Carpet Cleaning “Bait & Switch” Scams and Misleading Coupon Deals
The goal of the Bait & Switch is to convince buyers to purchase the substitute goods as a means of avoiding disappointment over not getting the bait. It suggests that the seller will not show the original product or service advertised but instead will demonstrate a more expensive product or a similar product with a higher margin.
You will find the bait and switch scam everywhere with carpet cleaning companies claming to clean an entire house for under $100 or to clean a room for less than $30. This is simply impossible to get a quality cleaning at this rate. All of these unethical carpet cleaning companies want you to believe that carpet cleaning is inexpensive. The process of professional carpet cleaning itself requires very expensive equipment used by certified and experienced personnel.
We see many different coupons every where we look touting these unrealistic prices. Although coupons are a great marketing tool, watch out for those that seem too good to be true. If a coupon is offering to clean your whole house or several rooms for one low price, beware. The price usually represents the minimum amount they will charge for undersized rooms and a simple rinse job with no cleaning detergents. Have a large room or a carpet that’s actually dirty? Well, that will cost you a whole lot more!
Stain resistors and fabric protectors such as Scotchgard™ or Dupont Teflon® are a great way to be sure your carpets maintain their appearance after a professional cleaning. However, they are not cheap. Currently, a gallon of professional grade Scotchgard costs over $100.00. Beware when a carpet cleaner is trying to bait you with a promise of free Scotchguard. It’s very unlikely they would just give it away, which means they’re probably just spraying water. Some cleaners will even try to convince you that the Scotchguard is in their cleaning solution. Protectors can only be effective if applied after the cleaning. Fabric protectors should cost anywhere from 10 to 20 cents per square foot. If a carpet cleaner insists he is giving it to you for free, ask them to let you watch them mix it and see what their reaction is.
The Legal Side
In the United States, courts have held that the purveyor using a bait-and-switch operation may be subject to a lawsuit by customers for false advertising.
Charging by the area:
Although there are many carpet cleaning companies that use this method of charging, some of them have ill intent. Here’s how it works: a consumer calls to get an estimate for a living room, dining room and a hall. The company tells them about a special they have for (3) rooms for $69.95. That sounds like a good price right? It is…..until they get into your home. What they fail to tell you on the phone is that a room is any area under 200 square feet. Since your living room is 250, they’ll have to charge for another room. Oh, and since your hall is “L” shaped, that’s going to count as two areas as well. And by the way, that coffee spot you have in the dining room, that’s going to require a pre-spotter to get that out and that’s going to be an additional cost too. Do you see where this is leading? Always insist on an estimate based on the total square footage you want cleaned. It is the most accurate method in the industry. You will only be charged for the areas of the room you want cleaned. If you don’t want your bed moved, why should you have to pay for the whole room? If you do decide to use a company that charges by the area, be sure to ask what the maximum is for one area and if there are any additional charges for extras such as spot removal or heavy traffic areas.
There are several honest, professional carpet cleaners around to choose from. Just be sure to ask some basic questions. All businesses need to turn a profit to operate, so consider that when you’re being sold on an unrealistic price. And remember, if it sounds too good to be true, 9 times out of 10 it is.
“Bait and switch” definition-
Noun: A sales tactic in which a bargain-priced item is used to attract customers who are then encouraged to purchase a more expensive similar item.