Bond cleaning business embroiled in dust-up
A FORMER model, TV journalist and businesswoman is the subject of a police investigation, amid claims she owes money to cleaners and customers, including a woman left devastated by the Townsville floods.
Natasha Borg has defended the business practices of her company Easy Vacate, which spruiks bond-cleaning services across Facebook community groups in major regional cities including Townsville, Mackay, the Gold Coast and as far south as Melbourne and country Victoria.
However, former clients who paid money upfront have told the Daily Mercury of problems, including cleaners not arriving, or cleaners leaving mid-job because of concerns they would not be paid by Easy Vacate.
Townsville nurse Nichole Doran said she paid Easy Vacate upfront for cleaning services, only for no one to show up at the scheduled time. She says she has heard a similar story from a woman who was devastated in February's floods.
"I was in the throes of packing up my house and put up a post asking if anyone was able to do a bond clean the following week," Ms Doran said.
"Natasha contacted me directly to say she would be available.
"Her profile looked professional, and when she asked for money upfront I was a bit hesitant."
Ms Doran agreed, and said Ms Borg initially quoted her $450 for a bond clean, but an emailed invoice asked for $823.80 including GST.
When she queried the higher invoice, she said she was told it was for carpet cleaning and pest control, despite Ms Doran having no carpeted rooms in her house.
"She then sent me an amended quote which also added GST which she's not supposed to do; the quote is meant to include GST," Ms Doran said.
"Once I paid the $522.50, she told me to make sure the keys were in the letterbox on the Friday (July 26) as cleaners would arrive at 9am. I was at the house from 7.30am onwards but no one ever showed.
"She then went to ground, ignoring Facebook and text messages and phone calls. I blocked my phone number on my phone and tried her and she immediately answered, saying she'd been trying to contact the cleaners and couldn't get hold of them."
Once she realised no one was going to show up, Ms Doran then had to book another local cleaner to complete her bond clean before she had to hand her keys back to her real estate agent, putting her further out of pocket.
"I sent her messages requesting a refund because no one showed by the deadline we had agreed upon, but they went ignored. She then had the audacity to reply and demand a $150 cancellation fee."
A text message from Ms Borg seen by the Mercury on the morning of July 30 told Ms Doran: "I've got cleaners heading to that house as we speak. If not needed no biggy."
After almost a month of trying to contact Easy Vacate to get her money back, it was only after queries from News Corp that Ms Borg contacted Ms Doran to offer her apologies and a full refund.
The $150 cancellation fee was waived.
Ms Borg told Ms Doran the reason she did not answer her phone calls or messages on Friday, July 26, was because she had to attend her father's funeral.
Townsville couple Melissa Gardner and Jason Detenon were in "desperate need" when they asked for cleaner recommendations on Facebook after their bond cleaner broke her arm and cancelled at the last minute.
Ms Borg sent Melissa a private message spruiking her services, again requesting payment in full before the cleaner was locked in.
"After the cleaners couldn't make it the day it was organised for, she sent a message to say the bathrooms were very dirty and they needed another 1.5 hours - we paid the extra money just to get it done," Ms Gardner said.
"That afternoon we went to check and walked through the house and nothing had been done, apart from the bathroom glass so it was started but nothing to justify the money already paid.
"I contacted the local cleaner who Natasha employed and she told me she had walked out because Natasha hadn't paid her for the previous clean."
Melissa and Jason say they are now $1000 out of pocket.
"We're building our new house and that money was sorely needed," Ms Gardner said. "We've had to find short-stay accommodation which is such a hard thing after the floods, so that money we were going to get back through our bond has been lost with no sign of seeing it again."
Ms Borg says she invited Melissa to send her an email about the quality of the clean, together with a condition report from the real estate agent, but she never received any further correspondence from Melissa. Ms Borg says the cleaner has been paid in full.
A Townsville contract cleaner, who declined to be identified, claims Ms Borg owes him about $1200 for two bond cleans he completed recently.
"It's taken me many hours of work to try and find a way to recover my money."
But Ms Borg says she did pay the cleaner "promptly upon the finalisation of (our) cooling-off period".
"(As with all) contractors we expect a seven-day cooling-off period be passed before payments are released," Ms Borg said.
"This is designed to encourage our contractors to uphold their agreement to return free of cost if the client or managing agent has an issue with the works conducted. This is in place to protect our clients."
Ms Borg apologised for the experience Ms Doran, Ms Gardner and the contract cleaner have had, and reiterated she had refunded money owed to Ms Doran following Mercury inquiries.
However, despite saying Ms Gardner's refund request was due to claims the contracted cleaner's work was not up to standard, she claims she paid the cleaner anyway at the end of the seven-day cooling-off period.
But Ms Gardner and the cleaner claim neither have been paid nor been able to contact Ms Borg for weeks.
Queensland Police have confirmed they are investigating the bond-cleaning company.
"The Queensland Police Service can confirm investigations are ongoing in relation to these matters. Anyone with information is urged to contact police," a spokeswoman said.
Busy Borg manages to juggle dizzying roles
BOND-cleaning business Easy Vacate is just one of six business names registered with ASIC under Natasha Borg's name.
Others include Rapunzel's Secret, which according to a YouTube clip featuring Natasha sells a hair-care product; Ethical World - with no apparent online presence - and Green Valley Beef, a nondescript farm that is spruiked via another YouTube channel featuring Natasha holding a GoPro telling viewers to "come see how Australia's happiest and cleanest cows are living in the beautiful 10,000 acre Queensland valley".
Ms Borg is also the registered owner of another business name based in Surfers Paradise called A Red Carpet Affair, which claims to work alongside the Cerebral Palsy Foundation urging other businesses to donate or allow them to assist in hosting raffles for the foundation.
A manager for the New York-based foundation told News Corp they had never been affiliated with A Red Carpet Affair.
Her official business page, featuring herself pictured in a branded white T-shirt, has been removed from Facebook, however Ms Borg has a number of online personalities spruiking Easy Vacate services on various community noticeboards around the country.
Pseudonyms include "Dee Parker", who advertises services for Easy Vacate in Mackay and Sarina community groups and whose profile photo actually belongs to an international speaker and business mentor based in Canada.
"Kelly Hutchens" is another person who advertises Easy Vacate cleaning services but whose profile seems to feature images of three entirely different women.
After the Bulletin asked why "Dee Parker" and "Kelly Hutchens" were spruiking services on behalf of her business, Ms Borg was adamant they "are not fake profiles".
"Like many professions; teaching, journalism etc people alter their Facebook profiles for privacy reasons. This is not uncommon and again designed to best protect the people we work with."