babysitting blues

A Babysitter Wants A $480 Cancellation Fee From Parents Who Changed Their Getaway Plans

She missed out on three days of pay.

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Finding a good babysitter is no easy feat. Interview after interview can leave a parent drained, feeling hopeless that they’ll never have a night out ever again. When a parents entrusts someone with complete care for their children while they are away, it only makes sense to find someone with good credentials, experience, and a fair rate.

One woman — with ten years of childcare experience and an impressive resumé — agreed to watch a friend of a friend’s children for a few days while they were out of town. The money was good so she had to take off work from her normal job. When the parents canceled with her last minute, and she was unable to get her shifts back, she demanded a cancellation fee. The parents laughed in her face.

Now, she’s asking Reddit if she’s in the wrong.

In the popular “Am I The A—hole” subreddit, the babysitter wrote about the incident, which is still bugging her months later, asking if she was the “a—hole” in the situation.

“5 months ago, a friend of a friend ‘Claudia’ asked me if I could watch her sons while she and her husband attended a wedding out of state,” she began. “She wanted me to stay 3 days, 2 nights. I babysit a lot to supplement my income and was interested.”

She goes on to explain how she calculated what to charge.

“For overnights, I always charge my usual rate for all waking hours and then a flat rate of $100/night while they’re sleeping. This covers me still being on call. I can’t leave the house and if the kids wake up, I’ll tend to them.”

The full price for her services came out to almost a grand, which shocked the parents at first, but once she explained to them that she has tons of experience and will basically be their only care for three full days, they agreed.

“Overall, the price for those 3 days was going to be $840. Which I know is a lot but to me, this is a luxury service. I have 10 years of experience, am expected to clean, cook and drive her kids places, as well as sleep at their house. Unlike other jobs, I’m basically working 3 days straight,” she continued.

“I requested the time off work. I don’t get PTO, but figured I was making more doing this than I would working 3 days at my other job, so I figured it’d be worth it.”

Before the big job, she babysat the kids a few times. One time, she was chatting with the husband who began asking her questions about the wedding weekend, including how much she was charging. Clearly, Claudia and her husband hadn’t communicated about this.

“When I told him, he was clearly uncomfortable. But he still said, ‘we’ll see you Friday’,” she wrote.

The vibes she was catching from the dad were spot on because the next day, she got a text from Claudia that she and her husband were cancelling her babysitting services for the upcoming weekend.

“I texted Claudia and said that she needed to pay me at minimum what I’d make at work in those 3 days ($480),” she wrote.

“She told me I was being ridiculous and the whole point is they don’t feel it’s worth it to pay that much. I explained that I took the time off. We didn’t have a contract which in hindsight was stupid. I know legally they don’t have to, and I’d have no case. I didn’t say this, just said the right thing is for her to pay. I added if they had told me earlier and I was able to get those shifts back, it’d be different.”

Even the friend that made the connection thinks she’s being “ridiculous.”

She then noted a huge double standard if the roles were reversed. “I pointed out that if I had cancelled this close, they’d be reasonably pissed and screwed,” she concluded.

The majority of Reddit sided with the OP, noting that while the situation isn’t great, the OP needs to take this as a major lesson if she wants to continue babysitting as a side hustle.

“You're NTA and should try to collect. Treat this as a learning experience. In the future, if you have to take off work, ask for 50% deposit up front. Maybe have a receipt that specifies "non cancelable,’” one Reddit user wrote in a reply that was upvoted 2k times.

Another echoed, “NTA: You were prepared to work for them for those days, and then they cancelled at the last minute. No, you aren't TA for asking for the money. However, without a written contract, I wouldn't expect to get a dime from them.”

One user wanted some clarification if the parents were made aware of the OP’s cancellation policy before they decided to change plans. “INFO: Did they know you have a cancellation policy? Did they know you took time off work in order to babysit their kids?” one user asked.

The OP replied, “The thing is, I never had a cancellation policy because this has never happened before. I had one other family cancel semi-last minute, though for a regular date night job. They paid me in full, so I assumed it was customary.”

“The mom knew I took the time off. She's aware of my full time job and the fact that my hours vary week to week. I assured her that I'd specifically ask for those days off. She also knows my line of work (not childcare) which does not get PTO.”

Some other Reddit users landed somewhere in the middle of this fiasco. “I understand being angry that they cancelled so late, but you also didn't give them a time frame that they needed to cancel by. It's not just the lack of written contract, but your lack of clarity on that point. You both handled it badly, so ESH (Everyone Sucks Here),” one user replied.

Another user agreed and said, “ESH. Demanding 3 days payment is too much. A deposit or 1 days wage should have been pre-paid to reserve your time. It was rude of her to cancel at last minute and she should have offered at least some money.”

Read the entire Reddit thread here. And make sure to have contracts and cancelation fees for any job that’s a significant amount of money!

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