You just sat down to watch your favorite show when the phone rings. After pleasantries the caller gets down to business. “Mr. Smith, I’m calling you tonight to let you know that my team will be in your neighborhood tomorrow night. We’re offering a free carpet cleaning to five homeowners. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime offer, and you’ve been selected. Are you folks going to be home tomorrow night?”

“Well, yes.” You answer.

“I have appointments slots open at 5:30, 7:00 and 8:00. Which works better for you early or later in the evening?”

The carpet cleaner man arrives at 7 pm with a big box in hand. After a few minutes he opens the box and ask if you have heard of XYZ vacuum cleaner/shampooer. His does a couple feet of the living room and then launches into a drawn out sales pitch. You finally have to ask him to leave. Unfortunately, the vacuum cleaner salesman used less than honest tactics to get into your home.

How can we avoid carpet cleaning scams? The preceding link will alert you to some specific scams out there. Let me give you some general advice.

  • Pricing—If the carpet cleaning is free, they are probably selling something like a vacuum cleaner, service, or a cleaning product. If it extremely lost cost, they are probably using a bait and switch scam. They want to get in the home with a ridiculously low price and then talk you into something much higher. If you don’t upgrade to the higher cleaning they will not try and get out spots, stains, pet urine or do much else than get the carpet wet.
  • Telemarketing—The telemarketer has an distinct advantage. They can say about anything. You have no contact information like an address or even a return phone number. These people work in call center with unlisted numbers. I don’t suggest setting up a carpet cleaning appointment with a call center. Work with a listed carpet cleaning business.
  • Interneting—Technology has introduced a whole new way of marketing. It has some advantages, but don’t be mislead by a snazzy, Internet presence. Do your homework. Make sure that you are dealing with a legitimate company.
  • Timing—If they are in a hurry to get you to buy or sign, beware. Legitimate businesses will give you time to check them out. They have nothing to hide. The scammers want you to make an impulse buy.
  • Surveying—Surveys and contest are often ways to get your contact information so that they can bombard you with telephone, email, or in-person advertising. If you give them information even through a contest, it frees them from no-contact listings.

I provide carpet cleaning in Portland, Oregon. As a business owner I feel that the public has a right to question my legitimacy. I provide all my new customers with up front contact information, pricing, referrals, and training certification. I encourage them to check me out on Angie’s list and the other professional associations of which I belong. I advertise, sure, but most of my business these days comes via word of mouth. I prefer letting my work and my loyal customers promote me. If its too good to be true, it is to good to be true.

Hope this information is helpful. Until next time…Sean!