A New York company offering a variety of services like painting, home cleaning and moving is facing a lawsuit in Washington, D.C., after local customers complained of theft and deceptive sales practices.
Handy Technologies calls itself a sharing economy – connecting customers with independent professionals – but it is facing allegations of taking advantage of and stealing from its customers.
D.C.'s Attorney General's Office accuses the company of untrue or misleading representations regarding safety and security of its cleaners, enrolling consumers without knowledge or consent into a cleaning plan for recurring house cleanings, and misleading statements to consumers about their ability to cancel their plans and receive refunds.
“We have serious questions about how this company is vetting its employees,” Attorney General Karl Racine said. ”We have serious questions about how this company is selling its product.”
Mark Schroeder hired the cleaning service.
“We did it a couple times,” he said. “They come every couple weeks or so.”
He trusted the company, which advertises "background and identity checked professionals."
Schroeder became concerned when a gift card he got for his birthday disappeared.
“It was worth several hundred dollars, and I noticed that it was missing from my desk, and I’m pretty meticulous about that kind of thing,” he said.
About the same time, he noticed unauthorized activity on three of his credit cards, though the cards hadn’t been stolen.
Police arrested a suspect, Schroeder said.
“They end up finding this guy with a phone full of pictures with credit cards,” he said.
Stefan Bradham hired Handy cleaning for a one-time cleaning using Groupon. It was fine, he said, but they came back two weeks later.
“I didn’t know I was in the reoccurring service fee … It was not detailed in the Groupon whatsoever,” he said.
He tried to cancel the $70 cleaning over the phone and found it to be very difficult to cancel.
“I couldn’t cancel through the phone,” he said. “They sent me back to the website, and canceling on the website, you have to do a two-part cancellation.”
Racine said his office has at least 24 consumer complaints of theft while using a Handy service, including the arrest of a cleaning professional who had a lengthy prior criminal record.
Handy responded with a statement saying, ".... From the very start its mission has always been to build a safe and secure platform that continues to improve over time and provides a great experience for both customers and professionals."
The Attorney General's Office suggests if you are hiring a service that requires access into your home, your best bet is asking friends and neighbors for recommendations.