Ms Maia Kayleigh says she is one who believes in giving praise to anyone who puts in effort in his work as she believes in motivating such people. "I don't like to write and throw brickbats .. I just don't feel good putting someone down," she explains.
"However, I need to write in this time and let others know of my experiences. Like most residents in Singapore who are busy, I don't have much time to do housework. So here is my story ...
"I had a nasty & disappointing experience with Flexi-Home Services which I found on the internet while surfing for agencies that provide part-time maids.
"Its website at http://www.flexihomeservices.com/ had the usual promises of 'satisfied customers', 'good service' etc. It had reasonable prices compared to better known maid agencies which charged more, so throwing caution and sense to the wind I then called up the number and spoke to a person called Rachel.
"Giving her my requirements of cleaning services etc, she then tried to match me with a maid. She then told me she had found me a 'new' maid.
"When I asked what was the feedback on this maid from previous clients, she could not provide me with any feedback as this maid had just joined her agency from an advertisement put in the papers by the same agency recruiting part-timers.
"I then asked what was the procedure if the assigned maid was not suitable. Rachel informed me that if I terminated the maid, I will need to pay a replacement fee to the agency but if the maid left of her own accord, I will get another replacement maid free, especially as this maid was new and had just joined the agency.
"The maid came on her first assignment with me and I paid her $45 for the 4 hours she worked for me, as well as the agency fee of $40. She was supposed to come with a supervisor who never turned up.
"The gist of this tale is not that the maid was bad or lousy as is the usual maid story. On the contrary, she was very good and I liked her working style and she was hardworking.
"However, she came only a few times before she said she couldn't come anymore because she had a full-time job, and her full-time work commitments got heavier because a fellow colleague was sick and she had to take over her colleague's responsibilities.
"She informed me that each time she came to my place for 4 hours, $5 was deducted from her pay of $45 to pay to the agency.
"When I tried to contact Flexi-Home Services again after the maid left, it was a nightmare from then on. My calls to its hotline number went unanswered and reached a voicemail every single time; messages left on its voicemail were ignored and not returned. I gave up after leaving 4-5 messages, and because of travel & work, I left the issue for a while before trying again.
"This time, I emailed the company and again it was Rachel who replied to my emails. She denied receiving any messages or voicemails from me - I didn't want to argue over a trivial matter so I left it at that.
"In my email, I told her that the maid assigned to me had left after only a few sessions and I wanted another maid to take her place. I explained very clearly that I wanted the maid to continue with me, but she couldn't.
"Rachel couldn't trace who I was, or the name of the maid who was assigned to me even when I gave her my handphone number and home address - she didn't seem to keep any records at all!
"Rachel emailed back and asked for a new replacement fee, despite the fact that it was the maid who left of her own accord and not I who terminated her services. When I reminded her what she told me, the whole thing spiralled downwards into a nightmare of nasty sarcastic emails from Rachel.
"She sneered at my questions about the replacement fee, and asked why I was making a fuss over a small amount which wasn't the issue at all. However she didn't get the point and became more insulting with each email.
"As she got more sarcastic, she gave up all attempts to use proper English and lapsed into broken ungrammatical Singlish in her emails. Just check their website and see what I mean about their Singlish description of their services and you will get what I mean.
"Eventually I just emailed her to call me back and talk about it, as she wasn't picking up the phone. She shot back a reply that she didn't want to talk to me because she wasn't sure what my 'motives' were, and to stop emailing her and 'don't disturb' her anymore. I was so fed up at this point that I just gave up.
"Flexi-Home Services seemed to be a one or two-man show run mainly or only by Rachel. I am wondering which Government authority oversees the various agencies that match homes with part-time maids.
"They collect a fee from the houseowner each time the maid comes, over and above the one-time agency fee that they charge. Multiply this by many households who use their services and their income is not a small amount.
"My understanding is that they 'match' house owners with part-timers who call their number, pretty much as how a tuition agency operates. They don't really screen the part-timers who call them, and their match-making motto is to team up the maid who lives nearest the house owner's homes.
According to their website, they are registered with ACRA ( which is easy to do) and not a Maids Agency or an Employment Agency. Does this mean that they do not fall under the MOM guidelines? "