You've seen those low-cost ads that come in the mail. They advertise services like carpet cleaning or pest control at really low prices.
One Valley senior saw an ad for air duct cleaning and thought, why not? The price was just $5.95 per vent.
And she has a small Sun Lakes home.
So, Penny called the business, Arizona Carpet and Air Duct Cleaning.
She says she hoped to spend less than $150.
Workers came out and Penny says they told her the air conditioning ducts had issues.
"I was really frightened. I thought I was going to die, I'm breathing that stuff in," she told me.
Then she was handed the bill and says she didn't understand all of the charges.
But she did understand that the final price was much higher than what she thought she'd pay.
The bill was $2,100. And that's after a $700 discount, partly because she says, they liked her.
We called 5 other Valley companies as a potential customer. None said they'd charge us more than $500 for the same thing.
"I sat down and cried and realized they were not telling me the truth," Penny says.
The National Air Duct Cleaners Association, NADCA, warns about overcharges and scare tactics on their website
We asked one of NADCA's members, Air Quality Specialists , to take a look at Penny's air ducts.
The Glendale company has numerous certifications and has been in business for nearly 40 years.
They brought a camera, snaked it through the air ducts, and were able to show Penny what it looked like less than 2 months after the cleaning.
We saw solid bits and dirt.
Then we asked owner Sharon Altenhoff about one specific charge on Penny's invoice.
It was for some kind of fog for the house. And it cost $1,600.
She told me "I don't understand it. I don't understand why they did the house."
We couldn't locate Arizona Carpet and Air Duct Cleaning at any of the addresses we found for them.
We searched from Apache Junction, to Mesa to Tempe.
By phone, the company stood by the work and Penny's charges.
They did say they offered to re-clean Penny's air ducts, but that she declined.
Instead, we asked Air Quality Specialists to clean them.
And they did, showing us a dirty filter when they were done.
Penny says she can even feel the difference since she's been using her air conditioning system more often.
Before you hire an air duct cleaner or any business, make sure you check their reputation online.
Also, be wary of very low-priced ads. There will usually be many add-on charges.
And Sharon says not everyone needs air duct cleaning.
"Right behind your A/C in the intake will just be coated with dirt. That is a good indicator the system needs to be cleaned."
Read more about air duct cleaning at the NADCA website.
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