My first "professional" house cleaning appointment

Back in 2006, I was a couple years into my career as a web communications consultant with Edmonton Public Schools. I was both busy and a terrible housekeeper. I had reached that point where I knew it was more cost-effective for me to outsource all the jobs I wasn't great at: painting, lawn mowing, and certainly cleaning!

Being young and inexperienced, I turned to Kijiji, hoping to find a cheap independent house cleaner. I picked one who sounded pretty good, and booked her in. How exciting! I was going to have my house "professionally" cleaned and it was only going to cost me $20/hour! She told me a house of my size (1100 square feet + partial basement) would take her 8 hours to clean. I didn't question her, as I certainly wasn't an expert, and made myself scarce.

Two things right away concerned me: she was a smoker and she was using the usual bleach and ammonia-based cleaning products. Ordinarily I wouldn't have been freaking out, but this woman was 7 months pregnant! The fumes! The nicotine! That poor baby.

She cleaned, slowly, taking smoke breaks and stubbing the cigarettes out on my front steps. At the end of the day, I paid her the $160 I owed her, plus tip, for a total of $200. The cleaning, in retrospect, was very average. My house reeked of chemicals and the entire event, which was supposed to bring zen to my home life, ended up stressing me out considerably.

Should I have said something to her about the products or the smoking? Sure, maybe. But I was nice enough (like most people)  and similar in age and I would have been even more stressed out having to bring up these concerns. My house would have taken the experts at the Green Clean Squad no more than 1.5 hours for a deluxe cleaning, at the cost of $190 + GST. The quality of the cleaning would have been substantially better, I would have had a fresh-smelling home with non-toxic products, and if I had any concerns at all, I could have simply emailed or called the office staff, who can tactfully handle any issues and would have ensured I was 100% satisfied.

But that experience wasn't even the worst one I had... fast forward to 2011.