Babysitter asks family to pay half of $840 bill after they cancelled last minute

‘If I had cancelled this close, they’d be reasonably pissed and screwed,’ she writes

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Sunday 23 April 2023 13:19 BST
Related: Mum secretly records daughter’s babysitter singing

A babysitter has sparked a debate after revealing that she asked a family who cancelled last minute to pay her half of the $840 she planned to charge for her services.

The woman recounted the story on Reddit’s AITA [Am I the a**hole] subreddit, where she goes by the username u/dancingqueengreen, and where she asked: “AITA for asking to be paid when a family cancelled?”

In the post, the babysitter revealed that, five months ago, she was asked by a friend of a friend to babysit her and her husband’s sons while they attended a wedding out of state. “She wanted me to stay three days, two nights,” the Reddit user wrote, adding that she babysits “a lot” to “supplement” her income.

The woman then broke down her typical babysitting fee, revealing that, for overnights, she usually charges her “usual rate for all waking hours” and then a “flat rate of $100 a 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,” she explained, adding: “Overall, the price for those three days was going to be $840.”

In the post, the woman then acknowledged that the cost is “a lot,” but that she considers babysitting a “luxury service” and that her experience and requirements also factor into the price she charges, as she “has 10 years of experience, is expected to clean, cook, and drive her kids places, as well as sleep at their house”.

“Unlike other jobs, I’m basically working three days straight,” she added.

According to the babysitter, when she first gave the quote to Claudia, the woman she’d be babysitting for, she’d had “sticker shock,” but ultimately realised it was the “cheaper option” after the price had been broken down for her and she’d “shopped around”.

At that point, the Reddit user said she requested off work for the babysitting job, despite not getting paid time off from her main job, as she said she “figured [she] was making more doing this than I would working three days at my other job”.

“I figured it’d be worth it,” she wrote.

The woman then revealed that, in the months leading up to the babysitting job, she babysat for the family so that she could get to know the children, and that most of her dealings had been with Claudia. However, at the end of a recent babysitting job for the family, she was paid by Claudia’s husband, Rick, who asked about the cost for the upcoming three-day babysitting job.

According to the babysitter, the father was “clearly uncomfortable” when she told him the cost, but still assured her that they’d “see her Friday”.

However, the woman said she received a text from Claudia the following morning cancelling her babysitting services, which meant that she is “out three days pay”.

“This morning, I got a text from Claudia saying: ‘Hey, so Richard’s decided he wants to take the kids to the wedding after all! We won’t need you.’ I checked with my job and they have no need for me this weekend as they found coverage. Basically, I’m out three days pay,” she wrote.

According to the Reddit user, in response to the last-minute cancellation, she told Claudia that she needed to pay her $480, the “minimum [she’d] make at work in those three days”. She said the mother declined the request and said she was being “ridiculous”.

“She told me I was being ridiculous and the whole point is they don’t feel it’s worth it to pay that much,” she continued. “I explained that I took the time off.”

In the post, the babysitter then noted that she and the family didn’t have a contract, “which in hindsight was stupid,” and that “legally they don’t have to pay” her, but that she feels that the right thing for the family to do is pay her.

“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,” she wrote, adding that her friend who’d recommended her to the family also said she was being “ridiculous”.

After revealing that she’d “pointed out that if [she’d] cancelled this close, they’d be reasonably pissed and screwed,” the woman concluded the post questioning whether she was wrong.

The post has since been upvoted more than 1,000 times, with Reddit users weighing in on the dilemma in the comments.

According to the majority of users, the babysitter was not wrong to ask for the money. However, many also acknowledged that it is unlikely she will receive the money she requested from the family due to the lack of a contract.

“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,” one person wrote. “However, without a written contract, I wouldn’t expect to get a dime from them.”

Another person said: “Going with NTA. That was super late notice to cancel and cost you three days wages. Also, never babysit for them again, even if they pay you. But don’t tell them that until they pay you. Also, if you’re in the know with sitters in their area, give them a heads up.”

However, others said that the babysitter is entitled to the money because she and the family had a “verbal agreement”.

“You did have a contract, it just wasn’t in writing. You’re NTA and should try to collect,” one person claimed, before suggesting that she use the situation as a “learning experience”.

“Treat this as a learning experience. In the future, if you have to take off work, ask for 50 per cent deposit up front. Maybe have a receipt that specifies ‘non-cancellable,’” they added.

According to someone else who assured the babysitter that she was not in the wrong, she should take additional precautions moving forward. “I’ve done gig work and what has worked for me in the past is to have them pay in full or in part but always in advance with a refund policy that states a deadline by which a full refund is given but steps up to no refund as the notice gets closer to ‘no’ notice,” they wrote, adding: “I only adapted after trial and error; I’m sorry for your hassle.”

Although the majority of readers sided with the babysitter, one person claimed that both parties were wrong, as the family shouldn’t have cancelled late, while the sitter should have given them a “timeframe they needed to cancel by”.

“I understand being angry that they cancelled so late, but you also didn’t give them a timeframe 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,” they wrote.

According to child care resource Sittercity, the average hourly rate of nannies, who “typically work on a full-time or set schedule basis,” in 2023 is $20 an hour, while the national typical hourly rate of babysitters, who “often work part-time or on an occasional basis for several families at a time,” is $18.50.

However, the website notes that cost can increase depending on multiple factors, such as number of children, certifications, additional responsibilities, special occasions and travel and expenses.

As for whether babysitters should be paid even if their services are no longer required, many parenting websites argue that families should pay at least a portion of what they would have if they had not cancelled.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in