The Queen of Cleaning just made a big mess with this deal

Pat Bowes uses Angie’s List to purchase eight hours of housekeeping from the Queen of Cleaning. But her housekeeper marks the not-yet-used deal “used” without doing any work for Bowes. Can our advocates clean up this messy situation and secure a refund for Bowes?

Question

Last July, I purchased a deal for eight hours of cleaning work by a company called Queen of Cleaning on Angie’s List. The deal was valid through Jan. 23. In December, I received notice that the owner of Queen of Cleaning had marked the deal “used.” I had not used the deal up to that point, but it had not expired.

At that time, I tried to get in touch with the owner, who scheduled the work for the following week. But she did not show up on the date for which we had scheduled the housekeeping. I tried calling her, but she would not return my calls.

Then I asked for a refund. Angie’s List refused to refund my payment because more than 30 days had passed since I purchased the deal.

I submitted a highly negative review of Queen of Cleaning to Angie’s List. Then I asked that its customer service contact me and refund my payment. Angie’s List’s agent replied that it pays the providers on a schedule, regardless of when they confirm that they’ve done the work. She also told me that “[if] we are not contacted within the initial 30 days [for a refund], the options become quite a bit more limited.”

I told the agent that I would complain to the California Department of Consumer Affairs and to a local consumer advocacy television show called Seven On Your Side. Angie’s List stopped answering my emails.

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Can you get Angie’s List to refund my payment for this deal? — Pat Bowes, Orinda, Calif.

Answer

I’m sorry you didn’t get the cleaning service for which you paid. Unfortunately, your attempts to self-advocate your case left you with an even bigger mess than you already had.

As our advocate Michelle Couch-Friedman notes, you got off on the wrong foot with Angie’s List with the negative tone of your communications.

Your best course of action was to observe the three P’s of consumer advocacy — patience, persistence and politeness — while trying to resolve your problem. Instead, you left a hostile review and threatened to file complaints, which we don’t advise. These actions weren’t likely to motivate Angie’s List to help you.

That wasn’t the only problem with your case. Michelle asked you for documentation of the attempts you made to contact the owner of Queen of Cleaning. This is important because it establishes the steps you took to self-advocate your issue. Unfortunately, your paper trail didn’t support your claim that you tried to contact Queen of Cleaning’s owner before you demanded a refund from Angie’s List.

Why didn’t the Queen of Cleaning show up?

But your paper trail did contain an email address for the owner of the Queen of Cleaning. Michelle emailed her and an executive contact at Angie’s List to ask for clarification of what happened.

The owner of the Queen of Cleaning never bothered to respond to Michelle’s email. But Angie’s List quickly answered. After taking another look at your case, the company offered you a refund.

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The takeaways from your case are that the three P’s are always your best bet for sorting out and cleaning up customer service messes. Give the company and any third parties, such as Angie’s List, a chance to sort through the situation. Don’t add to the disorder with accusations and threats of reporting the company to consumer agencies or negative publicity. Otherwise, both the company and our advocates may give your case a clean sweep into the dustbin.

Have you ever purchased a deal through Angie’s List or another third party for services that you didn’t receive? Were you able to successfully self-advocate for a refund or other satisfactory resolution?

Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Elliott.org. Read more of Jennifer's articles here.

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