Cooper shuts down dirty cleaning company
Release date: 5/11/2006
Air duct and carpet cleaner ordered out of business, barred from home improvement in NC
Raleigh: A judge today agreed with Attorney General Roy Cooper’s request to bar a carpet and air duct cleaning company that used misleading advertisements and illegal bait and switch tactics from operating in the state.
“Companies like this one that deceive customers and bully them into paying thousands of dollars for services they don’t need have no business being here in North Carolina,” said Cooper. “We’ve shut this company out of the state and also barred its manager from ever trying a similar scheme here again.”
Wake County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Titus today signed a default judgment against America’s Best Home Services and its manager Timothy D. Pollard to ban them from operating or working in a carpet or air duct cleaning business, home repair business, home improvement business or any business where products or services are sold in the home in North Carolina. The injunction also prohibits Pollard and the company from using deceptive advertising and bait and switch tactics.
Under the judgment, Pollard and America’s Best have been ordered to pay $95,000 in consumer refunds plus $425,000 in civil penalties. If Pollard and America’s Best fail to pay, the Attorney General’s Office will attempt to collect on the judgment and will contact eligible consumers if any money is recovered.
Cooper filed suit against America’s Best and Pollard last August. America’s Best began pitching home air duct and carpet cleaning services through advertisements in local newspapers and direct mail coupons in August 2004. Fullpage 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, mildew and unhealthy home air quality to push their services.
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 ninetyyear-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 136 consumers complained to Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division about the company’s deceptive practices.
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” but is now barred from operating any such business in the state. ###
NC Department of Justice y 9001 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27699-9001 y (919) 716-6400