Upfront payment for cleaning services in London

‘”Not my problem”, she said and shut the door. We had woken up at 5 am and travelled for two hours to reach her location in time for the service. And now that we were there, she shut the door in our faces and sent us packing.

The woman had booked an end of tenancy cleaning service with us.  Everything was confirmed and the price agreed upon. It seemed like a done deal. Yet in the meantime, she had gotten an offer for a lower price and had taken it. We weren’t asking for upfront payments back then so we got nothing.

The woman saved 20 pounds. We lost hundreds from both her job and all the other jobs we had to refuse because we were booked. And there was nothing we could do but go home. I knew then and there something had to change.’

When the Samyx Cleaning co-founder, Stan Velchev, told me this story, I knew I had to write about it. It’s usually stories like this that lead to policy changes and people need to know why. So in this article, let’s clarify why some companies (including Samyx Cleaning) ask for an upfront payment of services.

In this article:

  • Clients don't respect bookings otherwise
  • Clients don't cancel appointments
  • Asking for half the price in advance is a compromise, but not a good one
  • Upfront payments keep both sides honest
  • Is this some kind of scam?
  • Conclusion 

Clients don’t respect bookings otherwise

The truth is, people don’t have much respect for cleaning services in London. Cleaning is seen as a lowly, menial job. At the same time, many cleaning companies use pricing shenanigans to keep prices low. It’s hardly surprising people have little respect for the industry.

As a result, cleaning companies need to take measures and ensure the above situation doesn’t happen. One of the ways to achieve this is to ask for a pre-payment. Therefore, people can put their money where their mouth is.

This is not just to mitigate potential losses, but to also shield ourselves from predatory practices by competitors. Some companies would do anything for a booking, including offering a lower price (and lower quality service).

A tactic like this rarely works for people who use regular cleaning. They’ve already established a relationship with their cleaner and they’d rarely change them even if they are offered a lower price. Respect and trust are more important in this instance.

However, when we’re talking about end of tenancy cleaning, things are different. People aren’t booking the end of tenancy cleaning service for themselves, so they don’t particularly care who does it, as long as they get their deposit back. And they aim to pay as little as possible in the meantime. Of course, they’re rarely happy with the result when they choose the lowest bidder, but that’s a different story.

One of the main reasons to ask for an upfront payment of services is to seal the contract and make sure clients won’t back out at the last second.

Clients don’t cancel appointments

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Naturally, there is nothing wrong with cancelling an appointment. Things pop up, plans change, life happens. It’s perfectly acceptable to cancel your booking (in a reasonable time frame, of course).

However, many people don’t respect the cleaning service enough to actually pick up the phone and cancel. No, you find out about it once you’re at the address at the appointed hour.

This means you’ve wasted hours of your day over nothing. London is a big city and it’s not that easy to get from one place to the other. And to reiterate, you’ve also refused other jobs because of this one booking. So your losses can easily pile up.

That being said, when a client has paid their service in advance, they’ll definitely call if they want to cancel so they can get their money back.

Once again, there’s nothing wrong with cancelling an appointment, but you need to understand you have a business on the other end. A business that’s sustaining losses if you don’t show them the basic courtesy of respecting their time.

Asking for half the price in advance is a compromise, but not a good one

Some companies ask for half the price of the service in advance. It’s like a deposit. However, this is not a great approach because too many clients refuse to pay the other half of what they owe.

This usually happens with end of tenancy cleaning. After the service is done, clients say they’re not happy and refuse to pay for the rest of the service. Then they refuse to use the guarantee (it’s standard practice to offer a 72-hour guarantee on end of tenancy cleaning).

They’d be well within their right to be unhappy if the landlord or real estate agent confirm the cleaning company didn’t do a thorough enough job.

Quite the contrary. Oftentimes, landlords and real estate agencies are more than happy with the service and the client gets their security deposit back. Yet the client still insists the quality of the service didn’t match their expectation or something along those lines and refuses to pay. Even though they’ve gotten their deposit back.

This is the equivalent of going to a restaurant, finishing your entire meal (along with dessert), and then refusing to pay because you “didn’t like it”. 

Naturally, this can get settled in court but in many cases, it’s not worth the hassle. So companies take the loss and change their policy in the future, asking for payment in advance.

Upfront payments keep both sides honest

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Clients aren’t the only ones who can change their minds at the last second. Some companies, unprofessional as it may be, don’t show up to their appointments because a bigger job came along in the meantime.

This shouldn’t happen, but sadly – it does. Say you’re working with Company X and book them for next Tuesday, 10 am for your 2-bedroom flat. Everything seems fine, but no money has changed hands.

Tuesday, 10 am comes and goes and the only thing you hear is the buzzing traffic outside. No sign of your cleaners. Where are they? You call the company and get connected to a call centre where they give you some generic excuses. While the truth is, a 4-bedroom flat came along for the same time as your booking and the company dropped you so they could get the bigger client. Simple as that.

Upfront payments ensure this doesn’t happen. It’s not just for the company’s benefit. It’s for yours because you’re guaranteed they’ll show up and do their job. Once you’ve paid for the service, you have peace of mind that the cleaners will do their job in the specified time. This is especially important for end of tenancy cleaning since you’re on the clock.

Is this some kind of scam?

If you’re still wondering if this is some type of scam even after reading everything so far, then there’s nothing I can write that will change your mind.

With bank transfers, software tracks every transaction. When you wire a pre-payment for a service to a legitimate company, you have nothing to worry about.

On the other hand, if someone insists you pay in cash under the table and they don’t have the proper paperwork, this is a red flag.

There are more than 10,000 cleaning companies in London (and probably as many self-employed cleaners). It would be ludicrous to expect all of them to be legitimate businesses. So pay attention to whom you’re working with. If you only use legitimate, reputable companies, you’ll have no issues and you won’t get scammed.

Furthermore, there’s plenty of client protection in the terms and conditions of legitimate companies. At the end of the day, a real business cares about their brand, public image, and reputation.

There’s nothing to worry about. All the reasons for asking for an upfront payment are legitimate and you get all the paperwork needed to prove you’ve paid for the service.


While it may seem strange at first, there’s a good reason for asking you to pay for your service in advance. Once money changes hands, it keeps everyone honest.

It ensures that you will get your service and the work you’ve paid for, and that the company will keep their end of the deal and get paid. It works out well for everyone and keeps everyone honest. After all, trust and honesty are and should be a staple of the cleaning industry.

Samyx Cleaning - Branding Consultant, Author - Atanas
Author: Atanas Dzhingarov

Hi, I’m Atanas - brand consultant and writer. I’m helping Samyx Cleaning create the best cleaning company blog on the Internet. Join us on our journey and learn how to live a cleaner, healthier, happier life in the process.