Money in question after domestic help firm shuts

Citing financial difficulties, a domestic help service provider shut its doors last week, leaving prepaid card buyers and employees in the lurch.

Citing financial difficulties, a domestic help service provider shut its doors last week, leaving prepaid card buyers and employees in the lurch.

Sanding Housekeeping Group has more than 100 outlets in 30 cities nationwide, including 27 in Shanghai. All of them have reportedly ceased operation. 

On its website, Sanding claimed it was the first domestic-help service company to issue prepaid cards in China. Rates for hourly services became less costly as customers added more value to their cards.

There are nearly 500 victims in two WeChat groups in Shanghai, and their prepaid cards are reportedly valued at over 4 million yuan (US$597,907).

Customers in Shanghai have already notified police, who have started an investigation.

A woman surnamed Si complained to Shanghai Morning Post that she spent 11,000 yuan on prepaid housekeeping services in January. This translated into an hourly rate of 22 yuan, compared with the market price of 30 yuan.

“However, every ayi (domestic helper) was in a hurry on the job, and none of them satisfied me over a three month period,” said Si.

After hearing local media reports of Sanding’s financial troubles, as well as ayi complaints of not being paid for up to half a year, Si demanded a refund at the company’s Xujiahui branch, but did not receive any money.

Si added that a friend of hers spent 30,000 yuan on prepaid Sanding services, which translated into a housekeeping rate of 16 yuan per hour.

Another Sanding customer, surnamed Guo, spent 5,000 yuan on prepaid services in November. He claims he was tricked by offers of cheap hourly rates made by Sanding staff.

However, earlier this year Guo found it difficult to book services and so demanded a refund. The company reportedly agreed, but Guo says he has not seen any money.

Prepaid card buyers were not the only victims. Employees are in arrears, and many managers bought prepaid cards themselves to meet their sales targets. Managers were told that they would not be paid until their targets were met.

One Sanding manager in Xuhui District was said to have spent more than 1 million yuan to meet target. In a statement on the company’s website, Sanding said it would go into liquidation and post updates on its site.

In Beijing, police have also started an investigation.


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