Most professional carpet cleaners are respectable and legitimate businesses that will provide high quality carpet care at a reasonable price. As with every type of business, there are always a few unscrupulous business operators that will look to take advantage of the average homeowner and can ruin it for all of the other legitimate service providers. Some of these underhanded businesses will cheat you on the quality of the cleaning they perform or on the type and quantity of chemicals they use. Many of them will use the age-old bait and switch technique to lure you in with a price that is hard to resist, only to change the deal when they arrive for the appointment.
It is important to stress that these types of carpet cleaning companies are in the minority and you may never have to deal with one, but it’s important to recognize some of the ways you may fall victim to their swindles.
The basic bait and switch occurs when the company originally gives you an estimate either over the phone or in a coupon sent to your home and then starts to change the price when they arrive at your home to do the work. The reason many of these frauds work is that the homeowner has already made arrangements to spend the day cleaning the carpet and re-scheduling the appointment with another company is a lot of work or they may be moving out of the premises the same day and cannot call another company due to time restraints. They may choose to just pay the higher price and avoid wasting the day.
There are many ways that a bait and switch operator can swindle you and the most common one is under-quoting a job. This can start as a flyer sent to you through the mail that offers to clean a number of rooms in your home for a reasonable price. Seeing this, many homeowners are attracted to the low price and don’t realize that the “typical” room described in the flyer is much smaller than even the smallest room in their home. This means the operator will arrive for the appointment and explain to the homeowner that one of the rooms they were intending to clean was larger than the offer specified and actually counts as two rooms. They may also charge more for irregular shaped rooms or hallways, even though the square footage is under the size specified in the ad. This is an easy problem to avoid as you can check when setting up the appointment. Ask the company what they consider to be a typical room size and if they charge extra for irregular shaped rooms. Most companies won’t charge more, and if they do it might be a good idea to keep searching for a company.
Another common technique is charging extra for the cleaning chemicals needed for cleaning the carpet or more commonly called “pre clean” The ad may offer a good price for the cleaning, but not include the actual chemical cleaners that are needed or the machinery needed to work them in the carpet.These chemicals and machinery can be fairly expensive and may actually double the price that was advertised. A good way to avoid this scam is to ask the carpet cleaning company specifically what is included with the price. This way there is no confusion when they arrive to start cleaning.
Up-selling a customer is another common bait and switch technique used to justify a higher price for the basic cleaning. The way this trick usually works is that a higher price than the advertised price is offered to the homeowner for a more thorough cleaning. They may characterize this as a dual-pass cleaning or some other term used to make it seem more complete. In most cases they are doing the same cleaning job they would have done with the basic cleaning, they just make it sound better. To avoid falling into this trap simply ask the company to explain the differences between the basic and upgraded cleaning they are offering you. There are legitimate cleaning techniques that are more involved that a company can offer you like a multi stage cleaning process and a responsible company can easily explain the difference.
Some companies will try to justify the higher cleaning price by offering to “throw in” a carpet protection treatment like as part of the cleaning. If you hear this, it’s a good indicator of them trying to scam you. The reason is that most protection treatments add cost to a cleaning because the chemicals needed to professionally treat a carpet for stain protection are expensive. There is no way that this can be given away for free since these chemicals cost the cleaning company a good amount of money to provide. A legitimate cleaner will offer you a price for the cleaning and a second price for the carpet protection application. This way you can see exactly what the cost of each will be in advance of making your decision.
Most of these bait and switch scams can be avoided by applying a little common sense. If a price is a lot lower from one carpet cleaning company, it might be a bait and switch problem for you so make sure you understand what’s included with the price. Try and use established carpet cleaners that have been around for a while so you know they have a good track record of satisfied customers. These established companies will normally offer discounts and special offers from time to time and these can allow you to get a great price on the cleaning, and know that you have gotten your money’s worth as well.