Since we have been discussing another scammer over on Facebook, we thought it was time to talk about another type of scam as well.
Much like any other contracting business, duct cleaning companies are, in the vast majority of cases, perfectly legitimate establishments. However, that is not to say that scammers don’t exist – they definitely do. It’s an unfortunate reality that skilled trades tend to be an ideal breeding ground for fly-by-night businesses trying to take advantage of unsuspecting customers.
As a legitimate business owner, there are many times that reputable owners have been called to come fix problems caused by unscrupulous scammers. Over the years, they have picked out the top five warning signs that should tip you off to the fact that trouble is ahead. Keep an eye out for any of the following behaviors, as they are frequently associated with scams.
Threats of an Impending Emergency
You definitely need to get your air ducts cleaned and maintained regularly, but if you and your family are in perfectly good health, then there’s no reason the person giving you an estimate should be trying to scare you. It’s true that dirty air ducts could harbor bacteria or viruses to make you sick, and clean air ducts are especially important for allergy sufferers, but most people already understand that. Remember, someone giving you over-the-top warnings is probably acting as a salesperson, not a medical expert.
Poorly Maintained Cleaning Equipment
There is a very important difference between the well-worn tools of a tradesman and the rundown or second rate tools of a scammer. The items brought into your home won’t necessarily look like they just came out of the box, and that’s perfectly acceptable. It means they’re being put to good use on a regular basis. What isn’t acceptable is for faulty, poorly maintained, or neglected equipment to be used.
The right tools for the job make all the difference.
Limited Knowledge or Ability to Answer Questions
The person who comes out to give you an estimate might not be the exact person who comes to do your cleaning. That’s to be expected. However, you should also expect that the person doing the initial inspection will be able to answer your questions. Now, some highly specific questions might require a call to a superior – that’s fine, so long as the answer you get in the end seems well-informed.
Problems arise when you have a person in your home who can’t seem to answer anything to your satisfaction, or even appears to be avoiding certain answers. That could be a scam waiting to happen.
Prices WAY Under the Competition
Duct cleaning services will have a bit of price variation depending on certain factors. The size of your home, the age of your HVAC system, the length of time since your last air duct cleaning, etc. There will also be a bit of price variation between companies, and this is exactly why homeowners are always encouraged to get estimates from several companies before making a final decision.
So if a company comes to you with a bid that is wildly lower than all the others, that is probably an indication of a scam. In the best case scenario, you would be getting substandard work, and in the worst-case scenario, you could have an inexperienced person damaging your system.
Too Many Negative Reviews or Warnings Online
Word-of-mouth advertising is the most powerful type there is, so do a bit of research on any company you are thinking of working with. Online review sites will provide first-person accounts from other customers who have used the same businesses. If you are seeing a lot of negative reviews, or outright warnings not to use this business, that’s a pretty clear sign that it’s time to back away.
You are far more likely to run into reputable contractors and tradespeople in your search for air duct cleaners, but it is always a good idea to protect yourself from scammers. Keep these five points in mind so you can avoid them.