We’ve all seen the ad’s.  They promised to clean all of the carpeting in your home for less than half of what most reputable carpet cleaning companies charge.  In many cases they advertise on Craigslist or in the coupon books “Five Rooms of Carpet Cleaning for under $60.00” or “Tile and Grout Cleaning For 50% Discount” and they’ll even throw in FREE sealer while they’re at it.    We’ve even seen ads touting “Just Try to Beat My Prices” or carpet cleaning for just $9.95 a room (and of course “deep scrub” is extra).  Sound too good to be true?  Well, it probably is!

To make matters worse, when and if they finally show up — in a beat-up truck with no company identification, and hop out in torn jeans and a soiled tee-shirt, you realize it:  what have I gotten myself into?

Also be very leery of a company who expects to be paid in cash – up front – before completing the cleaning process.  If you’re not satisfied with their cleaning results and you’ve already paid them in cash what recourse do you have?

What is bait-and-switch?

A bait-and-switch scam works like this:  a company advertises cleaning a roomful of carpet or tile for a ridiculously low price.  When they arrive, they inform you the price they advertise is only for carpeting that doesn’t require a “deep scrub.”  Of course, they’ve never seen carpeting that didn’t require the higher priced “deep-scrub” method and their low ball price doesn’t include moving of basic furniture or pre-spotting.

You should also beware of companies offering $9.95 per room “steam cleaning specials.”   They’ll happily “steam clean” your carpeting however if you want them to use detergents, that’ll cost you extra.  Carpet or tile cleaning without cleaning agents is like taking a bath with no soap.  So you agree to pay extra for chemicals (because you are thankful someone FINALLY showed up) and the final bill can end up costing you hundreds of dollars.

Another typical scam is a company will clean a set amount of rooms for a very low price (like 5 rooms for $60.00).  After they begin, you discover that a linen closet, hallway, foyer, or regular closet constitutes a room, and you wind up paying a lot more than you thought you would.

Bait-and-switch scams in SW Florida are especially targeted at the elderly, who are more likely to trust someone who “promises” to give them a good deal and are intimidated by high-pressure tactics.

“Professional” carpet cleaning technicians should arrive in a vehicle with company identification on it.  They should also wear a professional uniform, be well groomed and provide some sort of identification (business or certification card).  If they look more like the man described at the beginning of this story, do not let them in.

So how can you avoid a bait-and-switch scam?

The best protection against bait-and-switch is to be informed of carpet cleaning processes before the cleaner arrives at your home.  Call several cleaning agencies and inquire about their process.  If the company cannot answer simple questions, move on to another cleaning company.  Price alone should not be a reason to choose a carpet cleaning company.  Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

What questions should you ask?

◾Are you certified in carpet, rug or upholstery cleaning?

◾How many years has your company been in business (the longer, the better)?

◾Is this company rated by Angie’s List or the Better Business Bureau?  (Verify online)

◾Is the company a member of a professional cleaning trade association (IICRC, CRI, etc.)?

◾What steps will be included in your cleaning process?

◾What kind of chemicals will you use?

◾How long will it take for the carpet to dry?

◾Visit their website for more information about their company and processes.

◾Are they licensed and insured?

Once you’re questions have been answered and you select a company to clean your carpets, tile or upholstery, remember that you still have the final word.  A thorough cleaning should include the following, and if it doesn’t, demand the cleaners leave your home.

Watch for:

◾Technician should inspect your carpeting and provide you with a quote in writing before cleaning

◾All spots should be pre-treated at no cost to you

◾All carpeting to be cleaned should be pre-conditioned at no additional cost to you

◾Included in the cost of the cleaning should be a conditioner at no additional cost

◾Upon completion the technician should all you to inspect all rooms before settling invoice

◾The technician should offer fabric protection to extend the life of your carpeting

◾Take steps to ensure drying in a reasonable time.

All professionally trained cleaning companies should adhere to the IICRC – Cleaning Standards and follow the steps listed above.

The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) and many carpet manufacturers require or at least recommend professionally cleaning your carpet every 12 to 18 months. Having a trained, certified technician clean your carpet is important, not only for your peace of mind, but also for maintaining and extending the life of your carpet.  Another important fact to keep in mind is that many major carpet mills will NOT warranty your carpet if non-certified technicians or companies are used.

Tru Clean is a family owned environmentally responsible carpet, tile and upholstery cleaning company and all of our technicians are certified by the world’s most respected certification body for textile professionals.

Tru Clean is an A+ rated company with the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List and are an approved service provider by The Carpet & Rug Institute (CRI) and a Certified Firm by The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC).

Protect yourself from unscrupulous carpet, tile and upholstery cleaning companies.  Verify the company’s reputation through the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List or through referrals from your family or friends.

For more information about Tru Clean and how you can protect yourself from bait and switch carpet cleaning companies please visit us online at www.trucleansurfacecare.com or call us any time at 239-541-4888 – Cape Coral – Fort Myers – Sanibel – Lee County 239-206-1935 – Bonita Springs, Naples and Marco Island or 941-621-2198 – Punta Gorda.