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[February 09, 2014]
Clean as a whistle [Global Times]
(Global Times Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Users can choose an ayi based on her rating. Photo: Li Hao/GT Wang Hongye, 33, had worked as a daytime nanny for five years, but she wanted to make extra money by cleaning houses in her leisure time. So she decided to register with 1jiajie, a Beijing-based housekeeping service company. They told her that they would create a simple profile for her to be displayed on their smartphone app, and that she could expect to receive calls directly from prospective clients, who would pay her a flat rate of 30 yuan ($4.95) per hour. Scrolling through the profiles on the 1jiajie app, one can choose an ayi based on her photo, her age, how far she lives from you, or how highly other customers have rated her.After registering last December, Wang quickly landed several cleaning jobs. In the two weeks before the Chinese New Year, Wang was hired for six gigs. In fact, she was willing to work on Chinese New Year's Eve. That day, Wang slipped on disposable shoe coverings as she stepped into Zhou Yiqi's residence in Pingod Apartments in Chaoyang district. Zhou, a white-collar professional, has little time for cleaning, and sometimes her workload is so overwhelming that she allows her 47-square-meter dwelling to become a mess. On the recommendation of her friends, she downloaded the 1jiajie app - and was surprised to find that she would not have to relay her cleaning instructions through 1jiajie dispatchers. "I hate explaining what I need to the agents, because misunderstandings result when they paraphrase my words to an ayi," Zhou said. "It was such a relief to communicate directly to the ayi that I desperately needed a clean kitchen and bathroom." The 1jiajie app, launched last June, was the brainchild of a 29-year-old engineer named Yun Tao. His previous project, an app called Dudu Taxi Service, had run into some obstacles from governmental policy, but as he found himself having repeated arguments with his wife about the cleanliness of their house, he suddenly saw a new opportunity. "My annoying conflicts about cleaning were the epiphany for me to develop the program," Yun said. "Because our clients are mostly young couples or single ladies, I prefer to recruit ayi in the age range of 30 to 45, to have fewer problems with communication," he said.
Smartphone apps have made it easier than ever to hire a reputable housekeeper or nanny. Photo: IC 1jiajie is not the only smartphone option for finding an ayi. Ayilaile.com, a company with seven years of experience in providing housekeeping services, has their own app that specializes in listings of live-in nannies; their profiles include not only each ayi's photo and age but also her educational background, licenses (e.g. childcare, driver's license), home province, ethnicity, zodiac sign, and hobbies.These apps would seem to present a win-win situation for ayi, the agency and customers alike, but Wang isn't completely satisfied. She would prefer to have some say in who her clients are. "If I get a phone call and I am available, I have to take the job," she said. "Even if the client is a single man, it is my duty to ignore certain potential risks and do the job."Because the apps encourage the clients and the ayi to interact directly, they have also elicited concerns from some users about security - for example, the potential risk of theft. But Zou Xiaozhou, 33, a partner at Ayilaile, doesn't view this as a problem."When recruiting an ayi, we check her identification and background as meticulously as possible," said Zou, adding that in the past seven years, his company has encountered no reports of anything unexpected happening.
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