Monday, April 19, 2010

Dog Sitters: Don't Shortchange Customers With Automated Homes

We recently went on vacation for a few days and had a dog sitter/walker take care of our dog while we were gone. We had the sitter visit our dog during the day to walk, play with, feed and clean up after him. We chose the duration of the visits and were billed accordingly. To get to our dog, the sitter had to open the side gate, which of course, is monitored and logged by our system. I used that information to gauge when a visit started and when it ended. Our security cameras, which are recorded, could also provide an extra confirmation if needed.

Unfortunately, the results are not good. There was not a single visit where the sitter stayed for the duration we paid.

Visit #1: 18% short
Visit #2: 50% short!
Visit #3: 33% short
Visit #4: 26% short
Visit #5: 23% short
Visit #6: 28% short

Overall, we were billed for 28% more than the actual number of minutes. My wife and I were stunned by how the sitter consistently shortchanged our pooch and not just by a couple minutes. For example, a 30 minute visit was really only 15 minutes and a 1 hour visit was cut short by 20 minutes. All those 5 star reviews on Yelp must have been written by friends or completely clueless people (AKA normal people without automation systems).

Our dog is a very important part of our family, and it bothers us more that he was shortchanged on attention than us being ripped off. Needless to say, rather than confront the sitter, we are going to cut our losses and find a new service (and put up a review on Yelp). This brings up the question, is it really possible to find a sitter who actually stays for the agreed upon durations? You are really at the whim of the sitter's honesty and it seems really easy to cheat. How do you guarantee you get what you pay for?

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