Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pitfalls to Avoid When Selecting Home Service Providers Including Carpet Cleaners

Professor Elizabeth B. Goldsmith
The author of the Carpet and Rug Institute’s publication, “Carpet Cleaning Tips for Dummies” is quoted in a New York Times article that advises readers on pitfalls to avoid when selecting home maintenance service providers. The article, titled, Avoid Fly-by-Night Cleaners by Making a Phone Call First” offers advice from various experts on how to select (and whom to avoid) when choosing a company to clean air ducts, repair basement water leaks, clean carpet, etc.

Here’s an excerpt from the article with Professor Goldsmith’s comments on choosing a carpet cleaning company:

“Beware of any company that offers a per-room price," said Elizabeth B. Goldsmith, a professor of consumer economics at Florida State University, who has written “Carpet Cleaning Tips for Dummies,” and other books.

A good company should come out and measure the square footage, she said. When the cleaners arrive, they should first vacuum. Furniture should not be moved back in until the carpet is fully dry, she said. I learned this the hard way, when the metal bottoms of some chairs were placed on a damp rug and caused rust stains. In addition, stain from furniture legs can sometimes run onto the carpet, Professor Goldsmith said.

The other option, as many carpet cleaners now do, is to place little plastic patches under all furniture legs to protect the freshly cleaned carpet.”

You can order a copy Carpet Cleaning Tips for Dummies from the Carpet and Rug Institute website or find good carpet cleaning information on the CRI website

Another way to find a qualified and reputable carpet cleaning professionals is to look at the list of Seal of Approval Service Providers located on the Carpet and Rug Institute website. These are cleaners who use equipment and cleaning products that have been rigorously tested and certified to work and have signed an agreement with CRI stating their commitment to ethical business practices. Just enter your zip code to find the businesses in your area

Congratulations, Dr. Goldsmith, and thank you for this information.



Kurt Gross said...

Hi Bethany,

I must post this in two parts to comply with the character limit.

Part 1 is here:

I read your article and I'd like to differ on a couple of points you made.

First let me say, the article is a good one and I appreciate your attention to the subject of protecting Customers.

I can see that you INTEND to help people, so I'd like to help you better do that, ok?

There certainly is a need for protecting the Customer from the bad guys/gals in this industry!

We have been cleaning carpet since 1987 and started multiple locations and we have tens of thousands of happy customers. Many have told us of horror stories from past experiences, so the need for education is there.

Regarding your advice to avoid carpet cleaners who give estimate prices on rooms, let me ask you a question.

What would you charge to visit my home, measure all the rooms, and then return to your office or home?

I'll assume that you wouldn't do this for free.

The reason I feel I can safely assume this is because there are costs involved on your part to perform this task, eg. time, travel expenses, overhead costs, etc.

I've found it much less costly to give an estimate based on the "per-room-rate" with the qualifier of a 250 SF maximum. And, LR/DR count as two rooms.

Yes, there are some rooms I lose on and some I gain on, but overall, it averages out in a typical home.

And, more impacting toward costs are things like setup, moving and replacing furniture, etc. that matter most, NOT the square footage of the open areas.

Additionally, many of the cleaners who want to "wait until I see your carpet to give you a price" have what is called the "bait-and-switch" agenda up their sleeve.

By waiting until they are in your home to give you a price, they hope to use their sales pressure and the fact that they are already in your home to gently but effectively get you to accept their service at THEIR price, not a FAIR price.

... see part 2 next


Kurt Gross

Kurt Gross said...

... from part 1 earlier:

These gullible customers do NOT need that. They are much, much, much better served by getting a price quote over the phone!

Your advice would greatly harm these people who can't stand up to sales pressure, and there are lots of them out there. Don't subject them to this poor advice you're giving!

Also, there is NO WAY that this method indicates anything wrong IN THE LEAST!

In fact, it's absolutely insane to draw such a conclusion.

It sounds good from the desk of theory, but had you ever cleaned carpet AS AN OWNER, you would have seen the obvious ignorance (meaning lack of knowledge, not the same as stupidity, ok, because that you are not).

By using the "per room" method, I am able to hold my costs down and give my Customer a better price.

And they can decide from the comfort of their home without me there whether they want to proceed.

The second issue I have with your article is the conclusion you make that belonging to an association indicates a better carpet cleaner.

Again, your lack of the real world is showing because that is bunk! All it really means is that the owner paid the membership fee.

It does NOT mean that the carpet cleaner who visits your home has had any 'extra' training or testing.

I used to be an accountant. Having the "CPA" after my name meant something. Being a card carrying, paid up member of a carpet cleaning association means nothing about their skills, let alone honesty, so drop that one quick.

Unless, of course you have a hidden agenda, in which case you might want to keep tooting that horn, but if it's to protect and help customers, it's a lost cause.

If you're going to write articles that effect people's livelihood, I suggest you know your material else you're going to hurt people, customers and business owners.

Articles like yours harm people, and for that, I think you need to reconsider your actions before writing in the future.

Like I said, I applaud your effort, but I am picking at these two issues because they are wrong and they harm people when I think your intent was to help people.


Kurt Gross

Bethany Richmond said...

Hello Kurt,

This is excellent feedback. Thank you for taking the time to respond and for offering such important information.

To your first point, it is important to note that this blog post refers to comments from a news item in the News York Times that were made by Dr. Elizabeth Goldsmith, a human economics professor at Florida State University. The Carpet and Rug Institute has a relationship with Dr. Goldsmith, in that she authored the booklet, Carpet Cleaning Tips for Dummies, which outlines the benefits of CRI’s Seal of Approval testing program for carpet cleaning solutions and equipment. However, Dr. Goldsmith does not speak for CRI or the carpet industry. CRI does not take a position on the potential merits or hazards of carpet cleaners offering per-room estimates over the phone. You make some compelling points and I intend to forward your responses to Dr. Goldsmith so she can benefit from the information as well as I.

On your second point that membership in a carpet cleaning association is bunk, I’d like you to consider a few thoughts on CRI’s Seal of Approval program. It is true, CRI cannot police everyone who signs the ethics statement that is part of the SOA Service Providers agreement – we can’t guarantee a SOA Service Provider will be a better, more honest cleaner. But, the program does strongly emphasize the importance of good training. CRI has stated often that even the best equipment can be rendered ineffective by poorly-trained personnel. In addition, by agreeing to use SOA-approved products, SOA SPs offer consumers the benefit of equipment and materials that have been tested and certified to work effectively. I noticed on your own blog you mention the importance of using carpet cleaning solutions that do not leave a residue behind that encourages resoiling – one of the primary requirements of the SOA solutions testing.

I don’t think your perspective and CRI’s are too far apart on this issue – I think there are more areas for agreement than disagreement. I am sorry you took offense at some of Dr. Goldsmith’s comments, but I am very glad you voiced your opinion here – that’s what this blog is for.


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