If you're in the market for a new Ipod or a particular vehicle, you can be sure that the item you are purchasing is identical from dealer to dealer. If everything else is equal, buyers look at price as a major differentiator.
But when you purchase a service you're never quite sure what you will get. It is more difficult to distinguish services, especially in an industry like carpet cleaning, where there are no mandatory industry standards or regulations. Unfortunately, there are a lot of rip-off artists in the carpet cleaning industry. If you do an Internet search for carpet cleaning scams, you will find hundreds of examples of bait-and-switch tactics caught by hidden camera on consumer protection programs.
So how do you minimize the chances of getting ripped-off? Knowledge! Understanding what you're buying and having an idea of what that level of service should cost, will help you select a better vendor.
Therefore first, determine the level of service you want. If you live in an apartment, chances are that you're not looking for the same level of clean as the person who has invested $ 60.00 per square yard for their top grade carpet. Some guys buy their dress shirts at Walmart for $ 12 and others will only wear a custom tailored shirt for $ 400. The same is true for carpet cleaning customers. Some happily pay $ 1000 or more to have their carpets meticulously cleaned, while coupon shoppers are satisfied with a quick $ 50 clean. Needless to say, the quality and service are not comparable.
There are two primary carpet cleaning pricing methods – by the room or by the square foot. If carpet cleaners charge by the square foot, ask if they compute their charges on the over-all room size or only on the actual area they clean. Then do some simple math, and compare that price to what cleaners who charge by the room have quoted. In general it is easier to understand and easier to estimate by the room pricing over the phone or the Internet when compared to square foot pricing. However, most professional property managers and facility managers request by the square foot pricing.
In most cases, if the carpet is in good shape and just needs to be cleaned, this is all you will pay. But taking good care of our carpet is not as important to most of us as maintaining our vehicles. You know that you should do regular maintenance like oil changes every 3000-5000 miles even when the vehicle has a 100,000 mile warranty. To prolong the life of their carpet and prevent premature wear, most people know that they should frequently vacuum their carpet. They do not blot up spills, and allow the stains to set or worse yet, they tamper with stains by applying the wrong products.
When additional work is required it is very difficult to estimate a price over the phone. If there are stains or ripples in the carpet, or if there is pet damage, a verbal description can not convey enough information to reliably estimate a price. Variables such as the locations of ripples that need to be stretched out and the severity of the pet damage or the type and size of a stain are all part of the difficulty of pricing the service over the phone.
If you were involved in an auto accident, you would not call the body shop, tell them you backed into a pole, and then ask how much it would cost, would you? They too would need to see the damage first. If in your opinion, your carpet requires more than a basic clean, you should discuss your concerns with the carpet cleaner on the phone. Find out what they are able to about your problem. For example, not every carpet cleaning company offers stretching, or carpet repairs. Can they treat heavy pet urine stains that may require replacement of the pad? Once you've narrowed down your candidates, ask if they will come to your home and give you an exact quote for the work, before actually starting the work.
You can authorize them to proceed with the clean – which will save them an extra trip – once you're comfortable with their quote and the cleaner's expertise. If not, call another cleaner before you make your final selection.
Finally, always remember the saying "you get what you pay for." If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. In business we say: price, quality, service – pick any two.