Customer Service Fail
The following email arrived in the mailbox this morning:
HI FrumeSarah and Prince Charming,
This is So-and-So with ****** **** Au Pair. I just wanted to quickly check in on your current childcare situation and see if hosting an au pair might still be an option for you. We are running a special promotion for former host families, etc…
After sputtering about in disbelief, I crafted the following response:
You may recall that we participated in the Au Pair program back in the autumn of 2006. After just two months, I came home from work to be told by our au pair that she “simply couldn’t take it anymore” and that she “doesn’t care for being an au pair.” She felt that it was too stressful, too much work, was making her sick, and what she really wanted to do is go to college. She’d been unhappy, it turned out, for about four weeks. Never mentioned a thing because “there was no point in saying anything until I made up my mind.” She did, however, have enough presence of mind to apply to a community college in a different part of the county and arrange to move in with two friends.
After an unproductive three-way meeting between us, the au pair and our local coordinator, it was decided that the only realistic path was to sever the relationship. However, we were required to house her for two weeks after the exit interview. We chose not to let her drive since (a) she dinged our car and (b) never got us the paperwork that we need to insure her. So in addition to the kids spending a lot of time at home during those final two weeks, we had someone living with us who simply didn’t want to be there.
At the end of the two weeks, PC drove the au pair to her new apartment in Glendale — a 70 mile round trip. As he was prepared to drive away, she asked for a stipend to cover her final two weeks. Given that we had provided her with free room and board during her final two weeks nor we did not dock her for the damage done to our car, we felt under no obligation to pay her for that time.
Though it had been a rather disappointing experience, our local coordinator assured us that we were not at fault and that we would soon be matched with the perfect au pair for our family. With eager anticipation, we opened the applications. One after another…of completely incompatible matches. A slew of girls whose English skills were minimal. Followed by a girl with better language capacity — but no driver’s license!! Hard to fathom, given that one of the main duties was transporting the children to and from school. We received an application for one young woman who wouldn’t live with a family that has dietary restrictions (we keep kosher) and several who wouldn’t work with special needs kids (like our son who Asperger’s). My favourite mismatch was one girl who had stated flat out that she was not willing to work with a special needs kid and I was advised to interview her anyway because our son is just “a mild case.” Turns out that she didn’t want to work with a special needs child because her brother has Down’s. The interesting part — she stated on her app that she was an only child! We had applicants put into our account that then suddenly disappeared for odd reasons. Our “match counselor” kept changing. Yet, we kept hoping.
Finally. After many weeks of searching, we found our match. Or so we thought.
Less than twelve hours after it had been settled, the girl reneged. Decided that upon further reflection, three children was not what she wanted.
This was six months after our original au pair had left our home. The final straw came when your company sent us an email, requesting a second registration fee in order to continue with the au pair program.
I am surprised to receive an email three years after our shocking experience with your company. Not only are we certain that the au pair program is not for us, we respectfully request to be removed from any and all contact lists.