Raleigh: Attorney General Roy Cooper took legal action today to stop a carpet and air duct cleaning company that advertises low prices but illegally pressures consumers into paying thousands of dollars for extra services.
“This company woos customers with alarming photos of dust mites and low price offers to rid your home of them,” said Cooper. “Its sales agents come into people’s homes and prey on their concerns about mold, mildew and unhealthy home air quality, then bully consumers into paying thousands of dollars for unwanted services.”
Cooper today filed suit in Wake County Superior Court against America’s Best Home Services of 6220 Angus Drive in Raleigh and its manager Timothy D. Pollard, asking the court to permanently shut down the business and order the company to pay refunds to consumers and civil penalties to the state.
As alleged in Cooper’s complaint, America’s Best began pitching home air duct and carpet cleaning services through advertisements in local newspapers and direct mail coupons in August 2004. Full-page ads for America’s Best included frightening photos of giant dust mites and offers of whole house air duct cleaning for $49.95 to $69.95 and carpet cleaning for $34.75. Consumers who responded to the offers were visited by America’s Best “technicians,” actually sales people who used rude behavior and scary stories about mold and mildew to push their services.
Cooper contends that America’s Best also used illegal bait and switch tactics, baiting consumers with low price offers in its ads and coupons and then switching them to extra services that cost as much as $2,000. One couple who responded to an ad for $69.95 air duct cleaning was bullied into paying more than $1,700 for three hours of work. According to a ninety-year-old customer who was also pressured into added services, the technician spent most of his time preparing a contract for more than $1,000 in services but left within minutes of receiving a check.
A total of 14 people have complained to Cooper’s office about America’s Best, while another 17 North Carolina consumers complained to the Better Business Bureau. According to these consumers, America’s Best did not provide price lists or notify customers of their three-day right to cancel their contract with the company. When customers tried to cancel or sought refunds, the company ignored them.
Cooper’s office believes that Pollard opened similar cleaning businesses in other states, including Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina, then shut them down when consumer protection authorities began to investigate. He previously operated a carpet cleaner in North Carolina called “Rite Clean.”
“I won’t stand for companies that use scare tactics to pressure consumers and deny them their rights,” said Cooper. “To protect your hard-earned money, steer clear of businesses that push you to make a now-or-never decision.”
The Attorney General’s office thanks the Better Business Bureau of Eastern NC and its counterparts from other states for their assistance in its investigation.