Too often unsuspecting consumers who are lured by cleaning company specials find themselves victims of bait-and-switch advertising. They realize, often too late, that these advertised specials have conditions, either written in small print or not stated at all. They are often told that “certain services” cost extra or that a “special procedure” is required.
Bait-and-switch operators are prevalent in many industries, and the carpet cleaning industry is no exception. But, how do you know who is and who is not?
The professional carpet cleaning industry has several trade associations working on this problem. The largest being the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), which certify a cleaning company or its employees who meet prescribed levels of technical proficiency and pledge to operate by a “Code of Ethics.” Most other industries have similar associations or trade groups, of which the most reputable companies in that industry are members.
To help educate consumers so they will not become victims of a fraudulent company (within an industry), trade associations or certifying boards releases a list of guidelines to consider when selecting a professional. Other indicators of professionalism can include potential customers to ask specifically about:
– Price – If an advertised price sounds too good to be true – it is! Often a company will advertise a low price to get their foot in the door. Low price usually equates to low quality for any product or service. Legitimate business people have legitimate expenses they must cover, including license, taxes, insurance, employee wages and benefits, and quality tools of the trade.
– Quality – Never should the price of a service or product be the sole criterion for selecting that service or product. A price that sounds high may not be a signal of a rip-off, but rather the true cost of quality. In all professions, quality work deserves a quality price.
– Truth in Advertising – Read the fine print in advertised specials to find out exactly what the price includes, and request a firm price before the work begins.
– Training – Professional firms require employees to engage in formal training in a variety of disciplines specific to their industry, and these educational efforts will be ongoing. Ask about the training background of the technicians who will be performing the work.
– Certification – Professional firms require certification of technicians or tradesmen through formal schooling, certification organizations or independent training and testing organizations. Ask to see their certificate or wallet card.
– Experience – The years of experience a firm has, combined with formal training programs, contribute significantly to the proficiency of its employees.
– Knowledgeable – Professional firms employ and train technicians who can answer basic questions regarding the product or service at hand.
– References – Consumers should ask for references from previous customers as well as inquire the BBB for membership or a record of complaints.
– Trade Associations – Professional firms are members of trade associations that promote high ethical standards and continuing education. Look for trade logos in advertising.
– Professional Standards – Ask if the service technician if they are operating according to industry standards. Most times these standards are published and available for purchase. Such is the case with professional carpet cleaning.
– Method – Ask the service technician which method will be used and the advantages and disadvantages of this method compared to other methods.
– No Pressure – Technicians must be courteous and willing to take the time to thoroughly explain the process and answer all questions. You should never feel pressured.
There is no single criterion for selecting a service professional. Several combined factors must be considered in the selection decision. With all of this in mind it is still best to ask a friend or neighbor for a referral to someone they trust.
Dan Burk of Dan’s Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning is an IICRC Master Textile Cleaner and Master Restoration Technician. In addition to the IICRC Dan’s trade associations are CRI (carpet & rug institute).