The cleaning service is not without its issues. There has been mission creep, partly our fault, partly miscommunication between the woman who spec-ed the job and the woman who actually does the work. However, I didn't put my foot down and define the task until T., who does the work, was sick for months, missing about a quarter (what _is_ it with me and a 25% absenteeism rate?) of her weekly visits. I didn't doubt that she was sick, but I asked for a replacement. I _loved_ the replacement, but the service fired her for failing to show up on the Wednesday before T-weekend for clients she says she didn't even know about. *shrug* I gave T. another try, and to make it work better for all of us, I sat down and worked out the actual job details with R. This reduced the amount of work dramatically and focused it on the things we cared about but did not want to do ourselves (kitchen, bathrooms, vacuuming). Side effects include: the vacuuming is actually reliably completed; the hours billed has dropped by 1; T. is out before noon consistently.
Then for Xmas, I asked for one of the Roombas which is safe to use on tassel-ed area rugs. It took us a while to get it up and running (nothing against Roomba, we're just not that Quick in some ways). Then there were scheduling issues (R. set it to go off at 10 a.m., and that's when I walk with M. and often her dog P. Neither is okay with the robot, so once we get back, it has to be shut off, limiting its utility; the solution was to schedule it to 11 a.m., which R. did). Finally, this long weekend of Nemo, the kids became obsessed with the Robot Vacuum (previously, they were freaked out by it), and I figured out the right amount of furniture to get out of its way and we've been running it a ton.
(1) Initially, its ability to clean is limited by the size of its bin. You have to run it often, and clean it out often, until you hit some kind of homeostasis. We don't have pets, so it isn't too bad. If you had a big house and/or big shedding issues, you might want to get more than one of these.
(2) You do have to watch where it gets into trouble, to figure out which furniture you need to move and which you can safely leave alone. I do what restaurants do at night: pick up the chairs and turn them over seat down onto the table surface. Oooops. Should clean that surface first. Right. Along with a couple of footstools, a dollhouse and a couple other odds and ends, that's about it. The worst is the kitchen stools, because they are really heavy and they have swivels. Gotta be careful.
(3) The whole picking up process will encourage you not to leave things lying about. This is a good thing.
I've become convinced that once you catch up, this thing is actually better than a "regular" vacuum, and by better, I mean the 7 series is better than a mid-range Miele. There are corners that the Roomba doesn't reach; I've taken to using one of the extendo dry swiffer devices to get those, because it's faster than getting out the canister and attachments. I also think the swiffer is more comprehensive in a small area.
This leaves me with an interesting problem. I think I could replace the vacuuming portion of the cleaning service with the Roomba, with the exception of the kitchen/hall/downstairs lav, which we also have her mop. You have to vac before mopping, otherwise it's just a pointless exercise in frustration. But I'm now thinking I'll rework the task list, and have T. switch over to doing dusting (which I've been doing when I feel like it, which isn't very often), rather than vacuuming the rest of the house. The downside to having T. do the dusting is that she tends to use papertowels. I'm going to have really insist on swiffer, because I fucking _hate_ having to go around the house and pick bits of stuck paper towel off the corners of all the picture frames. Which often still have dust on them anyway.
If you're sitting there going, hey, why don't you get a [insert green tech of choice] duster instead, I'm working on it. I can't tolerate feather dusters, and using rags is less effective than swiffer on delicate/ridged/complex surfaces and it is disruptive on movable surfaces (hanging pictures).