Baby Kingdom

I've recently had a customer criticize me in a public forum on the Internet. Many people have asked me about it, so instead of ignoring it (my personal preference) I have decided to address some of the issues raised.

First, let me begin by saying that we have never claimed "infallibility". We do make mistakes in assessing the abilities of people, and in matching people to families. Sometimes the helper is not a good match for the family, or perhaps, the helper is not as good as we thought. Sometimes the employer is not as kind as we thought. Every agency in Hong Kong, from the large chains to the small "mom and pop" business like ours will have a certain percentage of mismatches. At Arrow, we have gone to great lengths to reduce these occurrences, but they still occaisonally happen.

Mistakes in matching will occur. This is part of the business.  If you expect perfection, you have definitely come to the wrong agency.  I believe that how we handle mistakes says a lot about our character and the character of our company. When we make a mistake, we we admit it, and do our best to make amends. We go the extra mile in trying to make things right. We have sent our trainer to customer's homes to observe the helper's routine. We have had numerous young ladies into our home for cooking lessons. We make follow up calls and employers know they can call us anytime to discuss a problem they might have with their helper.   At Arrow, we  try our best to "get it right", and when we don't, we take responsibility for our mistakes.

When it comes to choosing a helper, it is vitally important you, the employer, KNOW YOURSELF, and your family. We do our best with the information you give us, but if you withhold information from us, or fail to consult your spouse or family in the hiring decision, please don't come back later and blame us.  In this public forum case, we never met the spouse, and the wife made the hiring decision without consulting her husband, who, as it turns out, did not like her choice of helpers.

Many people want "instant noodle" helpers. If you expect the helper to walk in, and within a few days to be fully functional, then you need to hire a person with recent Hong Kong or Singapore experience. Don't hire a first timer, and don't hire someone who worked in HK 10 years ago. If you hire a first timer or someone who hasn't been back to Hong Kong in a while, then you  need to give them time to adjust and learn to work according to your ways.

How long, after the helper arrives,  should you wait before deciding whether or not a helper is suitable for your family or not? Is a few days time enough? Even an experienced person may have some culture shock or have adjustment problems. Unless your helper is dishonest or dangerous, I personally think it is irresponsible for an employer not to give them at least a month or two to adjust and learn the job.  A few days is NOT enough time. 

We have a number of employers who come to Arrow looking to replace their helpers (hired from other agencies). They tell us their current helper is stubborn, lazy or even dishonest. When I ask them "how long has she worked for you?", I am surprised to hear "Six months or 9 months". I then ask "Why did you tolerate this so long?" and they tell me, "I knew she borrowed money to come to HK, and I wanted her to be able to pay off her debt first. I didn't want her to suffer financially."  I admire this kind of employer and I personally want to be more like them.  We have never claimed to have the "best helpers" in Hong Kong, (even though we have some pretty good helpers out there). We do, however, proudly claim to have the "best employers" in Hong Kong. 

Finally, I have been criticized for caring too much for the Filipino helpers. To this charge, I happily plead "guilty".  At Arrow we care about the people who find work through our agency, and we care about the families who hire workers through our company. Love is a "renewable resource". There is unlimited supply of love available in God. You needn't worry that by loving Filipino workers, we will then, not have any love left for Hong Kong employers. Does God care less for Filipinos than he does for Hong Kong people?  Would it surprise you to hear that Filipino helpers criticize me for standing on the side of employers and caring too much for employers?

For too many years, Hong Kong agencies have taken advantage of the poor, and Hong Kong employers have unknowingly aided and abetted them. We have tried to swing the pendulum back toward the middle, and we are considered "extreme".  I can live with that label. Jesus was "extreme", and was greatly concerned about the poor, so ... "why not?"   

We have intentionally marketed to "people of conscience", people who care about issues of fairness, human dignity and poverty. Although we have a reputation for having good, reliable "trustworthy" helpers, we don't expect everyone to respond to our approach to business.  We will continue to do our best to make sure our helpers are competent and trustworthy, but we cannot promise perfection. We do promise to do our best to "get it right" and if something goes wrong, we'll do our best to "make it right". What more can ask for?

Thanks for listening!    Allan