Saturday, March 29, 2008

Want Some Candy, Little Girl?

Thats exactly how I feel at this moment... hiding out in Dawson's room as he naps with my laptop and as many other valuables I managed to grab without looking too obvious in an attempt to hide from scary Hungarian rapist carpet cleaning man.

It all started last week when I answered the phone to a 'blocked number' and it was an automated telemarketing message about carpet steam cleaning. I wouldn't generally consider myself a 'sucker,' but I love a bargain as much as the next young mom. It was something I'd been wanting to do for months, and had even called around to price because I wanted to also have the upholstery on the living room furniture cleaned at the same time. I even had an appointment set with a company we've used before awhile back, and they never showed up... so this was long overdue anyway.

Some of the more reputable places I had called around for quotes on had estimated over $300 for just 2 rooms and 2 couches. Maybe that should have been my first, second, or third clue... when this place promised to do the whole enchilada for $150. "Sweet! Half the price!," thinks the trusting little baby Christian school girl. "I know... perfect day for this is the Saturday Tyson won't be home!" (I know... I want to slap me too).

We set the appointment for today, I ask for early morning and she says they have 10am-12pm slot open. Perfect, just enough time to wake up, get the kids together, pay the people, and leave them to do their work whilst we plan something fun to get out of their way. Well. 10am rolls around, we are all packed and ready for our outing. Waiting... waiting... 10:30am. 11:30am. At 11:50, I called the toll free number to find out if I've been duped again and while Im on the line with the company I get another call... its 12:07, and its the lost carpet cleaning man trying to ask me in broken English for directions.

Finally by 12:30 a beat up sedan pulls in front of the house... hmmm. Not the commercial van with a company logo I am expecting, but for the love, I want my carpet clean. Mr. Broken English turns out to be a relatively good looking, BIG European man (I'm guessing maybe Hungarian?) in his late 20's- early 30's. He comes right in, greets my children (creepy), and I explain that I was told on the phone $150 for 2 couches, the living room, hallway, and one bedroom. The kid's bedrooms were light traffic areas and wouldn't be necessary, so I had closed all the back bedroom doors. I also let him know the kids would be napping after lunch, so I would appreciate if he started at the back of the house by their bedrooms (which made the most sense anyways). He agreed, and set off down the hall. I finished our lunch routine, and walked back to lay Anabelle down... oh, whats this? Mr. Europe is in her bedroom? Closet opened? Blinds pulled up? I politely reminded him the children's rooms weren't in need, and he smiled and shook his head as if he understood. Ok... so why are you in here again, creep-o? Then I noticed the blinds in Dawson's room were also pulled up and the door was open. He had been in there too.

I went back to the kitchen for Dawson, wiped his hands, took him potty... every time we passed in the hall Creep-o would make friendly with the little man. I don't like it. About that time, I was informed that he would be needing to use my bathtub, as he wheels in an industrial push vacuum much like the rentals I had checked out renting myself at the local grocery store. Whatever, "help yourself," I told him.... I knew this guy was not going to be legit by now and wasn't really surprised.

I heard a knock at the front door and thanked the heavens for a familiar face checking in... it was our next door neighbor, Brent, wondering if he could use the lawnmower. I walk outside with him, thankful for the excuse to get out of the way. We chatted for a couple minutes, and I look up as Europe clears his throat loudly and waves me back in the house. Um, ok... "Yes?"

He has drawn me out a whole diagram and wants to pitch a sale to me. I gave him the courtesy of a listening ear, but I'm aggrevated that he's 2 hours late, he just spent 30 minutes rummaging through rooms I asked him to exclude, and now he's telling me about bacteria infesting my 2 year old carpet that needs a special sanitizing wash. "Alright, how much?"

"Whole house... $768."

I laugh.

"Uh... thats WAYYY outside my carpet budget... I signed on for the $150 special, and I only need 2 rooms plus the sofas, thank you."

Then he got pushy. Really pushy. Told me I could get my whole family sick, and he likes me. He's just trying to help me. My children are so cute, he would hate to see them sick. My husband could get really sick too, no?"

He offered to knock it down $100 on the spot.

"Uh... according to my math thats still more than $600... WAY over my budget."

I told him again about the rates I was quoted by phone, and said if there were some heavily soiled areas that he had a solution he would like to spot treat I could pay up to $200, so just give me what I can get for that much." He throws up his hands and storms out, "OK, fine. Im just looking out for your family."

I decided to disappear, and took the opportunity to lay down with Dawson (hence my hiding spot at the beginning of the posting)... I offered to pay him in advance in case he finished before I came out (aka: hurry up and leave). He insisted I pay after. Fine.

I started this posting while he was still here... and was interrupted by a knock on the CLOSED bedroom door. He's all finished, Dawson is snoozing away, I follow him out to the living room... my couches (the primary reason for this cleaning) are NOT done. I commented. He says those cost extra.

Now I'm angry. I firmly repeated my arrangement with his company. He again rudely agrees to complete the task (oh, thank you SOOO much for the HUGE favor). Thats when I insisted on writing the check, because I didn't want him asking for double because of the sofas AFTER he did them, claiming I had somehow agreed to that.

I ask him who to make the check out to... he asks who my bank is. I'm FREAKING out, here. He tells me to make it out to CASH. Shocking. I ask why, knowing he is going to hit me over the head and drag me into a closet at any moment... he says he is a contract laborer for the company and he has to pay them after keeping his share. I wrote the check, and asked for a receipt before handing it to him, which he gives me. I ask him where the company is based out of, he vaguely answers "L.A." I asked him if he was from there also... he says he is (predictable). I commented on the long drive for just one customer, and asked if he had other appointments in the area after me. He hesitates and answers 'yes,' but I know he is lying. No wonder he wants $700... gas isn't cheap these days!

I retreated back to Dawson's room. Its now 2:30pm. So much for getting out of the house with the kids. I couldn't have been more relieved to see him load his rented industrial cleaner back into the car... I was thankful it wasn't my lifeless body he was shoving into his trunk. I really was... scared!

Anyways. I have clean carpets! The couch came out decent, which is the most I'd hoped for. $200 was more than I planned to pay and Im still not sure what the extra $50 was for, but I guess its a small price to pay for, oh, I don't know, being able to chew solids and watch my kids grow up.

I guess it just reaffirms the old antic of "Cost vs. Value.

Next time, I will definitely be paying a little more for a 2 man team wearing matching company t-shirts.


Jillian said...

Oh that is too...freaky! I saw your house this morning and it looks awesome...didn't check out the couches though, I'll have to do that this afternoon...

Steph said...

oh beth I'm so sorry. You were so excited!!! at least the carpets came out clean, and you came out alive and in one piece...