Taken to the cleaners by your carpet cleaners?

I wanted to have our carpets steam cleaned (no detergent) and started making calls last week. I called three different companies to get phone quotes. One company was a rec from a friend, one was an ad in the newspaper and one was a name I knew but found on the internet.

I asked a lot of questions on the phones, and I thought I knew most of the ways the companies will trick you such as:

Larger rooms not counting toward the deals

Extra charge for moving heavy furniture

Extra charges to get out stains

Stairs costing extra

I asked a bunch of questions of each company and spent extra time on the phone with the company I was going to use.

I actually chose the most expensive quote because it was still reasonable and I felt like the other two were so much less that I knew I was either going to get a sub-par job or prices would be raised when they showed up.

I talked with the company rep on the phone about pet stains and she said there was no guarantee they could get them out but they would try. No mention of an extra charge to do so.

We also talked about that they would move furniture such as couches, tables and desks but for extremely heavy furniture there would be an extra $25 charge per room. I told her I knew we would need that for my room and suspected for the dining room and Walsh’s room.

So first off the guy was late. I called when they were 30 minutes late. The guy called back 15 minutes later saying they were on their way. When they finally arrived they were one hour and a half late. (Michael had left with the kids at the 30-minute late mark.)

The lateness was not a good sign but I was willing to overlook that. So then I asked him to walk around the house and tell me which rooms he thought there would be the extra $25 furniture charge. He said all of them. (That would be more.)

Then he told that when they went to clean the pet stains they would need to treat it with a chemical to prevent it from smelling. The chemical would cost an extra $180.

In the course of walking around for five minutes in my house, the bill to clean my carpets has now doubled from $305 to $610.

I argued with the guy why hadn’t the woman on the phone told me about these things. She didn’t say anything about the extra charge for the chemical and acted like the furniture charge was only for excessive weight not just to move any furniture.

So after calling Michael and thinking about it for a few minutes, I told the guy I was cancelling the appointment and asked him to leave. He was flabbergasted and was talking fast trying to keep the business but never backed off of all the up charges.

The woman I originally talked to on the phone called yesterday to find out what happened. She was very apologetic. She seemed most concerned that they were an hour and a half late. She said he should have moved most of the furniture without the extra charge and that based on my description on the phone she didn’t think I needed the extra pet chemical. She offered to come back out and do it for the original price she quoted. I told her while I appreciated her call and the apology, I wouldn’t be doing business with their company.

I wish I had consulted Kudzu.com and asked friends on Facebook and I probably could have avoided this entire mess.

So what have your experiences been with local carpet cleaners? What other pitfalls are there to try to avoid? Which companies have you been very happy with? Which companies followed through with what they quoted on the phone – price and service?

What would you have done in my situation when the price doubled?

31 comments Add your comment


June 8th, 2010
9:22 am

We have always cleaned the carpets on our own. We have hardwoods on the main floor and carpet on the stairs in the bedrooms.
It is insane how they doubled the price like that. I’m glad you stood your ground and had him leave.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 8th, 2010
9:24 am

Belle – We have been using my dad’s little carpet cleaning machine but it had soap in it and I actually think it has made our carpets worse because the leftover detergent attract the soil so it seems to get dirtier faster — that’s why I wanted the steam with no detergent to get all the detergent out so the dirt will stop sticking!!!!

no carpets

June 8th, 2010
9:35 am

I don’t have so much as a rug in our house. I have hardwoods on the main level and I put commercial tile in the basement.

I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on a house, but when I was looking, lack of hardwood floors was a deal breaker.

I will never live with carpets again. I find them to be gross.

fred(with a lowercase f)

June 8th, 2010
9:36 am

I am going to rent a steam cleaner this summer to do the job. I can take the time to clean and the one time that we had a professional clean the carpets, the results were less than we expected. 3 houses ago, I had to clean a carpet due to an out of control party (which was definitely worth it) I thought that a steamer used 2 times with baking soda sprinkled on the floor in between jobs did a fantastic job. I just don’t think that the professionals do a job that is worth the money.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 8th, 2010
9:37 am

I used an excellent cleaner when we moved from our last house on the last house and he did an amazing job but I can’t remember his name or find his card — very frustrating!


June 8th, 2010
9:38 am

I have always had my nieces ex boyfriend clean my carpets..He worked for Stanley Steamers when they first met and later went out on his own..Since I’ve never paid more than $60.00 for my entire house (and he moved furniture) guess I’m not one to help you out :)..

He has cleaned the offices where I work twice in the last 5 years..No, we don’t move any of the desk or other furniture here, but the square footage is about 1200 ft. and he usually only charges us $150.00


June 8th, 2010
9:42 am

I’m getting ready to tear up carpeting in my house too. I can’t stand it. With two big dogs and two cats, it’s very dirty. AND it’s probably 10 years old anyway, so this weekend it is coming up, I can’t wait!!!!

I clean my own carpets too. Rent one from any grocery store, Walmart, etc. I’m not sure of the cost, but you have the machine for 24 hours. I much prefer to get one for two days, and take my time, and go over it twice in some areas.

I will eventually remove the carpet in the bedrooms, but the kitchen/dining/living room come first.


June 8th, 2010
9:44 am

ChemDry has always done a good job on our carpets. They have a proprietary stain remover that I use with great success — it’s a tiny bit expensive, but it WORKS, and I noticed you can buy it at Home Depot, now. I usually do them on my own with my shampooer — a pretty decent one that I got a couple of years ago. I run them with the shampoo, but i always go back over them with clear water to rinse. Takes a little longer, but it seems to cut waaaay down on the residue problem.


June 8th, 2010
9:52 am

I finally broke down and bought a Bissell a couple of years ago for $200. One of the best investments I’ve made. I used to have our carpets cleaned professionally but quite frankly, I really don’t see the benefit except that maybe it dries a little faster. It uses hot water & then heats it up more when you turn it on. You can decide if you want to use a cleaner or not. I usually spot treat with a cleaner where needed and then use a very diluted mixture of bleach and water. I do have light colored carpet and certainly wouldn’t recommend it without testing first. But we have dogs (and a kid and a husband) and the dogs seem to just carry the red clay in their paws so that our carpet ends up with a rust-colored tint.

I usually end up cleaning our living room carpet (the only room downstairs with carpet) every 4-6 weeks. The upstairs carpet doesn’t get done nearly as much because there is so much less traffic (plus I have no food & no shoes rule for upstairs and rarely do the dogs go up there).


June 8th, 2010
9:58 am

I like the look of hardwood floors but after visiting with friends that had them and noticing (had could one not) all of the noise made from women clomping across them like cattle in their boots and heels, I decided against it. Now I understand why my mother used to tell us not to “stomp” across the wood floors when I was growing up. Unfortunately, mothers aren’t passing that skill on to their daughters anymore.


June 8th, 2010
10:04 am

JMB I feel the same way, and I have two dogs that drive me crazy on the Pergo in my kitchen. That’s why I have chosen Vinyl peel & stick planks, that look and feel like hardwoods (textured). It’s very quiet and the dogs can’t tear it up. It’s fairly inexpensive, and I can probably put it in myself. I may bite the bullet and pay for someone else to install it, since my knees aren’t what they used to be…


June 8th, 2010
10:10 am

We have had a Bissell for years and love it. It is handy to get out in emergencies. I am getting ready to replace the carpet upstairs soon. We have hardwood downstairs and Berber in the family room and basement. Can’t help you out on this one…sorry!


June 8th, 2010
10:11 am

We primarily have hardwoods, but there is carpet in the bedrooms. In our new house, we’ve steam cleaned one of the boy’s rooms twice on our own (loooooong story), but in our old house we had to have the upstairs carpet cleaned several times while trying to sell. Unfortunately I can’t remember any of the names, but two of them we were VERY pleased with! We did get those two off of kudzu.com. I’ve found the services I get off of there are great. The reviews from other customers seem to be legitimate and give you a good idea of what you’re going to get. I highly recommend checking out the carpet cleaning companies on there.


June 8th, 2010
10:18 am

@ JJ: Thanks for the info and I’ll look into it. :-) I did buy a rather cheap Bissell ($150-ish) about 7 years ago, just to test a home cleaner out first before investing in a more expensive model, and it works very well! Haven’t had to replace it yet, but I only use it about twice a year, so maybe that’s why it has lasted so long. Also, as someone mentioned upthread, I run it twice over the carpets when I clean them and they look good for their age. The cleaners you can rent from the grocery stores are good too.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 8th, 2010
10:28 am

Joran van der Sloot confessed to killing the Lima, Peru lady!!!! see blog if you want to discuss! File this one under Holy Cow!



June 8th, 2010
10:33 am

I have never had my carpets cleaned without the guy charging a higher price when they actually came out than was orginally quoted. Once I insisted on the quoted price and said to just not do any of the ‘extras’ and he did it, but did a crappy job. I am pretty sure he left stains on purpose (told me they couldnt come out with the basic cleaners, I needed to pay extra) because after he left I went to Kroger and rented a Rug Dr. and the stains came right up.


June 8th, 2010
10:37 am

I think anyone that comes out and changes the prices that drastically are full of crap! I (thankfully) have never had that happen, but I am also not afraid to tell them to forget it either!

We have our own carpet cleaner (Bissel/Hoover). Overall, they do a pretty decent job. I wish I had thought to go back over it with fresh water! I just recently heard about it!

Our old carpet cleaner is finally toast and we just bought a new one that actually heats up the water. I haven’t tried it out yet though. I think it will likely do a great job though.


June 8th, 2010
10:51 am

Most of the stains that they tell you won’t come out, usually will, especially if the person has a clue as to what they are doing..The very first time that my nieces ex cleaned my carpet at home, he was able to tell me where I had my iron based on the stickiness (sp) of the carpet..I had spilled Dr. Pepper on the carpet upstairs and he was able to get that out with no problem.. All he did was spray it with water, put a white cloth over it and steamed it with an iron..No chemicals were used at all..

@JMB..I agree with you on the clanking shoes..We have the hardwood laminate flooring in our downstairs (now) and it’s not so loud..Not only are they not so loud, but are much easier to clean than real hardwood floors..


June 8th, 2010
10:59 am

I’m looking forward to getting rid of the old vaccum cleaner, and being able to run a Swffer around the house….


June 8th, 2010
11:32 am

I have been using a Bissell type carpet cleaner for over 20 years. Love how it gives me the freedom to clean as needed and feel it has been an investment in the lifespan of my homes carpet, which is 19 years old. It has a couple of frayed spots and has worn down in a couple of places, but it still looks good for the most part and I should get another 5 years out of it if not more. I had a cleaning company come out once, I felt like they could do a better job than I (ha ha ha). They kept adding things to the base price and they didn’t get out the stains and it did not stay as clean as it does when I do it.

I usually use less detergent than suggested; also on light colored carpet I use a small amount of bleach. In my husbands house he has a dark green carpet that is about 15 years old. This house had been a courthouse step auction house and when he was able to get into the house whole house was disgusting, rats and bugs everywhere. But some elbow grease and time he was able to get it in shape to live in it. Since we work on the “farm” we are always bring in dirt, lots and lots of red clay, between our work boots and the dogs, it is not easy to keep clean. But an evening of running the carpet cleaner works wonders. However we are planning of installing composite wood flooring soon since the linoleum flooring in the kitchen is cracking and peeling up. Our rental place in TN has composite wood flooring with a long guarantee. So much easier to keep up and I don’t worry about renters staining it or wearing their ridding boots and tearing it up.


June 8th, 2010
12:23 pm

I don’t have an issue with noisy shoes or stomping on my hardwoods because we do not wear shoes in the house. This rule prevents a ton of dirt from being tracked into the house as well.

I used Kiwi a few years ago and they didn’t try to charge any extra and they did a decent job.


June 8th, 2010
1:41 pm

I rent from Publix 2x a year for a good cleaning. We don’t wear shoes in the house either MomsRule, so the carpet and floors stay pretty nice.


June 8th, 2010
1:48 pm

@JMB and @JJ — have you thought about taking off your shoes as soon as you enter the house? we don’t walk around our house with shoes. If people visit, they are politely asked to remove their shoes. We have two kids and even after all the banging, dropping, throwing etc. etc. the floors are not noisy and not messed up. btw, our whole main floor consisting of kitchen, dinning room, living room, 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms have hardwoods.


June 8th, 2010
2:44 pm

I used Stanley Steamer a few years back, and got the same nonsence as Teresa. Received a low quote on the phone, about 220 or so, and by the time they came out, the price had doubled to over 450, even without the 150 stainmaster “extra” work. It stayed wet for a long time, and despite my complaint to them, they still call me from time to time to see if I want them to come back! They also knocked over a platter I got from my grandmother. Since that time I always check kudzu out before I pick a vendor.

Van Jones

June 8th, 2010
3:30 pm

I think most of these folks get a high commission on any additional charges they can get you to pay. We have used a few and the tech always gets flustered when we don’t want the expensive Scotchgard, etc.


June 8th, 2010
5:00 pm

Theresa: this is my 3rd attempt to post…they keep vanishing…


June 8th, 2010
5:10 pm

did you try trustdale.com???


June 8th, 2010
5:14 pm

Teresa, you did the right thing. File a report on one of those websites, report to the office of consumer affairs also!


June 8th, 2010
5:31 pm

JJ, when I had hardwoods in an apartment, swiffer and a broom didn’t quite do the trick, but if you add a cheap minivac to the mix (one of those dustbuster-on-a-stick things) to use once a month or so, you’ll be all set.


June 9th, 2010
9:26 am

I’ve never had a good experience with carpet cleaning companies. Always more expensive than what was quoted. We’ve used several and it’s always the same story. They were much cleaner when my husband and I did it ourselves with a cleaner we rented from U-Haul rentals. I am looking forward to ripping up the rest of the carpet in my house. (2 more rooms) Thanks for the tips on other options besides traditional hardwood!


June 21st, 2010
10:50 am

I couldn’t agree more there are so many cleaners that are out there to take advantage of people. It gives people like me a carpet cleaner a bad name.