In a tough economy we are seeing them everywhere, local ads offering a low price air duct cleaning as little as $39.99! While these ads seem like a great deal with minimal risk; consumers should be leery.
First, let us disprove the validity and possibility of a $39.99 air duct cleaning.
A standard duct cleaning usually requires two men. According to Simply Hired, in the state of New Jersey, the average salary of a duct cleaner is fifteen dollars per hour. We will set up a fictitious scenario to display how the cost will outweigh the profit of such a low priced duct cleaning.
If a job is at least twenty minutes in travel one way that is a total travel time of forty minutes. Forty minutes of man hours times two men is eighty minutes of cost for the duct cleaning company; totaling a cost of $20.00 that must be paid to technicians for travel alone.
(40minutesx2men=80minutes; 80minutes/60minutes=1 and 1/3hours; 1 and 1/3hours x $15 per/hour = $20)
Therefore, an air duct cleaning company is looking at a profit of $19.99. However, that $19.99 must go towards other essentials for running a business such as: cost of equipment, fuel, and insurance.
As you can clearly see it is not feasible, practical, or possible for a company to offer a $39.99 air duct cleaning. No one can spend more money than they make and survive; neither a person nor a business. Thus, common sense and basic economics will tell you that a $39.99 price is too good to be true!
Next, we will explain in detail how the scam works.
The company will arrive with a portable vacuum and begin the set up process. They will set up the vacuum, connect hoses, and even cut holes in your duct work. The set up process will take place before any price is reviewed. Once the set-up is complete they may start the duct cleaning immediately or stop after set up.
Next, the air duct cleaner will then come to you with some of the following statements; “This is larger than we expected,” “You have an extra trunk line,” “You have more duct work than anticipated,” “You duct work is poorly laid out,” following these statements they will explain to you the additional cost. Now as the consumer you have a decision to make, but as you think about the pros and cons the following runs through your mind; “They are already setup,” “I have already rearranged my schedule,” “I have already taken off of work,” “It needs to be cleaned,” “I don’t have time to reschedule,” etc. These exact thoughts are what the duct cleaning company is banking on; and thus, you will agree to the additional cost.
But it does not stop there!
After continuing with job they will then return explaining that they have found something else wrong with the duct work. In this case they will look to reference something that will get you to commit to the further additional cost. For example, if you’re a parent or elderly, the duct cleaners may suggest you have mold and will discuss the benefit for health problems. At this point in the discussion, their job is to make a sale by looking for what you “need.” By preying on your needs and circumstances you are then guilty and obligated to completing the job at all additional costs.
Duct cleaning scams can be compared to having the oil changed in your car. They are always trying to get you with add-ons i.e. new wipers or a new air filter.
The following two stories are testimonials as to people who fell for these very duct cleaning scams.
Lindsay of Pompton Plains, NJ called a $39.99 duct cleaner to clean her air ducts prior to the arrival of her baby. The company arrived on the designated date and began the job. After starting the job, they explained to her that her ductwork was “laid out poorly” and there would be an upcharge. Lindsay agreed, “I did not know the difference between well laid out duct work versus poorly laid out duct work.” About forty minutes later the man returned and explained that he had found mold in her duct work. He then stated that “it could be dangerous to my baby’s health.” She then agreed to the up charge again, “How could I not do it, if it would affect the health of my unborn child.” By the end of the job Lindsay had paid a total over $1800.
Harold of Toms River, NJ lived in a retirement home and was calling to get prices to have his ducts cleaned. He had called a few companies when there was a knock on his door. Two men got out of a small car with a portable vacuum in hand. They stated that they were from the air duct cleaning company that he had just spoken with and were there to clean his ducts. Harold told the men that he was only getting prices and had not decided on a company. According to Harold, the men insisted on doing the job and then stated “this is a larger job than we quoted you on, so there is an additional cost and since we are here you have to pay us.” Harold immediately called security and the men took off.
How can you protect yourself?
1. Ask for a price guarantee in writing.
2. Check with the National Air Duct Cleaning Association (NADCA) for standards.
3. Check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) by looking for companies with A ratings and avoid those with F ratings.
4. Reference Consumer Affairs.
5. If you are a member of Angie’s List, use them as a resource.
6. Read the fine print on all offers.
7. Check the company’s location; as we discussed earlier no company will commute for $39.99.
8. Check for company longevity.
Why Advanced Furnace and Air Duct Cleaning?
With one phone call you not only get Price Protection, Satisfaction and Appointment Air Duct Cleaning Guarantee!
1. *We will quote you a price in writing and that price is guaranteed not to change at time of service or your vent cleaning is free.
2. We guarantee our time of arrival to be within a 2 hour a window. Our technician will show up during that time or your cleaning is free.
3. We guarantee your satisfaction or we will return to correct anything that does not meet your satisfaction.
4. We have been in business for 50 years and have been owned by the same family.
5. We were given an A+ rating by Better Business Bureau for 37 years.
6. We have been NADCA certified for 17 years.
7. We have positive, strong reviews on Angie’s List and were recognized as Super Service Provider for 2010, 2011, & 2012.
*Applies to Residential duct cleanings only. Quotes/estimates are based on information given by the customer and include the following: the number of rooms in the home, the number of systems, location of the system(s), type of system(s). Misinformation will void this guarantee.
Still not convinced?
In New Jersey alone two cases caused scammers to pay over 1.7 million dollars in fines and restitution. Recently, Dateline NBC aired an episode that exposed air duct cleaning scams by various companies that took advantage of unsuspecting consumers. The undercover investigation by Chris Hansen in conjunction with NADCA exposed unscrupulous air duct cleaners using bait and switch tactics to take advantage of customers.
If you still have doubts look to the number one search engine Google. If you “Google” Air Duct Cleaning Scams, you will be surprised by the overwhelming number of results that you will find.
If you have already fallen to the hand of an air duct cleaning scam- Advanced can help! If you can provide a copy of a scam artists work order with the additional costs added then we will give you an extra 15% off your residential air duct cleaning!