Beware of Bait-and-Switch Offers

Mailboxes and airwaves are full of carpet and duct cleaning companies that make offers that sound too good to be true. “Get a Whole House Carpet Cleaning for $69!” “We’ll Clean All Your Air Ducts for Only $49.95!” Well, as with most things that sound too good to be true, they are.

Things have gotten so bad that even consumer advocates on TV are hauling disreputable outfits in front of the camera to explain why the lady who called them out with a discount coupon ended up being charged SIX TIMES MORE THAN THE ADVERTISED PRICE!

Phil Dreesen, owner of A Personal Touch carpet and duct cleaning services in Littleton, Colorado, decided to prove that these claims were bogus when one of his long-time customers confronted him with a coupon she had received in the mail. “She asked me why she should pay A Personal Touch $300 to clean her carpets when another company said they’d do it for $60,” Dreesen says. “That sounded phony to me, so I decided to do some investigative work of my own.”

Dreesen collected coupons from three heavily-advertised carpet and duct cleaners and gave each a call. “I used my customer’s situation as my benchmark,” Dreesen says. “I had cleaned her carpets regularly for several years and knew exactly how many square feet needed cleaning. I told her I’d call around and if I found someone who would do it for less, I’d refund her the difference.”

When the other companies answered the phone, the person taking the call confirmed their low price and asked to set an appointment. But Dreesen knew better. “I told them I wanted to talk to someone who would give me a guaranteed price based on the work I wanted done,” he says. “And I told them that I wouldn’t pay a penny more than the quote they gave me. That got their attention, and I was directed to a person higher up, usually the owner.”

Without exception, every company Dreesen spoke with came back with a firm price that was comparable to his or higher.

Duct cleaning scams are even worse and have gotten bad enough that Colorado Attorney General John Suthers filed a lawsuit against several companies claiming that they not only cheated people out of money, but did such a shoddy job that customers could actually get sick from the poor quality work.

In an interview with CBS4Denver, Suthers said, “It starts out as a classic bait-and-switch.” He says the companies advertised duct cleaning for $35 and then charged up to $1,000.

The recent floods in Colorado have only added to the problems consumers face. According to the CBS4 report, the attorney general’s office and the Better Business Bureau received more than 230 about the companies that led to the investigation and subsequent lawsuits.

“I’ve been in the cleaning business for over 30 years,” A Personal Touch’s Dreesen says, “and I know what good quality service should cost. It’s bad enough that these fly-by-night operators are making reputable companies look bad,” he adds, “but what really gets me is the personal harm they do to innocent people. My customer is a lady who doesn’t have the resources or energy to fight these scammers. I’m just glad I was able to show her the truth before it cost her a lot of money and heartache.”

As for Dreesen’s customer, she couldn’t be happier or more relieved that she didn’t fall victim to a scam and tells Dreesen she will continue to be a loyal customer of A Personal Touch.

Carpet cleaning services are largely unregulated, and shoddy work may not only make matters worse, but can also invalidate a carpet’s warranty. Poor duct cleaning can lead to significant health problems for customers who have asthma and other respiratory conditions. That’s why Dreesen is proud that A Personal Touch has an A+ rating and has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau for over 15 years.

A Personal Touch Cleaning Services has a motto that Dreesen and his staff adhere to on every job: “We Don’t Cut Corners, We Clean Them.”

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