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Cleaning scams and fly-by-night contractors

How to spot them and avoid getting scammed

Cleaning impostors

Every fall like the season comes the surge in demand for furnace and duct cleaning and with this demand comes the supply from licensed and certified businesses across town.

This is also the time when fly-by-night contractors appear all over Calgary and Southern Alberta. Some of these so-called ‘cleaning professionals’ come from as far as the Maritimes all the way to Alberta to make a few bucks and then disappear.

Unfortunately for unsuspicious Albertans these ‘too good to be true prices’ often mean an aftermath of dysfunctioning furnaces and ductwork, no-heat emergencies in the winter, and in many cases dirty ductwork that was only superficially cleaned to show quick results to name among unfortunate results of these scammers.

How do you spot them?

1. Better Business Bureau

The Better Business Bureau is one of the best tools to verify that a business is real, quick, and easy.

Check if the company is listed, their reviews, and rating here.

2. Google

Google them up, as simple as that.

Some of these companies will pose as real companies and could even have decals or insignia of the company they are posing for.

If in doubt, call the company and verify that is the crew that is supposed to service your home or business

3. Call them, yourself

Call yourself and request the service yourself.

This might seem obvious for some, but in many cases these ‘phantom companies’ engage in cold calling, mass email, or other methods to book homeowners.

4. Door to door salesmen

Just don’t, ever.

Whether it is an A/C tuning or cleaning aggressive door to door salesmen have trapped many in fake or subpar services.

If approached, politely request the salesman to leave. If he or she refuses to leave, call 911, as simple as that.

What should I look for in a good company?

1. Criminal Background Checks

All potential employees undergo a strict background check to ensure the safety of our operation and clients.

2. Workers Compensation Board.

A good company that cares about its clients and most importantly their staff will be registered with the WCB and in good standing with it.

WCB means peace of mind if any accident should happen in your home while servicing your house.

WCB Portal

3. Proper Liability insurance

Liability insurance provides an insured party with protection against claims resulting from injuries and damage to other people or property.

These liability insurance policies cover any legal costs and payouts an insured party is responsible for if they are found legally liable.

Alberta Home Services for example has a $5 million liability insurance. Which is considered a high-end amount in the cleaning industry.

4. Certifications

Serious companies will be certified not only by the province and municipality to operate their business but will also certify with industry regulators and organizations to keep the best practices possible.

Each industry has a certifying organism that is recognized as the industry’s best standard.

In the case of Furnace and Ductwork, it is NADCA – National Air Duct Cleaning Association. For Carpet and Upholstery, it is the IICRC – Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification.

Alberta Home Services is a member of both.

5. Service Awards

Awards are usually a great way to tell if a company is providing good service, customer care, good pricing, and other important factors.

Unfortunately, there are many awards, but only a few have a good ‘democratic’ process in place that relies on the customer’s feedback or proper market research.

Some of these awards can be The Reader’s Choice Award by the Calgary Herald and Sun or the ‘Best of Calgary’ administered by HomeStars.

6. Reviews and Ratings

While these can prove sometimes difficult to rely on, a good overall snapshot of the ratings from a combined number of sources can be a good indicator.

Some of the more reliable sources are:

Google Reviews

Homestars Ratings

Better Business Bureau Ratings

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