Of the dozens of sits we have done, I can only recall a couple where we were responsible for paying utilities. In these cases the HO did not state we would be responsible upfront.
They were in countries where costs were very low so when they mentioned how to handle payment of the bill we just let it slide and didn’t make a big thing of it. I didn’t attribute any bad intentions to them for not disclosing this. I think that just as we assumed it was natural for the HO to typically cover bills, they naturally assumed the opposite.
In our experience of dozens upon dozens of sits–with the exception of these two cases from quite awhile ago–if a HO doesn’t mention anything about utilities or other bills specifically in the listing or interview, then they are not expecting the sitter to handle them, and it isn’t even something we think to ask about.
In your instance, it sounds like she wasn’t initially expecting such a contribution but because another sitter offered, she thought perhaps it is something she could get a sitter to agree to.
And as for the recording, as someone who uses Zoom for my work, there is a setting to automatically record meetings so it is possible that is what happened there, and she wasn’t consciously choosing to record it for any particular reason.
That she seemed to be trying to guilt you into it is off putting and that would be more of a red flag for me than the sheer fact of asking.
Generally speaking, I don’t think sitters should be responsible for many of these costs because the HO would be paying them anyway, in a similar, or exact same amount, if they were there. But the idea the sitter is responsible isn’t outright wrong, it is just a different way of looking at the situation that most sitters probably don’t share.
Though in some instances I think it’s a reasonable request and a sitter can decide if it’s okay with them or not.
For example, if there is a HO who virtually never uses their air conditioning and is not accustomed to a large electricity bill, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to request the sitter contribute to the bill or cover it in full if they will be there longer term and are someone who wants to run it as much as they want to remain comfortable.
I recall interviewing for a sit awhile back where the HO stated they didn’t use the AC a lot, and I was very clear that I would be happy to contribute to the bill if we used it more frequently–the sit didn’t end up happening so not sure if she would have taken me up on that offer. It was a very hot climate and I wanted to be comfortable and not worry about whether I was using it too much.
I am not totally opposed to taking a sit where a HO would want us to cover costs, but of the sits that stand out in my mind where I have seen this request, these costs were always at least several hundred dollars a month and that wasn’t worth it to me.
Unless it was some really unique opportunity, I don’t see the need to spend that extra money when I could easily find another assignment where I wouldn’t be expected to pay anything.