I am not shocked by the incidents mentioned here as I had also my share of experience with these housemaid consultancies. As there are no regulations currently in Kerala to control these agencies, they are on the prowl upon innocent victims (whom we can call customers) who are in dire need of a domestic assistance due to various reasons. May be these agencies fall within the purview of the Consumer Protection Act. The proof of profitability (by cheating) of these agencies is evident in the mushrooming of agencies in every town, mostly in southern Kerala.
There is nothing which can be called a good agency in this field; as I say from the experience of many of my friends as well as that mine; all of us from Bangalore. The best thing we can do at present is to prepare a BLACK LIST which can be considered a sure No No. Let me add two agencies; (with whom I had repeated incidents of bad experience), to the above agencies mentioned in previous responses. So the black list can now include,
Boss Consultancy Services, Kottayam and Ernakulam
Snehitha Manpower Consultancy, Kottyam
Sunija Associated, Muvattupuzha
Edens Associates, Kottayam.
I hired the services of Sunija Associated, Muvattupuzha sometime around Nov 2008 by paying the service charge for six months. I got their service for about a month and half; and then the guy started the usual behaviour of not picking the phone, giving weird reasons etc. Fortunately what I lost was only the service charge for the remaining 4.5 months.
What I lost with Edens Associates, Kottayam was both service charge and the advance salary of one month which they collected while giving the first maid. The service continued for hardly a month eventhough it was supposed to be for 3 months. I wrote off the service charge part but followed up with the request to return the advance amount which was due to me (a little over Rs 4000 ). The same old story as mentioned by other respondents happened here as well.
The moral of the story is that we need to be extremely careful about dealing with these quacks. Let me note down a couple of guidelines regarding this.
1. The onus of protecting your money as well as property (while dealing with the agencies) is upon you, and be careful about it. Do not give large sums in the form of service charge or advance; try the agency for a small period and if you are comfortable, go ahead.
2. These agencies show a great deal of customer friendliness when you first sign up with them; because that is the time when you pay money. The behaviour during sign up is no indication of their actual intentions.
3. Do not believe the agent when they say the maid is known to them for a long period. They usually stretch an experience of one day into one year or one week into five years. Most of the maids are hit and run cases, whose primary intention in coming to Bangalore is just to see around the place for free and once they do that in a couple of weeks; they will invent some reasons to log off. I had the experience of getting even lunatics; who had to be packed off in a couple of days.
4. If somebody known to you is running an agency, then take the maid from them; atleast you will have some handle somewhere.
5. To the extent possible, use local maids available in Bangalore. Sit down and think; which all jobs can be entrusted to the local maids and if there is anything which cannot be done by locals. For baby sitting and all, I would prefer a reasonable creche than these mentally abnormal ladies who come from agencies.
With all what has been said above, you still have a, one in thousand chance to get a good maid; and if you get that, your life will be easier. But are you willing to go through the ordeal, to try out your luck ??
Lets have more responses, so that we can see whether we will be able to do something creative and useful about this.