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How to Avoid Scams
"2 rooms cleaned free."
"$39.95 per room normal cleaning."
"Internet scams - $49.95 for entire house cleaning"
"Free Scotch Guard protection"
"100% free spot removal."
Such carpet and upholstery cleaning ads are seen every day by consumers, but is something really free? What is normal carpet cleaning? Unsuspecting consumers who are lured by carpet cleaning specials are often victims of bait-and-switch advertising. They realize, often too late, that these advertised carpet cleaning specials have conditions, either written in small print or not stated at all. They are often told that "preconditioning" the carpet costs extra or that the carpet is too soiled for normal cleaning at the advertised low price.
Knowing what to expect from professional carpet cleaning is difficult. Varying practices and services offered by cleaners just add to the carpet cleaning confusion. What is included in the price? What will cost extra? What are the industry-accepted standard practices of a professional carpet cleaning company?
Having the answers to these cleaning questions and knowing which carpet cleaning questions to ask are essential in avoiding the scam artists when having your carpets professionally cleaned. Educating the consumer on what to expect, and demand, from a professional carpet cleaning company and helping to expose unethical practices within the carpet cleaning industry are major goals of the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC).
The IICRC is a non-profit international certification body that sets and promotes high standards and technical proficiency within the carpet cleaning industry. The IICRC (now known as Clean Trust) has developed a list of what consumers should expect from a professional carpet cleaning firm:
What to expect from a professional carpet cleaning job
- Cleaning Standard: The professional carpet cleaner will follow the guidelines as stated in IICRC S001-1999 carpet cleaning standard.
- Trained Technicians: Carpet cleaning technicians must be willing to take time to pre-inspect carpet in all of the areas that need cleaning. They must identify the carpet's construction and fibre, evaluate individual cleaning needs and recommend an appropriate cleaning method or procedure. The carpet cleaning technician is the key to quality results, not a particular method, machine or process.
- No Hidden Costs: Consumers have the right to expect itemized carpet cleaning services and firm cleaning prices before technicians begin the work. While carpet cleaning technicians may offer added carpet services such as deodorization and carpet protector at an additional cost, consumers should never feel pressured to accept anything more than services they request and authorize.
- Safety: All carpet cleaning and specialty agents and equipment used before, during and after cleaning must be used in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations and appropriate safety regulations.
- Customer Satisfaction: Carpet cleaning firms should offer workmanship guarantees in writing. Fibre type, carpet construction, installation and maintenance may present circumstances beyond a carpet cleaning technician's control; however, responsible workmanship must be implicit in any cleaning work performed.
- Pre-vacuuming: Carpet cleaning technicians should carefully pre-vacuum all carpet before other cleaning techniques are employed, regardless of the cleaning method used. Special emphasis should be placed on vacuuming the carpets in major entry areas where soils accumulate.
- Furniture Moving: Unless clearly specified otherwise, moving furniture to access and clean the carpet underneath should be considered part of the normal carpet cleaning job. Items such as fish tanks, waterbeds, loaded china cabinets, computers, or extremely delicate or fragile furnishings (pianos, antiques) are considered exceptions.
- Spotting: Special attention to carpet spots and stains is included in normal cleaning performance. However, time consuming specialized spotting or prolonged effort on colour-added carpet spots may incur an additional cleaning charge. Customers should be advised of additional cleaning charges before extensive spotting procedures are undertaken on the carpet.
- Pre-conditioning: Special treatment with "pre-conditioning" agents in heavily soiled entry and traffic areas of the carpet should be included in the cost of cleaning. However, the carpet cleaning job cost may increase in extreme soiling situations and consumers should be advised in advance of the need for such increased charges.
- Minimize Drying Time: It is the carpet cleaning technician's responsibility, with the consumer's cooperation, to ensure that the carpet is dried and returned to normal use within a reasonable time frame. The amount of time required for drying the carpet will vary with different cleaning methods, the degree of soiling and the aggressiveness of carpet cleaning. However, under no circumstances should carpet drying require more than twenty four (24) hours with proper ventilation. The consumer's cooperation in providing continuous airflow and/or ventilation to expedite carpet drying cannot be overemphasized.
- Thorough Cleaning: There should be no differentiation between "normal" carpet cleaning and "special" carpet cleaning. Clean is clean. Every effort must be made to physically remove as much soil as possible from carpet during cleaning. Further, carpet cleaning technicians must take steps to leave carpet fibres as residue-free as possible to prevent accelerated re-soiling.