Homeowners, BBB Warn About Air Duct Cleaning Deal
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - How much do you really know about cleaning your home's air ducts?
Chances are you probably wouldn't think about cleaning them yourself, but you might consider hiring a company to do it -- especially if you found an online coupon to get it done.
But NewsChannel 5 Investigates found that deal may not be such a bargain. And customers said they paid one company more than they should have and got little in return.
"Do you really know that much about mold and duct work?" NewsChannel5 Investigates asked Mike and Gina Smith of Thompson's Station.
"No," they replied, laughing.
That's why, when they saw a $50 online deal for an air duct cleaning company known as Duct Boyz, they decided to take advantage of it.
Instead, they said, they were the ones taken advantage of after they got the bill for their $50 deal.
"The total came out to be like $583," Gina Smith explained.
When the Duct Boyz crew arrived, the Smiths said the workers told them their coupon didn't cover all of the ducts and vents in their house.
They said the Smiths needed their furnace and air conditioning coils cleaned too.
And then, according to the Duct Boyz crew, Mike Smith recalled, "They said we had mold, I think, in all of the vents."
And that would cost another $225 to clear mold out of their entire system.
The Smiths went ahead and paid, but said they were shocked then when soon after the Duct Boyz crew packed up and left.
"They were done in ten minutes, doing the mold treatment in ten minutes, yet they told you it was going to take two to three hours to do?" we asked.
"Yeah, that's when it hit me -- wait a minute -- something's not right here," Gina Smith answered.
The couple said the two man cleaning crew was at their house no more than half an hour and one of the men spent the entire time talking to them.
They said the crew never brought in a ladder even though there's no way to reach several of their vents without one.
And, as Mike Smith discovered when he went to give us a look inside his air system, this vent clearly had not been removed in years.
As he found, it pulled off the wall's original paint when he took it down.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "So you paid to have those vents cleaned?"
"Yeah," replied Gina Smith.
"And you don't believe they cleaned them?"
"No, they didn't," she continued.
The Better Business Bureau's Kathleen Calligan said she is very familiar with the Duct Boyz.
"These guys were unbelievable," she exclaimed.
She said complaints like the Smiths' prompted the BBB to have one of its people call Duct Boyz. And Calligan said their experience was similar to the Smiths'.
"What we found was disturbing," she shared.
The BBB had a $39 Groupon coupon, but Duct Boyz tried to charge the BBB's customer more than $500 for things that the BBB said its own expert told them they didn't need.
Calligan said the Duct Boyz crew did not clean all of the vents, as promised.
And while the Duct Boyz website claims they use special HEPA negative air machines to clean their customers air ducts, the BBB insisted the cleaning crew that came to their house had only a standard shop vac.
"We were concerned enough to give them an 'F' rating. And we've also issued an alert. They are now on the BBB of Middle Tennessee's 'List of Companies That We Can Do Without,'" Calligan stated.
Meanwhile, our investigation found that, while Duct Boyz claims it is certified by three major industry groups -- NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaners Association), IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification), and the IAQA (Indoor Air Quality Association) -- none of the three has any record of the company.
And when we went to what they advertise as their Nashville office, we found a realtor who told us her firm has been there for more than 10 years.
After repeated calls to Duct Boyz, we finally got a call back from a man who claimed to be with the company. He said he was sorry for the problems customers here have had.
But when I tried to ask him about the false information on the company's website and why consumers should believe him now, he apologized and hung up.
We also found Duct Boyz made the state Consumer Affairs Office's most recent Buyer Beware List, we're told, for failing to respond to customers' complaints.