How To Identify & Avoid Carpet Cleaning Rip-Offs And Scams

Rip-off #1: Unbelievable Low Price

To some degree, all of us are attracted by low price because we want to work within a budget. But some carpet cleaners use price as the bait for their false and misleading advertising. They offer a cheap price – usually between $60.00 and $80.00per room – and then, once you’ve taken off work and moved out all of your furniture, come into your home and insist that you’re going to need all of these “add-ons”. It’s as if you were buying a car and found that the dealer was charging you extra for the tires and steering wheel. These are the guys who argue that you need soil-protection, then spray down plain water. Carpet cleaning is not as cheap as some unethical carpet cleaners would have you to believe.

Everybody knows, “you get what you pay for” and, “if it sounds too good to be true, it is.”

Rip-off #2: Bait and Switch

“Dual-process” “steam” carpet cleaning describes the process of shampooing or heavy pre-conditioning, followed with hot water extraction. Since this procedure is about the only way to make hot water extraction (falsely called “steam”) the least bit effective, it is really not optional. Unfortunately, unethical carpet cleaners often use “dual-process” as a bait-and-switch technique.

Here’s how it’s done:

First, they “bait” you with a basic carpet cleaning (single process) at an unbelievably low price. Then, when you call, or after they get into your home and inspect your carpet, they try to “switch” you to the more-expensive dual-process cleaning. If you don’t go for their switch, they often just walk, or you’ll likely receive a quick cold-water spray-and suck using little or no chemical (yielding worse than no results) and they, of course, won’t guarantee their work.

Rip-off #3: Unsupported claims

Of course, you’ll see this in every ad, and rightfully so. If a cleaner is not himself convinced that his methods are the “best”, then what are they?

Fastest? Most profitable? Easiest? Least fatiguing? Who would want a cleaner that didn’t at least try to convince you that his methods are the most effective? But remember this: the method that’s best for you is the method that achieves your goal. Let’s say you want a method that restores your carpet to like-new condition as possible, reduces your exposure to pathogens and contaminants, that dries quickly, and leaves the carpet smelling fresh. Then a method that soaks the carpet takes days to dry, looks worse than it did before, and smells like a wet dog for a couple of days, will probably not be the method for you. So before you choose a carpet cleaner, identify your objectives. Then select the method that is most likely to achieve your goals.

Rip-off #4: Outdated Beliefs:

Maybe I can demonstrate how false this claim is by relating a little horror story from my early days – one of many thousands. When I first started, I was trained for 2 weeks in the use of the “Spin-Bonnet” method hotels in New Jersey. I was a degreed Engineer, no stranger to education, and I felt I needed a broader background than “just mix it up, spray it down, and scrub it back up. If the spots don’t come out, squirt some of the concentrates on it and it will scrub right out.” (Actually, I got on quite famously this way for about a year).I found one supplier who had put together a complete formal carpet cleaning training program including:

  • Carpet construction and fiber identification
  • Chemistry of cleaning and spot removal
  • Carpet cleaning methods
  • How to fix problems associated with cleaning
  • How to repair split seams, permanent stains, etc.

…which they got accredited – passing the exam meant you would actually receive college credit. I received post-graduate credit. Anyway, here’s what happened.

It took a year for them to call me with a date. I thought, with 600-800 cleaners, plus janitors and employees, they were all filled up, right? Nope. With the instructor’s three new employees (guys he had to train anyway), me, and 2 other guys, we had 6 – enough to give the course. Well, we learned about chemistry and pH and how to identify and select the right stuff for the job, right? One of the cleaners was an independent who had never before received any training. Now, armed with all this new information, he figured out how to save time and money. A few days after the course, I got a call. He wanted me to help him fix a

problem with his 1,000 square foot job. When I got there, I found he had used caustic soda to boost his pH (so he could go faster). This caused the whole area to “brown-out” (turn yellow). I recognized the problem from the class and spent hours with my “spin-bonnet” methods fixing it. When we were through, he asked me, “how much?” On an hourly basis, I told him $750. By the look on his face, I could tell he only charged his client $550. He charged only .55 cents per square foot (easy to get jobs that way!)

He probably did the whole job in less time than it took to fix it and made almost $100 per hour – until he paid me to fix it.

The moral of the story is:

  1. Very few cleaners around Northern New Jersey got trained that year.
  2. Just because someone gets trained doesn’t mean he’s fit for the job.
  3. It’s a good thing I learned how to fix problems.

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