By John Shulte, Executive Director, NADCA
Reprinted by permission from Duct Tales May/June 2010
We’ve all seen them: the coupons offering whole-house air duct cleaning for less than the cost of cheeseburger off the value meal menu of your local fast food restaurant. I know you’ve seen these, because about a million NADCA members each year make it a point to call our offices and complain about these coupons. And despite our efforts to educate consumers and solicit support from the legal system, it has been this way for years.
My friends, I am pleased to report that the winds of change are finally-FINALLY-starting to blow our way! Earlier this year, the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection (Maryland) pursued charges against eight air duct cleaning companies and two direct mail advertising firms for deceptive advertising practices and other illegal business practices. As part of the settlement, the companies were required to pay fines and issues refunds while also agreeing to discontinue the unscrupulous practices. You can get the details at: https://montgomerycountymd.gov/home.aspx
On June 8, 2010 the Cook County State Attorney’s Office (Illinois) filed suit against American Pure Air, Inc. for allegedly charging for work not performed and, in some cases, for intimidating consumers for payment. According to the lawsuit, American Pure Air would falsely report that clients’ ductwork or furnaces were contaminated with mold, fungus, dust mites or bacteria and that these contaminants posed an immediate health risk. The company would then attempt to sell additional frivolous products or services to eliminate the purported contaminants. The suit seeks to permanently bar the defendants from engaging in any further alleged deceptive practices; refunds for victims and $50,000.00 in damages against the defendants.
These cases follow several news exposés in states across the country over the past six months, as well as other cases that are currently under investigation. NADCA Headquarters and NADCA members have assisted in these cases while distinguishing between the few bad actors in the industry and the quality service provided by the legitimate companies out there working hard to earn a living.
If you are contacted by a news agency looking for assistance with an investigative story (or if you have an opportunity to help regulators) I encourage you to get involved. Please make it a point to thank these folks for their efforts to protect legitimate businesses by exposing the frauds. Aside from the opportunity to differentiate NADCA members from the scammers, we also have an obligation to protect the consumers who buy from our industry. If you want some assistance in dealing with regulators or the media, please contact NADCA Headquarters-we are here and ready to help you.