Monday

Bouncing Babies for Bouncing Checks

Received Monday, April 26, 2010
perspective and opinion I need some quick advice about a problem I'm having. I am a former nanny who had to give it up to go to nursing school full-time. Now I babysit to pay the bills. I have an ad on Sittercity and have no problem finding jobs. But I've noticed a pattern of parents writing checks for payment. I have had 2 checks bounce from 2 different families and when I tried to contact them, they never returned my calls. So I basically worked for free. I guess I want to know if it's okay to ask to be paid in cash from the get-go. I hate to do this but I feel like it's the only way to ensure I don't get screwed over again. Any advice?

20 comments:

Clover said...

I am ONLY paid in cash. The only times I have accepted a check, it was from a family I had been a nanny for for over a year, and the mother asked if I was okay with it.

There is nothing wrong with asking to be paid in cash. If they don't have cash, they can always stop at an ATM and get some for you. Any reasonable person would understand the reasoning behind it.

TC said...

Absolutely. I would be upfront about it though and just say "Sorry I've been burned in the past so I will only accept cash"

You have a right to get paid for your work and you shouldn't feel guilty about demanding cash, many businesses no longer accept checks so there is no reason you have to either

Joanne said...

You shouldn't worry about it at all, especially since these are not steady jobs but occasional jobs. Just be up front about it so they're not caught by surprise!

And shame on those families for bouncing a check to you!

TC said...

BTW people know how much they owe the babysitter before they come home so there should be no reason for not having cash, they can stop at an ATM long before they come home so again don't feel guilty for having a no checks policy.

It's always been a pet peeve of mine when a parent will say "Ohh how much do I owe you?" or "Ohh all I have are 20s so I'll give you extra this time and take it out of your pay next time"

BayAreaMom said...

I always pay sitters in cash and wouldn't expect anyone to take a check. Perfectly okay to tell them you only take cash.

Village said...

It's illegal to write hot checks. They may even be using a closed account.

I'd go to the police if I were you. Think of the sitters coming after you to whom this same thing will happen.

MissDee said...

I agree with Village. They maybe using a closed account, writing checks. And if either of these families write you a check, which in turn you deposit into your account and that check comes back as NSF, you pay the price, because you willingly accepted the check, even though the account it was written under is closed.

Here's the thing: if a family does write you a bounced check and you accept it on good faith only for it to come back returned, you cannot be held responsible, because you had no way of knowing the check was bad when you accepted it. I know this because a daycare that I worked for bounced a paycheck, which I cashed at a check cashing place. I later found out this paycheck bounced after I recieved a letter from the check cashing company, alerting me to the fact that it bounced. They tried holding me responsible, yet I told them I had no way of knowing the check was going to bounce. The check was cleared and paid, and the owner of the daycare took care of everything.

I sometimes get paid in check when I babysit, which I don't mind, yet also don't like, especially one family that I sit for who has an out of state bank. If a business can call a bank to verify funds in the account before accepting the check, then you can do it as well. I would do this in person at the families bank. Simply explain to the teller you are concerned about being paid in the form of a check (no other explanation needed) and that you would like to know if there is enough in the account to cover the check. If there is enough money, cash the check at your bank. If not, contact the family and let them know.

Hopefully people will have more sense than to pay with bad checks....

Dribs said...

I think it's totally reasonable to ask to be paid in cash. If you need to specify, just say something like "due to a few unfortunate incidents, for occasional sitting you are only able to accept cash as payment." If people press, you might offer to take a checks from them once you get to know each other - say after three sits. I've had families I babysit/nanny for on a regular basis pay me by check. The other detail of cash v check is potential tax issues.

I would also suggest leaving a review on the parent on sittercity, to warn other sitters.

Sorry this happened to you!

Nanny Sarah said...

Yes, I think it is okay to ask for cash only. Just ask to be paid in cash early on so the parents can have enough time to stop at the ATM, etc. In regards to Nanny/Babysitting work since you are not working for a company and instead a private family, it is wise to accept cash payment.
If I got a bounced check from a family and I knew where they lived at (the address on the check + if I worked in their home) I would show up at the house and ask for my money. I got a bounced check and went to the house. The lady was embarrassed and immediately gave me cash..I wonder why she just didn't do that at first anyway..but oh well.

AMom said...

I have never heard of or thought of, paying an evening babysitter with a check! I am shocked you even took one!

Cash only al the time! I thought it was common knowledge that babysitting is a cash gig!

MissMannah said...

I can't believe you haven't called these people on it! You obviously know where they live, so just show up at their house and ask for your money. Sugar-coat it by saying "I'm sure you didn't realize this, but unfortunately I was unable to cash this check." or something and then never, ever sit for those people again.

And absolutely yes, ask for cash in the future. In fact, put it on your sittercity profile page.

wondering... said...

We always pay our two different sitters via check. As a busy family, it's sometimes difficult to get to an ATM, especially if it is a last minute request. We are in the habit of always using debit/credit cards to track our spending. We rarely, if ever have to write checks. However, as stated, we pay individuals who help around the house - maid, electrician, gardener, ect. - via check and guess never saw a problem doing so for our sitters. Again, mainly so there is a paper trail for how our money is being spent. Our checking account is tied to a bank credit card, so that there never is an issue with ISF (in case at some point we forgot to transfer founds from our primary account to our checking account). Our sitters have never complained about this method. If they haven't asked otherwise, should we assume they are fine with this method? In our case, there'd never be an ISF situation and for many other positions people get paid by check...

Nanny in Chicago said...

wondering...that is good that you are responsible for paying your nannies and I am sure you are nothing like the parents who pay by (bounced!) check. But unless there is another form of paper trail such as a log-in card that BOTH parties use in childcare, a nanny job is different than other types of employment in that they are getting paid by personal check as opposed to a check from a company. If you get a bad personal check it is harder to go after a family since banks usually do not want to get involved. They tend to penalize the recipient and it is up to the recipient to go after the person who wrote the bad check. And then they have penalties on their part such as bank fees, etc. even if they had no prior knowledge the check was bad. If the check was written in a huge amount, they may even be prosecuted since it may look like they were trying to forge a check. Sounds crazy, but banks do not know an honest person from a criminal. To avoid this hassle, I just accept cash. From a company I work for, of course there is no problem w/accepting a check. But it is a whole different story in a nanny job. The liability lies on the nanny unless there is other written proof that childcare services were provided. Because the other family could always say they don't know the nanny and then it would be up to the nanny to prove she worked for them. Extreme I know, but why take the chance??
Cash only for nanny work.

op said...

Thanks for all your advice. To Miss Mannah: I have gone to their houses. Several times and no one has answered the door.I have also reviewed them on Sittercity so that potential sitters can avoid this type of conflict. Thanks again everyone!

MissMannah said...

OP, I feel for you honey, I really do. Sucks that it happened but I'm glad you stuck it to them on sittercity!

To wondering..., a domestic employee is different from a one-time babysitter. Your employees don't complain about the checks because they know you're good for it.

Katlee85 said...

OP:

If they are refusing to go to the door, then go to the police. I know it seems extreme, but it's better then you getting stuck with the bounced check fees.

And think of the other sitters you may be helping in the future.

Always take cash only, unless you really, really know the family such as a family friend or close relative.

world's best nanny said...

Getting paid in cash is fine, but just make sure it is on the books.

lifesun said...

hey, long time stalker first time poster

Don't accept checks from new family's that's just smart.

Show up at their house once more on a weekend (when they are likely to be home) and say what miss mannah told you to then if they still aren't around I would soooo go to the cops.

Note to parents: please, for a nanny checks are fine for a babysitter no. that's etiquette

lifesun said...

oh ans TC. totally agree I used to work for a fam. who did the opposite "ooohh how much do I owe you?" and "ooh I actually don't have enough cash I'll pay you extra next time"

yeah. they never did in fact they pulled the stunt on me a couple times in a row sometimes. Also they would be out literally hours past the time they were supposed to without a call and then they would pay me up till the hour they were supposed to arrive.

which reeeeally angers me considering that they buy their less-than-well-behaved children presents EVERYDAY and everyone in the house owns a tempur pedic.

anyway after being bamboozeld by them (and a distant relative before that) I finally learned my lesson and am now not afraid to speak up about money matters. I earned it and I don't feel embarrassed to ask for what I earned anymore.

***If you get "how much do i owe you?" allot from a regular I suggest making up a pay chart so you can be like "well lets see I started at this time and its now this time so at ** an hour that would be."***

Erika said...

I see nothing wrong with only accepting cash. I ONLY accept cash and I haven't had any problems.

Most of the families I babysit for pay me up front. I hate having to ask for payment.