Whilst most carpet and upholstery cleaning companies do their very best to provide a high-quality service at a fair price, there are some individuals and carpet cleaning franchises that are less ethical and employ bait-and-switch tactics on unsuspecting customers.
The bait-and-switch con is usually spotted in online or leaflet advertising with a company permanently promoting particularly cheap offers such as prices starting at £15, one room any size for £15, or a whole house for £50 etc.
What then usually happens is that the carpet cleaning representative will try to raise the agreed price with additional hidden charges. These are often explained by stating that “you were quoted for a basic clean, but your carpets need a deep clean” or “you need specific additional chemicals or special process not covered by the offer to remove these types of stains.”
Simply put, the “bait” is the misleading offer, and the “switch” is the attempt to scam the customer into paying an inflated price. And if the customer doesn’t agree to the new price, the clean is usually very rushed and the offending company out the door as soon as possible to minimise time and money spent on the job.
Unfortunately, this tactic is still being used in the UK even though it became illegal in 2008.
How to avoid being scammed by bait-and-switch
Firstly, we recommend avoiding any company that is currently advertising any suspiciously cheap deals. It’s simple mathematics:
A carpet cleaning franchise operator simply wouldn’t make a reasonable living if he were to clean carpets at the prices advertised (after paying franchise fees, running costs etc.).
And if they did manage to do so, it would be at the expense of any sort of quality service because jobs would have to be completed at breakneck speed in order to cram as many appointments as possible into their working week.
Granted, there are sometimes genuine reasons for having to increase the price of a job:
The rooms may be significantly larger than described.
There may be additional areas or rooms added.
But aggressively pushing an inflated price on a customer and then carrying out a sub standard service when they decline is simply not acceptable.
Always do your homework and if possible get recommendations from family and friends.