A “flameout” au pair is one who obviously never intended to do the job of an au pair.
Few things are more infuriating to a host parent than going through ll the work (and cost) of screening, interviewing and matching with an au pair– not to mentioned preparing kids and home — to have that au pair be so impossibly wrong that you need to match immediately. And when you think that the flameout occurred because the au pair agency did not do its due diligence with the au pair candidate, you want some of that effort and money back.
I feel so duped.
Having been a host mom for 14 years, I’ve had some great experiences and also some nightmare experiences with au pairs.
Just last month, I finally decided to leave the au pair program altogether, after a complete failure with an agency.
Through the agency, we got two different au pairs who were completely not up to the job. It also appears that neither one was well-screened or well-oriented by the agency.
In June, a Bosnian girl arrived who told me on day 3 that she was bored and planned to take off to California. (Clearly, being an au pair was just a way to get here to the US). It took me all summer to find someone new to start in September, and that girl, too, quit, saying she didn’t like her hours — which I had clearly explained in the interview and in the forms.
I decided not to re-enroll with the agency. But their refund policy is ridiculous! It means I paid $550 a week for 10 weeks of really bad child care. And the hourly rate is even worse, since the girls didn’t work even close to full-time.
Has anyone had any success in getting a better refund, without having to sign a waiver saying you won’t ever talk about your experience? With what the agencies charge the families, and the girls, they’ve got to be making a huge profit… They told me they make no guarantees.
Help! Ideas? Suggestions?
Parents, what advice do you have for working with an agency to get a refund? Counselors, any inside tips?
Image: Firefall from jurvetson