Scams on Sittercity, Fact or Fiction?
Side note: if you haven't seen it yet, first read our review of Sittercity.com here before reading this post.
It's ok, I'll wait here, maybe grab a sandwich 🙂 Ok, back to the post!
If you’ve ever typed “Sittercity” into Google, you might have noticed Google finishes your typing with “Sittercity Scams” as one of the search “suggestions.”
But with so many satisfied parents (and sitters!) across the country, how can this be? In today’s post, I decided to take a dive into why this is and whether you, as a parent, should be concerned about this using this site to find someone to care for your most cherished thing in life.
What Are These SitterCity Scam Reports Saying?
Let me start off by exploring the main (and the only) complaints I found. I looked everywhere from small forums to Yelp, to Yahoo Answers. Everything I discovered out there is essentially saying one of 3 things:
- (For Parents) There Is an Ongoing Monthly Subscription Renewal:
- (For Sitters) Faulty or Inconclusive Background Checks Lead to Account Closures for Some Sitters.
- (For Sitters) Fake Job Posts from ‘Parent’ Accounts, and Other Scammy Deals
(For Parents) There Is an Ongoing Monthly Subscription Renewal
SitterCity has various alerts showing that their subscription is ongoing, and that you’ll have to call or contact their representatives online to cancel. Some people, however, have missed the fair warning. This is by far the most common parent’s complaint about the platform. Offering everything from special discounts to fast membership cancellation, we think these claims just aren’t true.
(For Sitters) Fake Job Posts from ‘Parent’ Accounts, and Other Scammy Deals
Another “scam” accusation comes from sitters who signed up for the platform and got scammed by a supposed ‘parent’. Much like any online platform, there is a possibility that some people are there to prey on young, naive babysitters, promising large checks in exchange for “favors” or “errands” of one kind or another. If your potential sitter seems to be drilling you with questions, he or she has probably read one of these scam stories. Luckily SitterCity takes initiative in helping sitters and parents protect themselves. They regularly post blogs like this one instructing users on how to stay safe on the platform.
Here's an example of the most common type of sitter complaint:
So, What’s Really Going on With These Scam Reports?
We all know that it’s easy for bloggers (like me) to jump into battle-cry mode when something doesn’t go their way. Unfortunately, these people are upset about something else entirely– the fact that they made a mistake. Most online subscriptions automatically renew, most $1,000 plus advances from total strangers are scams. The reality is that SitterCity does what it does well, and we think they’re pretty clear about how you should and shouldn’t use the service.
All the complaints we’ve seen online boil down to two problems:
User Error #1: Not Reading The Fine Print
Most of the complaints we’ve seen are a direct result of an incomplete understanding of how SitterCity works. I’ve mentioned it countless times before and I’ll say it again, don’t enter your payment information unless you’re totally clear on what you’re getting into.
User Error #2: Believing Tall Tales
Some of the other complaints about SitterCity are actually about individual sitters. Just like every person-to-person interaction, you need to weary when ANYONE asks you for money. These negative reports are no fault of SitterCity.
In fact, SitterCity explicitly outlines what you should and shouldn’t do with their sitters, and operating in dealings outside the context of their service, i.e. giving your babysitter money for “sick mother’s surgery.”
This is something that’s just as likely on any babysitting platform, classified ad, or friend-of-a-friend recommendation. It’s up to you to be wary of loaning money to anyone, especially strangers. One thing is for sure, if a sitter has scammed anyone on SitterCity, you’ll be able to see their reviews. Unlike other sources, it can really come in handy.
Tips for Avoiding a SitterCity Horror Story
The bottom line is that there’s only one thing that ruins SitterCity for a small fraction of the people who try it, and that’s ignorance. If you aren’t at least skimming the rules and regulations of the online services you use, you’re bound to slip up.
Here are 3 Ways to Protect Yourself if You’re a SitterCity Parent:
- Don’t give out sensitive information, especially if someone asks for it.
- Don’t entrust your sitter with more than what you’re paying him/her to do. Make your expectations clear and follow your instincts. If you stick to the SitterCity guidelines you can almost certainly avoid a lot of the slip-ups that parents and caregivers alike have.
- Again, make sure that you understand what you’re getting yourself into before you enter your credit card information anywhere online. There are few subscription services that stop renewing on their own month-to-month. With SitterCity in particular, you need to call to cancel your membership or change your account settings online if you no longer want premium access.
Here are 3 Ways to Protect Yourself if You’re a SitterCity Caregiver:
- The interview process is a 2-way street. You have every right to ask questions and make sure that you’re clear and comfortable with the terms that you and your potential employer discuss.
- Don’t do work for free and don’t take money for work you haven’t done yet. This is almost always one of those too-good-to-be-true situations that your mom has been telling you about since you were a kid. Don't take candy from strangers.
Play by the rules and you’ll be handsomely rewarded with an abundance of friendly, knowledgeable babysitters on call whenever you need them. Be sure to visit the SitterCity Safety Center for more tips on how to protect yourself.