A cleaning company has defended its decision to charge $18,000 to scrub an elderly hoarder’s home filled with human faeces, dead rodents and 10-year-old rotting food.
Crime Scene Cleaners was last month called in to scour a Palmerston North property, 143km north of Wellington, after the man who lived there died.
The reclusive resident had left the home’s floors covered in mounds of debris, surfaces caked in dirt and grime, and dishware soiled with food remnants.
Three cleaners were sent from Auckland and Wellington to complete the heavy-duty three-day job of clearing rubbish and scrubbing down surfaces.
Cleaners charge a family $18,000 to clean up a hoarder’s home.
A woman is disputing the cleaning bill for her father’s Palmerston North home after years of hoarding left the property covered in rubbish and soiled by rotting food and dead rats
‘There was human excrement and urine, rodent droppings and carcasses, rotten food, food boxes that were more than 10 years old,’ Crime Scene Cleaners Managing Director Carl Loader said.
But the man’s daughter is disputing the bill after initial estimates placed the total cost of the job between $15,525 to $17,250.
After receiving the $18,637 invoice, she discovered the price included $7750 for labour, $1245 for accommodation, $903 for PPE and $800 for meal allowances.
In the estimate email, the cleaning company stated the fee would include all technician labour, travel expenses, skip hire, rubbish disposal, PPE, chemicals and disposable cleaning equipment.
Although the woman understood workers would need to travel, she was blindsided by the cost of staff expenses and for waterblasting, which she asked to be included after the initial estimate had been issued.
She said the bill also included a $500 ‘call out fee’ that she was never told about and the price escalation felt like ‘taking advantage of the situation’.
Crime Scene Cleaners Managing Director Carl Loader explained the woman requested waterblasting after she had received the initial cost estimate. Pictured: The house after being scrubbed down
‘He’s not completely upfront – this is what you’ll pay for and this is what it will cost,’ the woman, who wished to remain anonymous to protect her father’s reputation, said.
‘When you are in that type of business, you need a certain amount of empathy and understanding and you need to be clear with people.’
The complaint comes after another woman who used the same company to clean a car where her son had taken his life spoke out after being slapped with a $6300 bill.
Maree Tinsley was charged $150 an hour for 27 hours, compared to the woman’s $125 rate for 62 hours, and also received a call out fee of $250.
Mr Loader has justified the cost in both circumstances, arguing he pays his cleaners well as they work hard and the job is emotionally and physically taxing.
He said one staff member spent six days in Palmerston North, while his other two workers were there for two, with the away allowances including $80 a day for meals and other costs.
The woman said she was blindsided by staff expenses on the bill (pictured) although she was aware workers would need to travel from out of town
Several sets of PPE were also necessary, he said, due to the smell and risk of infection.
As for Ms Tinsely, Loader said the car had been left sitting for days after his body was removed and there was a strong smell and bodily fluids.
Crime Scene Cleaners, which operates in Wellington, Auckland, and Christchurch, was the company used by police to help clean the Al Noor Mosque after the Christchurch massacre in 2019.
Graeme Stephens, the owner of Auckland Steam ‘n’ Dry which also cleans hoarders homes, said $10,000 plus GST was the highest price he had ever charged for a large two-storey home.
However, he said it was a local job and did not include travel and accommodation costs.