Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cost of having maid (or helper) in Singapore

Reason for having maid (or helper) in Singapore
Before talking about the cost for having a maid in Singapore, for most households (not the rich and spoilt type), let us delve into the reason for having a maid first.

1. There is no grandparent, and both parents are working, hence no one to take care of a child (or children). For most Singaporeans, there is no problem with having grandparents at home looking after children, but for some Singaporeans or PRs, having a grandparent at home is a luxury. An alternative would be to sacrifice the mother's career and ground her to being full time housewife.

2. Sicked and disabled elderly, with working adults out of the house during weekdays. If the sons are working and at least one is married, a daughter in law can take care of the elderly (unless she is working as well). An alternative would be to sacrifice someone's career and ground him/her at home taking care of the elderly (without compromising the cost of medical bill).

There are other reasons as well, but these two reasons are the most important and justified for having a maid at home. In my opinion, levy should not be imposed on households having these two valid reasons for having maid at home.

Cost (or budget) for having a maid at home
It irks me seeing people discussing that maids salary is very low and the salary should be revised and increased (without paying any consideration for the maid's employer). Cost of having a maid is much higher than most people come to realize.

As of 2012
Maid salary = S$430/mo (maid loan is deducted from here and an upfront amount is required by agency)
Maid levy = S$265/mo
Agency fee = S$500/transaction (average) (equiv. to S$20.80/mo)
Maid insurance & bond = S$325/2 years (equiv. to S$13.50/mo)
Bed/mattress = S$150/maid (equiv. to S$6.25/mo)
Food/toiletries = S$270/mo (if you don't cook at home often)
Total sum = S$984.75/mo

Do you think this is the cost of getting a maid? If so, you are wrong. We haven't factored in the accommodation cost for a maid living with us. If we can rent out the room a maid occupy, following a market rate this year (plus water and electrical bills waived), it costs S$300/room (minimum) to S$500/room depending on location.

Grand total of having a maid in Singapore = S$1284.75/mo to S$1484.75/mo. That amount is more than some of my relatives earn per month without over-time (OT). The S$430/mo "basic salary" can be considered savings after "expenditure" (in other word, the maid don't have to use the S$430/mo for her stay in Singapore unless she goes shopping (or for phone bill) or remit the money home).

Summary: It is not easy financially and mentally for having a maid at home for most "average" households. We lose our savings and our privacy. It is only due to our basic needs (care for infant/elderly with no other person at home), that we compromised. It is a shame Singapore still lack affordable basic care services for infants/elderly and that most offices still don't encourage mothers to continue their careers by providing a childcare in their vicinity.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fakes in Ebay. Is there anything you can do about it?

Fakes are sometimes blessings, while other times - they might just kill you. Some people like to buy fakes while others clueless-ly bump into fakes. There are fake medicines, batteries, jerseys, watches etc. Believe it or not, the first two can kill you!

As we go for shopping, we tend to let our guard down (which is forgivable), when we are in respectable shopping malls. We are more alert when we shop for stuff in a night market (or "pasar malam" in Malay). The latter is a place of bargain and also full of fakes. But how about ebay??

Let's see, ebay is a place where everyone can be a seller and vice versa a buyer. Ebay is just a virtual venue for people to gather and look up for stuff and make a deal when everything is okay. Money is transferred and item sent afterwards. A hassle-free transaction I would say. Ebay earns from the sellers most of the time and sellers are eager to list in ebay because there are just lots of buyers registered with ebay. Imagine a market place with plenty of buyers waiting for sellers to list their items! What would go wrong??

Unlike conventional market place, buyers don't have the advantage to check the item(s) before purchase. All is not lost though, ebay came up with "feedback score" to guide buyers into deciding which seller is trustworthy (based on reviews by previous buyers). Ebay also provide a platform to resolve issues regarding unpaid items, returns, undelivered items etc... but with limitations (see below).

(1) Limited time for lodging a complain/case. To report/lodge a case, buyers have to do so within 45 days.
(2) There is no revision of reviews/feedbacks after first review (unlike android marketplace). Once you give 5stars, there is no turning back - even when your item breaks down, explode or killed you after several weeks later. For sellers who sell goods that breaks after a month, you can't do anything about it. There is no way to warn other would-be buyers as well.
(3) Review/feedback option is only there for limited time. If you decide to wait before feedback/review, you have to make sure you post the review before the "expiry date" or else, you won't get to input your review. How is it possible for buyers to review items at limited time? What if you bought a seed for a flower and start planting it to find out that after 2 months, the flower is not the one you asked for?? Or a battery to a camcorder explodes on your face after few weeks or several times of recharging?
(4) Tolerance for fakes. Ebay seems to tolerate sellers selling fakes. There is no option to report against sellers selling fakes. Beware then, if you are buying toys for children, you might be killing your babies. If you fancy an electronic item, it might kill you with a shock of your life.

As for me, I have learnt my lesson. Fortunately, I didn't have to spend a fortune or my life to learn that ebay is just another "pasar malam" worthy to be alert about. Ebay is just a place full of big bargain alongside fakes and shits. If you want to shop stress free, then visit Amazon or B&N and the likes. If you want a bargain, risk getting one and hope it's not a fake.