Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How Not to Clean Your Carpet

From July 29, 2000

Since my house had recently become catless, and was about to become rabbitless as well (and therefore entirely petless), I thought it would be nice to have the carpet in the whole house professionally cleaned – no more fur or dander, a fresh smell, that sort of thing.

So I signed on to have a national carpet cleaning outfit over for a house-wide treatment. I have a big house, so it sounded like a decent deal. When the salesman said that his people would move all the furniture themselves, that clenched the matter for me.

The workers showed up promptly Friday afternoon: two guys, one about my height, the other one even bigger - between the two of them, clearly capable of manhandling my furniture. The bigger fellow was the boss, and he did most of the talking. I thought it was a little odd that he left a religious tract on the kitchen counter and tried a couple of times to start up a religious conversation (I chuckled when he saw the crucifix on the wall and asked me if I was a priest). I told myself that in a little while I would have nice clean carpet, so I just chatted with them while they worked.

As they were about to start on the last room, I ran upstairs to see how the rooms looked. I thought it odd that the master bed was exactly where it had been, as was my computer desk in my upstairs office. I don't know if you're familiar with carpet cleaning equipment, but it's not exactly the kind of stuff you can just squeeze under a bed and still reach the whole carpet.

Puzzled, I went back downstairs and asked the cleaning fellows if they had any trouble moving the bed. I was surprised when I was told that they don't move beds because their insurance won't allow it (not quite all the furniture after all).

Concerned, I called the cleaning company's office and asked to speak to the manager who had sold me the package. He wasn't in, but I did get another manager who explained that their insurance didn't allow them to move heavy furniture like beds, and that a computer desk wasn't a piece of furniture because it held an appliance (i.e. a computer).

Frustrated, I pointed out that I had been sold a package in which the cleaners were supposed to move all the furniture, and that no distinction was made at the time between normal furniture and other kinds of furniture. The manager replied by repeatedly saying that was the deal, that I really didn't want carpet cleaners to move an expensive computer around, that there was really nothing to be done, etc.

Angered, I pointed out that the time to tell me this was when I was buying the service, not moments before the job was about to wrap up.

Still aggravated, I then told the guy in my house (you remember, the one bigger than me) that I had a problem: they weren't delivering what I had purchased.

That's when things started to turn really ugly: the big cleaning guy started arguing with me. We went around for a few minutes until he started yelling at me. Then he reared back on me.

Clearly this guy had used the tactic to intimidate helpless little old ladies and various widowed grandmas over the years.

I told him that no one talks to me that way in my own house, adding that it was time for him to leave.

He kept shouting at me.

"Get out of my house!" I demanded.

He stood over me, nose-to-nose, and continued shouting.

We went around this way for a few minutes. Then, abruptly, he said he wasn't going to leave without his equipment. I told him to get his equipment and leave. Then he said he wasn't going to leave without being paid. I told him that he would be paid when he left the house.

He still didn't leave. But he did keep shouting.

Though the guy was stupid to have reared back on me, I hadn't been physically harmed, so I opted for the subdued measure of mentioning a call to the police.

He told me to go ahead and call the police - and added that he would take me to court for failure to pay.

I dialed 911.

After a long 10 minutes, two cruisers pulled up. In the interim the big guy and I had gone around several more times. The police stayed until the two guys left.

All of which is an object lesson in how not to clean your carpet.


Subsequently, I attempted to contact the company to express my dissatisfaction -- I left several voice messages, wrote a couple of letters, and sent dozens of emails, but I failed to receive acknowledgement.

Meanwhile I was receiving repeated phone calls from them thanking me for my business and asking when they could come back out for another cleaning. It was only after I threatened legal action if they didn't quit harassing me that the calls stopped. Incidentally, on that last call I was told that the employee had had other problems with customers and finally been fired.

Sic semper tyrannis.

1 comment:

Rose Blue said...

Sounds like a job for.....da da da daaa............Better Business Bureau Man. Nothing like a super hero to save others from the same fate. ;-)