What is bait and switch carpet cleaning?

Bait and switch is a form of fraud, In England and Wales, bait and switch is banned under the consumer protection from unfair trading regulations 2008. Breaking this law can result in a criminal prosecution, an unlimited fine and two years in jail…

However the punishment for this offence seems to make no difference to the unscrupulous carpet cleaning companies that use this method, they advertise a very low price, “The bait” then once they are in you home. you will be told that this low price for carpet cleaning will be “inadequate for your needs” and they will up-sell you a more expensive package often called a “deep clean” “The switch”.

Now they are in your home, many fall prey to this unscrupulous tactic, they may feel obliged, many are vulnerable. and for the ones that don’t give in immediately they have other methods to reel you in.They may haggle the price down where you now think you are getting a bargain despite it still being vastly more expensive than the original price quoted.

Another tactic is to perform a test patch to show you what amazing results can be achieved, whats wrong with that? well the test patch will be in the middle of a room where you will be left with a conspicuous clean patch if you then decide to not go ahead with the carpet clean.

Who is at risk from bait and switch in Southend?

Basically everyone is at risk to this scam, but the elderly and vulnerable people are particularly vulnerable. These people are very good at what they do, and that does not include carpet cleaning. Bait and switch is not a new problem it’s been around for ever. It has come to my attention more in the past few years from people who have contacted me who have fallen victim to this scam or been let down by them not turning up for a job.

Not arriving for jobs is a common complaint and i believe this is is caused by them block booking customers in the same areas to maximise profit, when they find they only have one customer in another area they will contact that customer and cancel that particular job. They market areas via websites with seemingly local numbers to hoodwink the public to believe they are local, because they know that most people will want to use someone as local as possible to keep the cost down…It’s simply dishonest and is an effective trick to fool the public

The BBC Watchdog program Rogue traders did a story in 2011 highlighting this problem in our industry:

Enterprise cleaning services based in Wimbourne in Dorset charged an elderly lady 18 times the original quote in this video made made by BBC TV’s Watchdog program. She declined his offer multiple times but they kept on using every trick in the book to pressure her into paying the higher price. I am glad to say Enterprise went bust, but there is always someone else waiting just around the corner to cash in on this lucrative scam.

How can I protect myself?

One way is to use someone who has a clear local address attached to their business and a local telephone number, the more transparent someone is about who they are the more likely they are a genuine local business. Google business listings which appear whenever you search on google will include a local map for you to locate… although none of these things will guarantee you will find someone trustworthy and reliable. It does however minimise the risk.

Use google reviews or any free business listings that advertise trades. Many have reviews on them and it will be quite clear which ones to steer clear of.

Remember the “Golden rule” If it sounds to good to be true” then it’s probably a scam. If the bait and switch mob really cleaned carpet at the advertised prices they would be barely making minimum wage. remember it’s all in the up-selling once they are in your home.

At Roffey carpet cleaning Southend the charges for my carpet cleaning services and upholstery cleaning services are completely transparent, i charge enough to be able to do the most thorough clean possible, for me it’s always made good business sense to “wow” a customer with the results so they become your marketing by word of mouth, and it has been successful. I’m never going to make the same profits as the companies using bait and switch, and i am  happy with that. I find it completely unethical and feel disheartened that the carpet cleaning industry is being tarnished by this practice that reflects negatively upon us all in the carpet cleaning industry.

The last straw for me was hearing of a 95 year old lady falling victim to this scam, she was originally quoted £20 to clean one room, but ended up paying £95. So i felt compelled to share this with you in the hope you will avoid a similar thing happening to you.

If you have fallen victim i would urge you to report your experience to trading standards, https://www.gov.uk/find-local-trading-standards-office Only by reporting these companies can we stop them.

Finally, please remember there are many of us just trying to make an honest living, providing the very best service to our customers, at a fair price.

James Roffey