Note: I am not a good writer. Bear with me for the detailed article. However this was important.
I am a big fan of Bollywood movies. I also admire a lot of actors for their acting skills. However this admiration takes a huge U-turn when it comes to deal with some so-called “Bollywood celebrities” and providing them with a service.
BookMyBai is in a very high eye-ball business. Almost everyone needs our service. There is a common saying – “Maid – You cant live with them, you cant live without them” – We started BookMyBai with an aim to permanently disrupt this industry and become the go-to service whenever a family need a domestic help. After a lot of hard-work and innovation, we proudly claim that our hard-work is starting to pay-off and we have provided a good and reliable domestic help to over 10000 households. Most of the maid agencies in India are fraud and fly-by-night and due to this we are becoming the preferred service to hire a maid.
Fortunately, out of the 10000 households that we have served, we have not come across even a single case of harassment/exploitation. But this figure comes to a rest when it comes to providing a domestic help to a “Bollywood celebrity”.
We all are fans of some celebrity or other. We look upto them. They become role-models. Some of them also get prestigious national awards for their work. BookMyBai has worked very closely with a lot of Bollywood celebrities and provided them with a good domestic help in Mumbai and other cities and our experience has not been less than horrendous.
This piece that I am writing is to bring awareness of how some of these Bollywood celebrities exploit services. I know that I am generalizing and weighing them all in the same scale. But I am only talking out of my personal experience of providing a domestic help to over 20 bollywood celebrities in Mumbai. This is also to put in a word of caution to other buddy-startups who might fall into the trap and end up losing that precious revenue. As a matter of fact, now BookMyBai has a blanket ban on all Bollywood celebrities and we have instructed our team to not provide domestic helps to any of them.
Let me explain my experience by detailing some of the cases that has happened
1) Celebrity 1
She came to us looking for a male helper at a budget of Rs. 4000 per month! This is even lower than the minimum wage of Maharashtra. We refused and told her that we wont be able to provide a helper in this budget (wonder where does all the money go which earns through her movies). After a lot of negotiation she finally agreed upon Rs.10000 per month (which was still on the lower side considering she has a 4-bhk home and the helper needed to clean the home 6 times everyday! Yes- 6 times!) – We went ahead and provided the helper and all was going well. Unfortunately the mother of the helper passed away. The helper was from Bihar and he wanted to go back to Bihar to perform the last rituals. He promised to be back after 15 days since he wanted the money to support his family. The “celebrity” called us and told us that she wont let the person go till the time we send in a replacement. This was at 5.45pm on a Saturday evening. Our office is shut on Sundays. We promised to send a replacement on Monday and requested her to release the helper since he has to go for his mothers last ritual. Guess what! She did not. She could not care less. We did give a replacement on Monday. But the helper missed out on her mothers last ritual. I have no words to the extent of disgust I now have for this lady
2) Celebrity 2
She is a unique case altogether. She has a huge home in Mumbai suburbs and she hired a maid through us. BookMyBai has a 6-month replacement clause with the employers which means that if any domestic help leaves within the first 6-months, then we would provide a free replacement. The extent of torture and harassment to the maids was so high that we replaced maids 7 times. Each maid worked for 7-10 days before giving up and quitting. She drives a 3 crore car. Doesn’t give food to her domestic help. NO FOOD!!! Really!! Drink tea and eat bread 3 times a day. Wow!
Finally we gave the full-refund to the lady since she threatened us that her brother will send in a few bouncers to our office and “fix” us up. I didn’t want this atmosphere in my office and chose to part ways
3) Celebrity 3
This experience actually convinced my team that we would not deal with celebrities anymore. Physical abuse of the maid was almost a daily affair. As soon as we got to know, we asked the maid to leave as soon as possible. When she came to our office, we could see physical marks on her body of physical abuse. We supported her and wanted to file a complaint in the local police station. But she asked us to let it go. She didn’t have the time to run to the police station every time the police calls her. Every time she would be summoned she would have to miss work and not get paid. We understand her concern. Without her support the police refused to take a complaint and we we couldnt file a case against the employer.
The best part is this – We have a very strict abuse clause in our contract and the employer is not given a replacement if there is any form of abuse. The celebrity called us and told us that she has 4 lakh followers on twitter and she would post bad tweets about the company if we don’t give her a replacement. We enquired with the building security guard who says no one stick in this home for over a week since she beats them all.
4) Celebrity 4
She has all the money in the world. Yet she couldn’t solve her maid issues. Her P.A. reached out to us and told us about the requirement. Initially we were very excited since this would open up avenues for future round of funding for the company too. She was also paying well. Atleast more than Mumbai market rate. However her attitude towards the staff was not less than someone who is uneducated. Verbal and physical abuse was a part of her daily routine. The maid got so fed up that she just absconded to her village and never came back. This left such a huge scar in her mind that later she told us she would never want to come back to any city. Now this left us to wonder. How do these people abuse their domestic helps as slaves. Again – we were threatened with legal cases and obviously a small startup of mine cannot deal with legal notices from lawyers who charge Rs. 25 lakhs per hearing! We refunded and closed the case.
5) Celebrity 5
This one is a classic. She took a maid from us. Everything was fine and the maid was happy. No abuse/harassment whatsoever. However she refused to pay us our service charges. BookMyBai charges about Rs. 15000 for a live-in maid. Initially when we were calling her for our payment, she stopped taking our calls. Later she flat-out refused to pay and said –“jo karna hai karlo!” – If I am not wrong, she got multiple crores as alimony from her husband. She infact told us that if we call her again then she would file a case of harassment and extortion with the crime branch. CRIME BRANCH! Wow!
These are just a few cases which I have listed out. We have never come across cases like this with our not-a-bollywood-celebrity clients. Even if there is a deficiency of service, we mutually resolve the issue and come to an understanding. However these celebs have shaken our trust in all of them and we have now issued a blanket-ban
Fellow-startups – Beware! I have listed only one case where the celebrity has refused to pay us. However there has been over 6 such cases where they have threatened to spoil the company's name by filing false complaints.
All these cases disturb me. They also give the team a very good perspective.
For BookMyBai the safety and security of our domestic help is the highest priority. We are fine if we do not earn money from a certain employer. The least that we expect is that he/she can treat a person like a human should be treated. I also hope the legal system of this country improves for the better so that these ladies who work as a domestic help feel empowered and do not feel scared to report a case of abuse.
I hope some of you might be able to share this post with your friends and family to spread awareness about these inhuman celebrities and the way they function. Maybe after reading this post they might want to change the way they treat their support staff!