BBB Examines Abuses in Air Duct Industry Advertising
Consumer complaints nearly triple in one year
DENVER – Feb. 26, 2013 – The Better Business Bureau of Denver/Boulder today announced the results of a comprehensive analysis about the local air duct cleaning industry’s advertising practices.
In response to numerous complaints of false advertising, the BBB reviewed the industry, including 62 specific air duct cleaning companies, and industry-wide practices. As a result of the study, the BBB requested 21 companies to change and/or substantiate advertising claims based on BBB Code of Advertising guidelines. Most advertisers complied, and the few that did not were then given “F” ratings from the BBB.
The study was an independent review of air duct companies across the community, of varied sizes, and included reviews of websites, print advertising, coupons and online promotions.
“This is the first of a series of industry studies we will be doing this and in future years as part of our marketplace leadership initiatives for businesses and consumers,” said Su Hawk, president and CEO. “Ethical advertising is at the core of the BBB, and we believe strongly in ensuring information is truthful, and consumers are provided clear information. We chose this industry because the number of direct consumer complaints went from 53 to 120 from 2011 to 2012, indicating a concerning trend,” she said.
The chief issue that prompted the analysis was bait-scheme advertising. According to complaints, advertisers offered a “whole house” air duct cleaning service for a low price, some as low as $35, but never honored this price. Instead, homeowners were quoted or billed several hundred dollars.
Some advertisers also claimed that the price increase was due to additional services not included in the initial price offer, but the BBB found that such conditions were not clearly disclosed, if at all, and the term “whole house” was therefore entirely misleading.
“As part of our review, we were also very pleased to thank many companies for truthfully and proactively having honest advertising, so consumers across our community should also know that there are many air duct cleaners who have great integrity in their advertising,” added Hawk. “While we encourage consumers to take extra precautions when working with any company, we’re also so proud of the companies who value ethics and integrity,” she said.
The BBB has set the standard for ethical business practices in the Denver area for more than 60 years. By working closely with local authorities and maintaining a large database of consumer concerns, the BBB can recognize patterns of dishonest business behavior and make attempts to correct it for the benefit of both consumers and reputable businesses in the same industry.
“I am hopeful that this investigation will result in consumers gaining a more thorough understanding of how honest air duct cleaning services operate and feel better prepared to turn away less than up-front companies,” said Christophe Samarou, owner of AAA Quality Air Duct & Carpet Cleaning, an air duct cleaning company that was awarded the BBB’s 2012 Torch Award for Marketplace Trust. “Many thanks to the Better Business Bureau for shedding light on this topic,” he added.
In addition to monitoring, correcting and reporting abuses in advertising and sales practices, the BBB continues to advise the public on how to make smart consumer decisions. When considering an air duct cleaning service, follow these BBB tips:
· Always check companies out with the BBB first and find BBB Accredited air duct cleaners by visiting denver.bbb.org or by calling 303-758-2100. The BBB offers independent reviews on thousands of companies, as well as a list of nearly 8,000 BBB Accredited businesses.
· Beware of any company that makes sweeping claims about health hazards of dirty air ducts. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems.
· Don’t fall for prices that are too good to be true. It’s common for usually low prices to not be honored. Compare costs with several other air duct cleaners. The BBB offers a complimentary “Request A Quote” service for all consumers and businesses.
· Get written estimates from at least three different service providers before deciding whether to have your ducts cleaned. If the service provider charges by the hour, request an estimate of the number of hours or days the job will take, and find out whether there will be interruptions in the work.
· Interview potential service providers to ensure that they are experienced and will use procedures to protect you, your pets, and your home from contamination.
· Note that air duct cleaners do not require a state license.
· Check with the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) which verifies that members have industry-specific training and education.
· Ask if the company is fully insured and has worker's compensation, if required.
· Ask for several references and research companies.
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About the BBB
The BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, BBB Business Reviews, BBB Charity Reports and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote business services, the BBB also offers dispute resolution services for consumers and businesses. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, there are 114 local, independent BBBs across the U. S. and Canada. Please visit denver.bbb.org for more information.