding a great deal of your company identity to subcontractors.
How do you protect yourself from shady housecleaners? According to experts, whether you hire an independent house cleaner or one from a company, you should make sure they’re insured and bonded. You should also ask for references (at least three to four), and consider a background check. And if you hire an independent cleaner, try to find one who has been cleaning for at least six consecutive months or more.
Ask for a walk-through first so there are no surprises for you, or the person cleaning your home. And make sure you have renters or homeowners insurance, just in case.
*Some names have been changed for our sources’ safety.