The CNY Cleanup Price Hike Is On – Household Cleaning Services Prices with Multiple Surcharges and in Different Scopes

15 January 2018
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The CNY Cleanup Price Hike Is On – Household Cleaning Services Prices  with Multiple Surcharges and in Different Scopes

The Consumer Council reserves all its right (including copyright) in respect of CHOICE magazine and Online CHOICE.

Chinese New Year is approaching and it's time again to give the home the big yearend cleanup, with many turning to the service of household cleaning company. In a survey, on the charges and scope of service of 10 companies offering such services, the Consumer Council has found the hourly rate of one-off service to vary considerably by as much as 1.5 times. Further, in the eve of the CNY, 8 companies were set for a price hike to nearly double in the most extreme. In fact individual companies have already begun to charge higher prices as early as mid-December last year. Despite increased prices, the scope of CNY cleaning service would remain very similar to the normal one. In the pipeline was also a variety of surcharges; and “remote areas” could mean differently from one operator to another. Consumers should, therefore, choose with care to keep within budget. 

The Council also found the operators differ vastly in their scope of service.  Some categorically excluded such routine household chores as cleaning the wash basins or moldy tiles, or relatively risky tasks including cleaning the windows, crystal chandeliers and ceilings. Different from services of a domestic helper, some exclusions covered taking care of pets, cooking or dish washing as well as car washing. Some allowed the cleaners to decline any work that they deem to be unsafe. Apart from careful price comparison, consumers should pay attention to the scope of service in detail, ensuring that their choice of the company can provide the service they need.

In the survey, the Council sent to 48 household cleaning companies a questionnaire for data collection. The survey compared them for their charges, cleaning services and arrangements in the course of their normal operation and during the period around CNY. However, only 10 responded accordingly.

Household cleaning companies offer consumers the choice of either one-off service or packaged service. All companies provide one-off service of mostly at least 3 hours; and depending on the actual consumer needs, some would assign more than one cleaner to do the job. Charges would vary according to the requirements with hourly rate ranging from $80 to $200, a difference of 150%. 6 of the companies surveyed also offered packaged service with validity period from 4 weeks to 180 days, at a relatively lower hourly rate than one-off service.

It is always the peak season for household cleaning companies before CNY every year. Consumers should beware of the vast variation in the date these operators commence to offer CNY service. Some could be as early as 1 November on the lunar calendar (18 December 2017) while some as nearer the CNY as 27 December on the lunar calendar (12 February 2018). In most cases, nearly half of the companies commenced from 1 December on the lunar calendar (17 January 2018). 

Of the 10 companies surveyed, 8 indicated they would increase prices for CNY service, some would impose a surcharge over the original price while some would offer special CNY service packages, for instance, at $1,500 and above for 5 hours. Some would add $20 to each service order while some would raise the hourly rate, for instance, from the normal $80 to $155, a jump of 93.8%. 

Despite increased prices in CNY service, only 1 company expanded the scope of cleaning service correspondingly, while 1 which also provided more thorough cleaning would adjust the price based on customers’ cleaning needs; the rest would remain the same as the normal cleaning items. 

Most companies would suspend the provision of packaged service over the CNY festive period. But since companies differ in their commencement of price increase, consumers should pay heed to ensure that their packaged service could catch the deadline for use before it may expire after the CNY holidays.

In addition, consumers should be mindful of the levy of various miscellaneous charges. For example, all companies would impose surcharge on remote areas though how they define remote areas differs from one another. The more common include outlying islands, the Deep Bay, and the Midlevel, etc. with surcharge ranging from $20 to $300 each time, or an additional 1 hour service charge and transport expenses. Consumers, however, should note that some companies regard all locations that are not covered by the MTR network or take 15 minute walk from a MTR station, to be remote areas requiring a $20 to $30 surcharge. Nearly half of the companies surveyed would require surcharge of an extra several $10 dollars according to the areas (Hong Kong Island), dates (weekends or special dates), and time (outside office hours).

Should the cleaners fail to turn up for work, most companies would arrange another time or cleaner to fill the job; 3 of them may offer additional service or refund. And in the event they accidentally cause damage to the household items, all cleaning companies provide in the terms and conditions a maximum compensation amount between $100 and $300. Further, most companies do not have supply for cleaning tools or implements which consumers have to provide.    

The Consumer Council reserves all its right (including copyright) in respect of CHOICE magazine and Online CHOICE.