Cheating You By The Hour

, , , , , , , | Legal | August 25, 2018

We had a cleaning lady who came by every week. Things started off rocky when, after her first visit, she left a note asking if we could “tidy up” more before she came and maybe vacuum, as well. We were like, “Excuse us? That’s what you are for.”

So, we let it slide, and for a few months things went well. We would leave the money on the counter, she would come in while we were at work — we gave her a key when we hired her — and she would clean, take the money, and leave.

But after a few months, my husband lost his job. Because it was only temporary, we decided to keep on the cleaner rather than fire her and rehire once he had a new job. During that period, whenever the cleaner came over my husband would go out swimming or something until she had finished.

One day, however, circumstances were such that he came home after only two hours. Lo and behold, the cleaner had left, taking the full four hours’ worth of money with her!

The next week, my husband returned early again, planning to claim he “forgot something,” and after only an hour and a half she was gone already. We called her asking for an explanation. She claimed she had to “pick up her child from work” and that “she didn’t take any breaks so she finished early.”

Now, you can take as many breaks as you want, but if you are being paid for four hours of work, that doesn’t mean you get to skip off after two hours and leave stuff unfinished.

After a few more repeats of this, we decided to fire her. I told my husband to wait until the next time she came over, hand her the money for that day, request our key back, and tell her not to come back.

Sadly, he’s a bit spineless and prefers to avoid confrontation, so he fired her over social media and asked her to bring by the key.

Two weeks went by and there was no word from the cleaner and no key. We started to get somewhat worried, as we live in an apartment building, and that key opens the main entrance and the shared garage. As such, if one of the keys is unaccounted for, all the locks in the building have to be replaced, costing upwards of 10,000 euros.

Since we willingly gave the key away, our insurance wouldn’t cover it and we were liable. In a last-ditch attempt, we call our legal insurance — basically insurance that supplies a lawyer when you need one.

We explained the situation, and they told us that technically this didn’t fall under our coverage, but they were having a quiet day, so they’d give the cleaner a call.

That evening the cleaner called us, panicking because a lawyer claiming to represent us had left her a voicemail claiming to investigate a lost key. She then claimed that she mailed our house key, by post, and it must have gotten lost in the mail. She promised that she would call the mail company in the morning to ask them to investigate.

We were livid at this point, as truly nobody could be so stupid or careless as to mail a key to the house it unlocks. Two days later, she called and claimed that the post office had miraculously found our key and mailed it back to her. If there was the tiniest chance she was telling the truth, that spoiled it right there; no way in hell the post office is that fast or efficient.

She asked if she could come by that evening to drop it off and insisted we take a picture of her handing it over as proof.

And that is how our lawyer saved us 10,000 euros and helped us catch a crooked cleaner in the act.

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