RIP-OFF #1: UNBELIEVABLY LOW PRICE.
To some degree, all of us are attracted by low price because we want to work within a budget. But some carpet cleaners use price as the bait for their false and misleading advertising. They offer a cheap price then once they're in your home they pressure you in to buying "add-ons." It's as if you were buying a car and found that the dealer was charging you extra for the tires and steering wheel. Good carpet cleaning is not as cheap as some unethical carpet cleaners would like you to believe.
RIP-OFF # 2: BAIT AND SWITCH.
Dual process carpet cleaning describes the process of shampooing or heavy preconditioning, followed with hot water extraction cleaning. Unfortunately, unethical carpet cleaners often use dual process as a bait-and-switch technique. Here's how it's done: First, they "bait" you with a basic cleaning (single process) at an unbelievably low price. Then, when you call, they try to "switch" you to the more expensive dual-process cleaning. If you don't fall for their switch and choose their basic service, you'll likely receive poor workmanship using little or no chemical and they will not guarantee their work.
RIP-OFF #3: UNSUPPORTED CLAIMS. "THIS CLEANING METHOD IS THE BEST."
You'll read this in almost every ad. You'll hear this from virtually every carpet cleaner. Remember this: The method that's best for you is the method that achieves your goal. If you require a method that dries quickly, then a method that takes a longer time to dry isn't the best for you. So before you choose a carpet cleaner, identify your objectives. Then select the method that best reaches those objectives.
RIP-OFF #4: OUTDATED BELIEFS. "HOT WATER DAMAGES YOUR CARPET."
Years ago, many people believed this was true because their carpets were damaged by "technicians" who didn't know how to properly clean using hot water. For this reason people will be sold on different methods of cleaning and spend money on a method that doesn’t do the job they require.
But this is a false belief. By properly washing and then rinsing your carpet with hot water, your carpet is thoroughly cleaned - in the same way that the person who showers and then rinses off the dirt and soap will be much cleaner than the person who takes a sponge bath.
Obviously, each method does have advantages. So I suggest you look to what carpet manufacturers say. Shaw Industries, the largest carpet manufacturer in the world, recommends only hot water extraction cleaning with a truck-mounted unit used by firms that are IICRC Certified.
RIP-OFF #5: IMPROPER APPLICATION OF CARPET PROTECTION.
This is a spray that is usually applied immediately after cleaning. The more common ones are 3M Scotchgard and Dupont Teflon. When properly applied, an invisible film is left around the carpet fibers, which prevents or inhibits soil from sticking to the fibers. It also repels water and oil based liquid spills, giving you a chance to blot them up before it penetrates the carpet or upholstery. This means your vacuum will remove soil more efficiently, spills will clean up easier, and your carpet will stay cleaner longer and will last longer. This protective layer will be effective for 6 moths to 1 year in the main traffic areas. Proper methods of cleaning will not remove this layer but it will wear off.
However, some unethical cleaners will over-sell you on the benefits and then apply it improperly, usually by over-diluting the mixture. Technicians that work by commission may even over-inflate the price of the protectant so that they will make more profit. They pocket your money and you are left thinking that carpet protectors don't work and are a waste of money. You never make the investment again and your carpet wears and soils much faster than it should, costing you more money in the long run.
RIP-OFF #6: We use only fresh water or thermal-rinse to steam clean or rinse your carpet.
At first this sounds very impressive. What it means is they use plain, untreated hot water to rinse your carpet. Nothing special! It is just another way that cleaner can cut a corner on proper cleaning.
Plain water is a very poor rinsing agent for steam cleaning. That’s why “professional” cleaners follow the IICRC recommendations of adding rinsing agents to enhance the removal of the emulsified soils as well as the soap residues. It costs more to do this but the end result is far superior!!
Another implication is that the rinse agent becomes one more thing to sell you. It implies bait-and-switch methods. They may not even use any soap in a “basic” cleaning unless you are willing to pay extra for it. I’ve heard of cleaners “up-selling” the pre-treatment, spot cleaners, AND rinsing agents. This is why they can offer such low prices. The truth is the pre-treatment, spot cleaners, and rinsing agents are necessary to “ethically” clean your carpet and the Carpet Cleaning Standard states that it should all be included.
It is important to know what a cleaner will specifically do for the price they are offering you.
See My Carpet Cleaning page for proper cleaning procedures.