I like having a clean apartment, but I also don’t have a lot of time to clean it. For a while, I’ve been meaning to try Homejoy, and I finally got around to it last week.
Booking an appointment was easy. It’s cashless, it’s via a website, and I’m good at the Internet. The availability was somewhat limited, and I didn’t want to put it off for too long, so I ended up booking a 7 AM appointment on a weekday. That allowed me to be around to let the cleaner in without disrupting my work schedule while also leaving the apartment and my schedule all to myself during the weekend. Of course, 7 AM is quite a challenge for me, but I tend not to think of that too much when planning something for Future Wysz.
Before the appointment, I removed any clutter so that everything would be where I like it, and the cleaner could spend her time cleaning and not moving stuff around. I also took down and put away my Dropcam. I figured that if I left it out, I’d want to tell the cleaner about it, and I decided that it was just easier to remove it than to have that conversation while still acclimating to consciousness.
At 7:03, I got a text from the cleaner, Maria, letting me know that she was going to be about 20 minutes late and asking if I could wait. I guess that 7 AM isn’t just early for me. At 7:20, she arrived. She was very honest about it; she had received a new phone from Homejoy and hadn’t set the alarm on it. I of course didn’t mind at all; I was not in a rush to be anywhere. She was super nice, professional, and ready to go right away, only asking me where to take the trash to. I was glad that she didn’t ask any hard questions, and my only notes to her were a reminder not to wash my cast iron skillet (though she already knew that from a note I left when booking) and that there was bottled water in the refrigerator.*
Since my apartment is a small space, I thought it would be awkward to stick around. My first plan was to sit on the patio area outside of my apartment and work within range of my own WiFi. I abandoned that quickly when I found out that all of the cushions were wet. My next stop was a Starbucks. I would be one of those people who worked from a coffee shop! New experience! When I arrived, there was a long empty table as well as a small two-person table. I initially wanted to go for the small table, but because of the way it was oriented, I would be facing people no matter which side I sat on, and I thought that would be awkward. So, I picked a spot at one end of the long empty table, with a wall on one side of me. I thought I would be safe, but shortly after I settled in, I realized that airport rules apply in coffee shops as well: If you spot Wysz, you must sit unnecessarily close to him no matter how many empty seats are available. Someone sat directly across from me. He started to pull out a laptop or tablet or something (maybe a Surface?) so I realized that his stay wasn’t going to be brief. I looked behind me, and the small table that I had passed on earlier had become occupied. I avoided eye contact and just focused on my laptop screen. I continued to work and enjoy my bagel and coffee. The stranger’s wife arrived later and sat next to him. Fortunately they were both busy reading and didn’t talk much. Unfortunately, he sipped his coffee too loudly for my liking someone else was talking loudly on the phone. I guess I’m not really fit for the coffee crowd. All I kept wondering was “Who are you people and don’t you have anywhere that you need to be?!”
When it was time for a break, I decided to go for a change of scenery and headed to one of the indoor common areas in my apartment complex. As it was a weekday morning, I had the place to myself. It was great.
Maria texted me when she was finished, and asked me if I was satisfied with how everything looked. I was happy, and she was on her way. Everything was arranged neatly on my counters, the shower was the cleanest that it’s ever been since I moved in, and a couple of days later I realized that she might have even set my oven clock!
Room for improvement
Before my first appointment, I received an email newsletter from Homejoy. A weekly newsletter. I did not recall signing up for a newsletter. I would not have intentionally signed up for a newsletter, and remember, I’m good at the Internet. This practice really bugs me. I don’t even opt for email receipts at brick-and-mortar retailers anymore because these days a single purchase is taken as permission to “engage” with me forever. It’s disappointing to see a forward-looking startup use such a non-consumer-focused marketing tactic.
I unsubscribed, but that didn’t stop the email annoyances. I rated my cleaner immediately after the appointment, and 10 hours later I got an email asking me to provide feedback by answering two questions. Weird. I thought maybe it was something other than the rating. I clicked on the link and was just taken to a page containing information about my appointment. There were no questions regarding my appointment.
The next day, I got yet another email asking me to leave a Yelp review. This one didn’t even have an unsubscribe option, but I emailed customer service and they said they unsubscribed me. What annoyed me the most about this email was that it asks for a Yelp review of Homejoy, but it’s written in a way that makes you think you’re helping the cleaner. Since cleaners are assigned by Homejoy and not chosen by the customer as far as I can tell, unless the cleaner is doing business outside of Homejoy, mentioning them by name in a Yelp review isn’t going to do much for that individual, and I don’t even know if Maria (whose last name I am intentionally omitting from this review) would want me to identify her online.
Update on December 22nd, 2014: Today I received an SMS reminding me that I hadn’t scheduled an appointment in a while. I personally don’t like SMS to be used for this purpose. It feels really spammy to me, and I’ve asked to be removed from their promotional SMSs. Some people like it.
Aside from the annoying marketing, the other suggestion I’d like to make to Homejoy is that they move to a tip-free model. To be clear, I do tip when it’s customary, but that doesn’t mean that I like it. I’d rather they just raise the prices and wages appropriately. The site suggested 20% for a good job, so that’s what I did, right when I booked, before I even knew who was going to be doing the work. I’ll explain my position on tipping more in a later post.
I’ll likely use Homejoy again soon, once I decide what recurring appointment time will be best for me.
* It’s totally not relevant to this post, but I feel like I need to point out that I don’t generally buy bottled water. I think it was free from a hotel.