PHOENIX – Groups like NADCA have done a lot to boost the professional image of companies that perform duct cleaning, but the industry is still rife with dishonest contractors who prey on homeowners.

And their activities affect everyone’s reputation.

That was the message an executive with a Better Business Bureau branch serving southeast Florida and the Caribbean brought March 8 to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association’s 2016 annual convention at the Wigwam resort in Litchfield Park, Arizona.

During a session titled “Exposing Industry Scams,” BBB Senior Vice President of Operations Michelle Mason said the companies are fleecing too many people.
“This is a scam that involves hundreds of dollars,” she said. “It’s happening everywhere.”

And Florida seems to be an especially popular target, she said. Mason has appeared on television programs such as “Dateline” and “Inside Edition” to talk about signs that a deal is probably not an honest offer.

A big clue is price, she said, adding that few companies could perform a quality inspection or cleaning for as little as $50. She asked the audience how many of them have to deal with such lowball advertisements in their communities. Many raised their hands.

Checking the list

Another place many unethical duct cleaners seem to advertise is Craig’s List, she said. The free online bulletin board offers a platform to sell anything and there are no controls on who can post.

Mason said she has even seen employees openly bragging on social media websites such as Facebook about how much money they were able to generate off customers. A common scam involved a customer purchasing mold testing, which may not have been necessary. Then, the company sells the homeowner an expensive mold remediation package.

Out of all the records and ratings the Better Business Bureau keeps on duct cleaners nationwide, just 34 companies generated half of the complaints fielded by the bureau.

She congratulated NADCA for working to boost the industry’s integrity and professionalism.

“There are some bad apples, but overall, you’re pretty good,” Mason said.

Mason asked for NADCA members’ help in urging customers who feel they may have been taken advantage of to contact the BBB.
“The whole idea is to help each other share information,” she said. “Because we play that game of Whack-a-Mole. We’re never going to get rid of scams.”