I was going to write this about a month ago, and I thought that I would give these people the benefit of the doubt for just a little while longer. Well, that was incredibly stupid on my part because they didn't even deserve that.
About 2 months ago I received a call at 7 am from a number that I didn't recognize. It was a woman telling me that she had an emergency situation and needed a cat sitter. She was literally in a hospital bed in New Jersey awaiting a cardiac procedure and told the doctor that she couldn't have anything done until she knew that her cats were taken care of. You could hear it in her voice - the weakness, the worry, the concern. She told me that she had emailed me the night before (turns out she did at 11 pm and I was asleep). She also told me that her husband had emailed me a few weeks prior to ask about my services. They had a horrible story - Their house in NJ was being repaired after major water damage and they were living temporarily in a highrise in Center City and living off insurance money from the house. Then she ends up in the hospital with heart issues. Of course I agreed to take care of the cats! I am not a monster!
She informs me that no one has been there in nearly 3 days, so they must be starving. We get there as soon as possible which was around 11 am. They didn't have the key at the front desk so they had to call maintenance to let us in the apartment. The cats DESTROYED the place! There were broken dishes all over the floor that they flung out of the cabinet, no food or water, dirty litter, etc. Mike looks all over for food and litter and doesn't see anything. I call the owners cell phone - she doesn't answer. I call the hospital that she gave me the number for, they give me a hard time because I don't know her last name. All I had was a first name, a husbands name, a room number , and a reason for being there. After they transferred me to 3 different people, they finally got me connected to her room. She sounded distressed and put me on the phone with her husband who THEN tells me that there is no food or litter and we have to go buy some. I ask specifically what kind of food and litter (I don't want to stress the cats out any further with new things in their world) and we go to Target to buy everything. We then go BACK to the highrise, have maintenance let us in AGAIN and feed the starving kitties. I told the owner that morning that we would go until we heard otherwise.
We return the next few days and still hear nothing from them as to when they are coming back. The 3rd or 4th day we come in and the carpet has been freshly vacuumed and someone had fed the cats. Was it them? Housekeeping? I had no idea - so I call and text to see if they are back. I don't get a response, so we skip a day. We come in the day after that and ask the front desk if they are back in the apartment. They say yes, they saw them 2 days prior hanging out on the computer in the lobby!! What??!! They didn't leave a note or money, nothing. Later that afternoon I received a text from the husband that says that they are back (2 days after the fact) and he thanked me for everything. There was no question of what they owed me, payment, etc., So I sent one back stating that we bought food and litter (the receipt was on their fridge held up by my business magnet) and they owed us for 4 visits. I got no reply for a week or so. I sent an email with a balance. Another week goes by. Then I finally get an email apologizing for the lack of contact, stating that they are having financial difficulties, etc. I knew this and even said at the very least, I need to be reimbursed for the food and litter. He said that he would send that right away and get the rest to me as soon as possible. So far I have not seen a dime OR heard from them. I don't ever expect to which is why I can badmouth them in this blog without a hint of guilt.
Moral of the story is this. Just communicate and be honest. If they had told me that they couldn't pay - I probably still would have helped them out. I may not have purchased such pricey food and litter....but I would have helped because their situation was dire. The fact they just disappeared and didn't even offer to compensate me is beyond insulting. This is my business and my livelihood. This is not a hobby and I am not a teenager doing this for pocket money. I have a house and a mortgage and responsibilities and that should be respected. I never met these people and I don't even know what they look like. I refuse to send them another email that simply states common sense and decency in society because I know that they won't respond OR feel any remorse. The truth is that they were lucky to have hired me and not someone else who would have taken advantage of the situation. I know in the end I got screwed, but at least I know that I was the one who did right by them.