weed out cowboys from entering your home.
We have all heard the expression 'cowboy traders' and it's probably one of our worst nightmares - allowing someone in to your home that you thought you could trust, to carry out a good job and they then proceed to rip you off.
It's something we hope that doesn't ever happen to us - and we like to think that we are switched on and be able to spot these cowboys and stop them in their tracks.
But what if you can't spot them - and risk them coming in to your home?
Well before they even get near your home, you need to ask them 7 easy questions to determine whether they are genuine professionals or 'after a quick buck' cowboys. So, here are the things you need to ask:
1). Have you been professionally trained?
I know it sounds a bit daft right - training for just a bit of carpet cleaning? I mean you can hire a carpet cleaning machine - with no training, so it can't be that important right? Unfortunately this is very WRONG. You see, it is very very technical indeed and not as easy as you think.
Let me ask you a couple of questions: What is the ideal ph value that a carpet should be left in? What is 'off gassing', what is the construction process of nylon or bonded flocks? Ok, your not going to know the answers but it is these and HUNDREDS of others that we ask ourselves every day when carrying out our tasks. It's this critical knowledge of chemistry, manufacturing and cleaning that parts a proper professional to a chancer and a guesser. Even after 30yrs, a professional still learns something new every day.
2). Are you certified by any trade associations?
A trade association like the National Carpet Cleaners Association is a governing body that has specific training and industry news that really any professional should be part of. There are even in depth industry exams just to pass. Also part of the criteria are having the correct insurance, and all members must carry out industry standard processes and run an ethical ship.
3). Do you use the most powerful cleaning systems available?
This is a contentious issue, as most companies will say that 'their' system is the best, so it's bound to get confusing. It is an industry fact, that if the most powerful system is used that it will clean a carpet much better and leave it much drier. But how do you know what 'the most powerful system' really is? It's quite easy.
You see, the most powerful systems are NOT what is plugged in to your home's electric socket (despite what the company says). The most powerful ones are either run on petrol, diesel or LPG. They generate much more suction, pressure and heat than any electrical machine - this is a 100% fact. We call it a 'mobile cleaning plant' because it is independent and even contains the waste tanks so nothing is poured down your sink or toilet - filling it with grit particles.
4). Do you offer a full money back guarantee?
If they don't offer this - then run a mile! It means they want to take your money and run. Any genuine professional will say to you - 'we can pre clean an area for you and if you don't think there is any difference, then we will not charge you a penny and walk away. If you are happy then we will carry on'. But even if the job is completed and there is a clear issue, and you are not happy for whatever reason, then they should refund all your money. Real professionals only want to please people and have clients who recommend their services.
5). Do you have proper insurance?
If the cleaning company say nothing - then they haven't got any! It costs money of course, but is critical in not only covering them - but also you. You see, if there is no cover, and an issue arises - what are they going to do? Yes, they are going to run like the wind, and leave you with a big bill. THIS IS WHY IT'S IMPORTANT.
BUT, even if the cleaning company say 'yes' to having insurance - have they got the right one? You would be surprised to hear that there are a large amount of cleaning companies who DO NOT have the right insurance. They may say that they have 'liability insurance', well guess what? That's not going to cover you. Yes it will cover your home - but it will not cover your furnishings that the cleaning company are 'cleaning'.
This type of cover is called 'Treatments Risk' insurance. This is what covers you. Unfortunately, for the cleaning companies that actually do have insurance and think this is enough are completely oblivious to the huge risk that they are taking. These companies are usually domestic cleaning companies - who 'add on' a service of 'carpet cleaning' etc to their list of services - without even realising that they have no cover. This usually goes hand in hand with no training too - but we have already mentioned this above!
6). Is your price fixed, with no hidden extras?
Some companies are quite unethical (what's new right). What can happen a lot is a system called 'Bait and Switch' an illegal practice indeed. First they advertise an incredibly cheap price (let's say £10 a room), to bait you in to ringing them. You ask 'is that all I am going to pay' and they say yes of course. What happens next is quite shocking, but when they get to your home they 'demonstrate' a so called clean, then demonstrate another clean (slightly different processes) which is much better. BUT if you want the better clean then you are pressurised in to going for the MUCH more expensive clean. Terrible isn't it? But it goes on EVERY day in the UK. Here is a Watchdog special on this very subject...more
A genuine company will give you a fixed price promise guarantee - that means you will be given written/printed clear costs - and no pressure selling to a different service. You would normally recieve the best possible service without underhand practices.
7). Do you carry out free surveys?
Not all companies like to visit prior to cleaning, but guessing isn't in the remit of a professional outfit. Not only is it good to see what we are actually cleaning, but also to go over any issues or concerns you may have. This would always be a free service and it really is of great benefit to both parties. If they won't visit or want to charge, then you have to ask why. Do you really want them in your home if you feel uneasy about them?
If after having asked your cleaning company these simple questions - and they do not respond positively to ALL of them, then you need to ask yourself - who really are these people?
Is it worth the risk? Don't forget, if after getting a problem through hiring a 'cowboy' and you try to contact them to sort the issue - they will traditionally ignore your calls and never return.
So the moral of the story is, you don't have to be sucked in by the gift of the gab, persueded by slick sales and consequently taken for a ride. It's easy to weed them out - just try the 7 questions above - and see if they can answer any of them - or dismiss them as irrelevant!
Author: Kevin Loomes