You may get a phone call offering free carpet cleaning. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns this is often a come-on for a sales pitch. You may think you are getting a no-obligation service, but afterward you will be pressured to buy a vacuum cleaner or some other appliance, cleaning product or service. You can avoid carpet-cleaning scams if you know how to handle telemarketers and salespeople who try the free-carpet-cleaning pitch.
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Read entry forms thoroughly before signing up for drawings at shopping malls, stores, trade shows, conventions and anywhere else. Contests are often a way for vacuum cleaner companies and businesses to collect names, addresses and phone numbers for solicitations. They don't have to honour the do-not-call registry because you give them permission to call by entering the contest. The "prize" will be a free carpet cleaning that gets the salesperson into your house.
Question any caller who offers a free carpet cleaning. Ask for the name, address and phone number of the company and local references, and ask whether there will be any type of sales pitch after the cleaning. Beware if the caller is evasive and refuses to give specific information. Scam telemarketers will not want to let you know they are really working for a vacuum cleaner company or other business and that the cleaning is a come-on to sell you something else.
Refuse to set up a carpet-cleaning appointment without checking out the information you've been given. Scam carpet cleaners will pressure you to make an appointment immediately because they don't want you to do any research. Tell the caller you will contact her if you want to set something up. Hang up and research the company. Check the company's rating with the BBB.
Call back and ask to be placed on the company's internal do-not-call list, if you discover it is a scam, advises the BBB. Otherwise, it can continue to contact you if it got your number through a contest entry. The company may even have cold-called you, because many scam companies do not abide by telemarketing laws. Let the contact person know you will complain to the Federal Trade Commission if the company bothers you again.
Tips and warnings
- Some companies use surveys as a way to avoid telemarketing laws. In this variation of the carpet-cleaning scam, someone will call you claiming to be doing market research and ask a few seemingly harmless questions. He will call back a few days later, saying you won free carpet cleaning, and the scam will follow the usual pattern of sending a high-pressure salesperson to your house.
- You may have trouble getting a salesperson to leave your house if you fall for a carpet-cleaning scam and make an appointment. The Better Business Bureau says to call the police if a salesperson refuses to go when asked or if you feel threatened in any way.
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