You have probably received coupons in your local paper advertising cleaning services at costs too good to be true. When the company arrives, you find that though they had advertised a certain low price, your bill is much higher due to upcharges, add-ons, and other hidden fees and costs that weren’t made clear to you. This scam is called “bait & switch,” and it is an unscrupulous tactic used all too frequently among cleaning companies. By learning more about this tactic, you will be able to recognize bait & switch companies and avoid them.
What is Bait & Switch?
Bait & switch is a fraudulent practice used by many carpet cleaning companies who advertise a certain price, then add hidden fees to arrive at a much higher cost for your final bill. The customer is “baited” with the promise of a low-cost service, then finds out too late that the product or service has been “switched” by the company in a way that can be downright unfair to the customer.
Here’s an example of the bait & switch tactic: A company offers to clean a room for an extraordinarily low price. Once they arrive, they inform you that the price does not include the cost of chemicals or cleaning agents, which are fundamentally important in carpet cleaning. When you agree to pay for the necessary chemicals, the final price on the bill is significantly higher than you expected when you hired the company. Another way a carpet cleaner will bait & switch a customer is by advertising multiple rooms cleaned for one low price, but upon arriving at your home, inform you that a small closet constitutes an entire room. These bait & switch tactics are used among retail sales companies everywhere, but permeate the carpet cleaning industry. When an employee of a bait & switch company enters your home, he or she may try to get you to agree to additional features or services, with the end result being a bigger commission. The employee may be pushy or demanding, and even use intimidation to do this!
Companies who choose to scam customers with bait & switch tactics may also be cutting corners by watering down chemical solutions, and paying their employees by the job, rather than by the hour. The best way to protect your home and save money is to avoid these companies altogether.
Here are some red flags and the reasons they most likely indicate a company operating with bait & switch tactics:
Ridiculously low price: A good rule of thumb with cleaning pricing is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Pushy salesmen: Once the technician arrives at your house, they want to upsell and add on as much as possible to the job and will use intimidation and hard sell tactics to do so.
Quotes are given by room, rather than square footage: A company may bait & switch you by offering a deal of several rooms or areas to be cleaned for one low price. It’s only later you find out that linen closets and foyers constitute rooms.
Employees are paid by commission: Another reason to be wary of quotes given by room rather than footage is that often companies just want to get a foot in the door before adding on and suggesting additional features to each cleaning job. If an employee is paid on commission, that employee will try to add on as many features and expensive cleaning products as possible to boost the final bill.
How to Avoid Bait & Switch Scams
The best way to avoid interaction with a bait & switch company is to become informed of how a the company operates if you intend to use them. Read the reviews posted on the company’s website, and ask about the materials they use. Make sure the technicians have been properly trained and are using the the right cleaning chemicals and the proper equipment and vehicle.
Here are some questions to ask the company in order to get a feel for their operations:
What technique do you use to clean carpets? (Nearly all carpet manufacturers and carpet fiber producers recommend the hot water extraction method, also known as steam cleaning.)
Have your technicians been properly trained?
Do you pay your employees by the hour or by the job?
Do you charge travel charges or fuel surcharges?
Are there any hidden charges or costs you will bill me for?
Is the cost of the cleaning chemicals included in the estimate?
The failsafe approach to avoiding bait & switch is to call First Coast Home Pros to clean your carpets. Our technicians are paid by the hour, not by commission, and are committed to quality. Each technician has been extensively trained, and is IICRC (The Clean Trust) certified. We use the most trusted cleaning solutions and the most technologically-advanced equipment on the market. We guarantee soft, clean carpet, hassle-free, and with no hidden costs or fees whatsoever. We pre-vacuum and pretreat each carpet free of charge before proceeding with our high quality and quick-drying hot water extraction carpet cleaning method. In short, we are the best cleaning service in Northeast Florida.
Steer clear of bait & switch by hiring Jacksonville’s best carpet cleaning professionals.
First Coast Home Pros maintains a commitment to quality work and customer service. We want to be the best service company you’ve ever invited into your home, and our job is not finished until we have exceeded your expectations.