A serious shock to local parents and caregivers when an online babysitting website suddenly suspended business. Sitters say they’re owed tens of thousands of dollars for unpaid work, and parents who prepaid for services could be out money too.
“It was a great system. It’s really a shame,” Kippy Dalton said of Wondersitter.
The San Francisco-based company also operates in Seattle, connecting families with sitters, who have undergone vetting and background checks. Wondersitter then collects a referral fee, plus more than 10 percent from babysitters’ earnings.
On June 8, Wondersitter workers and parents received emails reading: “Wondersitter books are suspended until further notice. We are very sorry for the inconvenience.”
“I wrote her back and said, ‘inconvenience’? What about the $3400 owed to me? This is awful,” Dalton said. The Shoreline woman is a substitute teacher but has supplemented her income working for Wondersitter for the last three years. She says the company now owes her for about 200 hours of babysitting.
She says more than a year ago, the company switched payment methods and began falling behind on its payments.
“It was ugly,” Dalton said when she was not paid for six weeks right before Christmas last year. “Since then, I’ve never had a zero balance, but I thought they’d figure it out. I was too trusting.”
Dalton is not the only one. On Facebook, sitters from Seattle to Baltimore started a spreadsheet of how much they’re owed. So far, they’re claiming close to $70,000.
“I had a pretty in-depth conversation with Candice, and she was very reassuring, letting me know that they were taking care of it and they didn’t want to lose me. I felt like I was heard,” Mountlake Terrace’s Christina Beeson said.
Beeson is a social worker by day but has worked for Wondersitter on weekends for the last four years to supplement her income.
“They owe me almost $1400 at this point,” Beeson said. “I’d like everybody’s who’s worked to be paid for their work.”
Following her attorney’s advice, she is sending letters of demand.
Messages seeking comment have been left at Wondersitter’s headquarters and on Seattle partner Candice Vleugel, have yet to be returned.