The Carpet Clean Scheme – Bait and Switch Sales Tactics
A wise man once said, “If it seems too good to be true, than it probably is,” and this adage is no more useful than in the highly competitive world of professional carpet cleaning. In efforts to maximize their advertising dollar and generate more profit for their bottom line, many unethical carpet-cleaning companies will utilize “bait and switch” and “demonstration” tactics to try to weasel you out of your hard earned money. While it is important to take care of your investment in your home, it is also important to understand and recognize when a carpet cleaning “professional” is trying to take you to the cleaners.
- “Bait and Switch.” As the name implies, many carpet cleaning companies will utilize this tactic to try and “upsell” you on some services that are not included in their advertised prices. For instance, if a carpet cleaning advertisement promises deals for $9.95 a room for “basic deep steam cleaning,” you can expect just that, a basic deep steam cleaning. This means that for $9.95 the company is only going to “treat” your carpet with hot water, no chemicals, no cleaning agents, they won’t even vacuum your carpet before they begin. If you’ve been unlucky enough to welcome one of these companies into your home, you’ll undoubtedly be bombarded with charges for “additional” services like “expert stain removal,” “flea and tick treatment,” “deep steam with shampooing.” Even worse, some carpet cleaning companies will perform their services and charge you AFTER completion, leaving you with a bill much higher than you expected. If you happen to be moving out of your apartment or home, your truncated schedule can force you into paying for the carpet clean.
- “Demonstration” cleaning is another tool carpet cleaning companies will utilize to cheat you out of your money. In this scenario, a company will come into your home and offer to “demonstrate” their cleaning services. Most often, they will pick a spot in the middle of the room and show you how effective their carpet cleaning method is. The technician might even clean a couple of different areas of your carpet to “demonstrate” how more expensive “add ons” can get your carpet even cleaner. However, should you decide NOT to pay for their services, you’re left with clean spots in the middle of your room. In most instances, customers will opt to have the company clean the entire room or house at this point and pay through the nose for the service.
How can you protect yourself from these underhanded schemes? Here are a couple of tips to help you navigate the high-pressure world of carpet cleaning sales:
- Do your research. Spend some time on the carpet cleaners’ website. Check to see if they have reviews on Yelp, Angie’s List, or if they have positive feedback on their Facebook page. If the company has a history of negative reviews and comments, you’d do well to steer clear of them.
- Check to see if the business is registered with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or if the company has an Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). In most cases, companies that invest in these relationships and certifications have been in business long enough to establish best practices in the industry.
- Spend some time on the phone with the company. Ask them EXACTLY what is included in the price they’ve quoted you. If they can’t provide you with a stable estimate or price, ask why. If they say that they need to “see” your home before they can quote you a price you should be wary. Carpet cleaning isn’t rocket science, and if they are a reputable company that’s been in the business long enough, they will be able to provide you a price over the phone.
- Once your carpet cleaner arrives at your home, make sure to go over the price or invoice with them BEFORE they begin the job. This will prevent “upcharges” and “hidden fees” down the road. If they baulk at the price you were quoted over the phone, feel free to ask them to leave and call someone else.
Remember, these companies are in business to serve YOU. Don’t be afraid to listen to that little voice inside your head. If you feel uncomfortable with a company, move on to the next. And if you think a deal is too good to be true… well, it probably is…