Adverts such as this look too good to be true, and they are.
Most carpet & upholstery cleaning companies are legitimate, trained professionals who will offer a first class high quality service at a fair price and strive to meet the needs of their customers every step of the way. However, as in all public services there will always be a small percentage of unscrupulous operators who’s way of doing business is to take advantage of the unwary homeowner by offering a deal thats ”too good to be true” only to arrive and increase the cost due to additional hidden charges such as ”the cost quoted was for a basic clean and you need a deeper clean”, ”you need extra chemicals that will increase the cost”, ”those stains will incur an additional charge”, ”theres a diiference in room size” and so on. This technique or scam is known as ”bait and switch”.
When the customer is ”baited” with a low cost carpet or upholstery cleaning service, the operator turns up on the day with the knowledge that the customer may have made special arrangements to be at home and it’s too late or inconvenient to make other arrangements, then takes the oportunity to ”switch” the service offered to a more expensive one.
Another problem with this scam is that these unscrupulous businesses are often run from many miles away and the work is dished out from an office or call center to local operators with perhaps little training or long term experience and possibly no insurance. These may be the people who are tasked with the cleaning of your valuable home furnishings. Because of the lack of cohesion or communication between the office, operator and customer, these operators often turn up late or not at all.
How to avoid being ripped off by a carpet cleaning bait and switch scam.
What to look for.
Very low prices: You may have bought an item or service for a very low cost in the past only to find it was not what you expected. This is a time to reflect. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
Pushy salesmen: Once the operator arrives at your home, they may want to upsell and add on as much as possible to increase the job ticket and will use intimidation and hard sell tactics to do so. Clarify that there are no additional charges or extras for chemicals, ”a deeper clean rather that a basic one” and stain removal. Also check if there is VAT to be added to the cost.
Quotes are given by room, rather than area: A company may bait & switch you by offering a deal of price per room no matter what the size is. Room sizes can vary hugely and the time taken to clean them can vary a lot. This can be used later to say ”you didn’t indicate the room was 25 foot long instead of 12 foot long”, so the price is doubled.
Check out independant reviews: Check the reviews on the company web site first. Check to see if they have reviews from local varifiable sources such as local commercial trading companies. If the reviews come from all over the country it could be an indication of a bait and switch or scam company.
Check out the BBC video below
Use some basic common sense. Below is a screen shot of a price that doesn’t exist. Consider that the cost of running a carpet cleaning company costs thousands a year in fuel, chemicals, equipment and insurance. It may take 30 minutes travel time for the operator to get to your home, so a round trip would be one hour not including the time spent on the job. At this price he or she would be running a business at below the minimum wage.
Again, the price seems too good to be true. A 2 bedroom house could take say perhaps 2 to 4 hours plus travel time of of say 1 hour.
The question to ask here is, do they intend to be in and out of the house in an hour and disregard any stains or problems or charge an inflated price to cover the time it really should take.
Search for Testimonials and Reviews of the company.
You may want as good a professional job as possible at a reasonable price. Scimping or or looking for the cheapest deal can lead to disappointment and could cause undue and un needed stress. If you have no friends or colleagues that can recommend a local carpet and upholstery cleaning company, do a search for independant reviews.
Many companies use Trustpilot. In my opinion Trustpilot could be manipulated by the company owner to show in their favour by posting their own reviews. Many reviews I have seen on this site seem to be written by the same hand when I have done some research.
It’s worth noting that if you see one or two slighly negative reveiws of a company it may not necessarily mean it’s a bait and switch company. Not everything goes according to plan and a company may get a negative review for a reason out of his or her control or a customers expectations wern’t quite met. Even very good companies may get a negative review but in the long run reviews will give a general idea how a company performs.
Google Places seem to be more trustworthy for reviews and many local businesses use this for testimonials. To use Google Places, type into your browser ”Company Name Google Reviews”.
Do a little research
An example of Google reviews from a company that advertises very low prices.
Oposite are some Google reviews of a national company that advertises localy.
This company is based far from the locality and as can be seen they have been inflating the price when turning up, dissapointing work, not turning up on time or not turning up at all and making lame excuses. There is even one review from another local carpet cleaning company who has had phone calls by people let down by the company and mentions an elderley lady who had all furniture moved and no one turned up.
Bait and switch is a fraudulent practice. The BBC Rogue Traders has also investigated one company that carries out this technique.
Enterprise cold-calls its customers and offers to clean two carpets for £8.99, an offer that seems too good to turn down. However, when the Enterprise technician arrives they are interested in selling you a more expensive service, as a number of our viewers found out.
Alison Hughes wanted her living room sofa and chairs cleaned – so when she got a leaflet from Enterprise dropped through her door offering to clean furniture for a low, low price of £29.95, she decided to give them a call. Mrs Hughes had taken the bait and when the Enterprise cleaner arrived, it was time for the switch.