Too much on my mind yesterday so shall write about it today instead.
The CL passed me an evaluation/survey form yesterday to be filled up and handed back to her on her last day.
It is the same form the previous CL gave to me, which I had filled up, sealed and returned to her.
The current CL not-so subtly asked me to tick "Excellent" in all the boxes (factors like Hygiene, Baby care, Cooking, etc), and told me that their fees get deducted by a couple of hundred dollars if they were to get "Very Good" and "Good" ratings.
This was something which the previous CL did not tell me about. She merely asked me to fill up the form.
Though she did tell me that she had to return to the office first and that she had to give the agency part of the payment I made to her.
Now the way PEM works is like this:
💸 Total fees: S$2,600
💸 Deposit paid to PEM upon confirmation: S$850
💸 Balance payment paid in cash to CL upon completion*: S$1,750
So all along I thought the CL gets the $1,750 in full, since the "freelance" rates are in the $2,200-$2,800 range or even higher.
Why would anyone want to work for the agency if they get paid like $1,500 assuming some deduction?
Anyway after what the CL said to me, I instantly felt bad for the previous CL.. because I did not give her the "Excellent" rating on any of the factors.
I really, naively thought it was truly to get the customer's feedback on the service provided, so I was quite honest and objective in my feedback, i.e. She cooks well but doesn't seem to read the baby's needs as well.
I didn't expect the agency to use this as a tool to get some more money out of the already meagre fees the CL is getting.
I understand that there needs to be some way to encourage good performance, but surely a better way is to give a bonus rather than deduct money from them?
It's quite hard to get an Excellent rating across all the factors, if this is indeed the criterion for them to keep the full $1750 as what the CL claimed.
I have read reviews about PEM CLs and I guess there are really all-rounded CLs who are pleasant, hard-working, cook well, take care of the baby well, and manage everything seamlessly.
I'd initially wanted to request for someone I'd read about but unfortunately I'd booked pretty late and as expected she was already taken.
The customer service person advised me that even if we paid that extra $300 to make a specific request, we cannot be 100% sure that the CL would be a perfect fit.
Because what works for one household might not work for another.
Which is quite true, because the CL I had for Clarissa was highly recommended by a friend's friend but she turned out to be quite a nightmare.
In any case I didn't have anyone else in mind so I decided to just let them assign someone.
Afterall we have the option of getting a replacement should the CL not work out for us.
My conclusion after having 2 CLs from PEM is that I have no luck in getting a perfect CL I'd voluntarily rave about on Facebook.
Both of them are nice and pleasant and not in-your-face, but they have their flaws and strengths which I have written about before.
Had I not known about the rating system, I'd definitely not be giving the current CL "Excellent" ratings across all the factors.
But now that I know about it, I'm not sure if I should still be true to myself and give my honest feedback, because things like hygiene when preparing food and milk for the baby and phone usage are important to parents, isn't it?
I have another 1.5 days to ponder over this.
Oh and she also "suggested" I could post a Facebook review, because they earn points with every review.
I'm sure she has asked every of the mummies she'd worked with before.. only only 2 posted reviews in the 6 years she's with the agency?
So I guess I'm going to skip that.
As an agency I think the quality of service is adequate.
The plus point is that we are able to get a replacement fairly quickly should things not work out or should there be unforeseen circumstances like in our case.
Price is reasonable too – at $2600.
I think we paid $2200 for Clarissa's CL 3 years ago, and I'm sure the market rates would have gone up by now.
Confinement prices are like hotel wedding banquet packages – they only increase year on year.
The quality of the CLs is really based on your luck.
The only difference as compared to maid agencies is that you don't get to interview them beforehand.. Which is understandable given their operations model.
I'm guessing based on my sample size of 2 CLs is that the nannies would be at least average – able to cook and take care of baby's basic needs.
One thing I didn't like though was that they didn't offer to cover the "开工红包" for the replacement nanny, or at least provide some form of compensation.
Especially since the first nanny had to leave due to no fault of ours.
I was told that we don't have to give her a "收工红包" but we gave a small token anyway, and also paid for her cab fare.
It's not a lot of money, but I'd have thought that a big agency like PEM should cover for such circumstances.
I paid S$430 for this and no regrets.
Not because I'm a herbal / TCM junkie 😅 but because it really saves the hassle of buying the stuff on my own (or with my mum 😂) and the menu is very systemic.
There is a soup for lunch and for dinner everyday, for different purposes based on what your body would need at each point in time, post partum.
It takes the guesswork out of the equation and I use it to tell my sceptical mum that the CL is doing her job and making soup for me everyday.
With the previous "freelance" CL we bought based on what she told us and she just cooked randomly.. Which is something my mum who has an elephant memory for bad things still harps on today.
If there is one thing I really like about PEM, it is this.
Both CLs recorded the baby's feeding time and amount, and also when she has a diaper change.
So there is no need to remember (or forget) feed timings or pass the message. We all just refer to this table.
And I use it to look at her feed intervals to decide if we need to increase the amount she drinks and to see if there is any pattern to her behaviour.
Hahaha I'm a data/analysis junkie.
Occupational hazard. 😂
I even use it to see what time in the middle of the night she usually wakes up, to see if a 2am pump time makes sense.
If I had the time and energy I might even start drawing charts and graphs with it. 😂 #justkidding
But really, I think this is great.
So I have, erm, created my own template to be used after the CL leaves. 😂
All in all, if you:
– Are not sure where to start or look
– Want to save the hassle of getting recommendations and looking on your own
I'd say, go with an agency.
It doesn't have to be PEM though.
I haven't compared PEM with other agencies, simply because they didn't even reply to my email enquiries.
But I guess they should be quite competitively priced and staffed.
As with anything in life, there will always be pros and cons.
Go with something that fits your needs and style, don't over-think. 😉
Oh as for the post natal massage package, I'd skip it and get my own, because I really won't want to deal with that customer service officer (@weeirdism:171117). 😅
The baby barely slept today and kept crying on and off and feeding every 2 hours.
Even the CL was at her wits end and let out a very loud sigh.
Not sure what is wrong.
Bedtime with Clarissa.
I asked her to send a voice message to Daddy because he's working late again.
"I don't want Daddy to work late. I want Daddy to work early," she said in a small voice.
"But Daddy has work to do. Come say good night," I said to her gently.
Pressed the record button and she suddenly turned cheeky and said good night in some gibberish language before breaking out in giggles.
Suddenly the day doesn't seem all that bad afterall.