We’re excited to announce that Oliver has joined the Angie’s List Experts community in 2014! Each month, we’ll be contributing an article that addresses homeowners’ concerns. In our first article, we addressed those duct cleaning daily deals that appear in our inbox every day. How can you separate a genuine deal from a headache in the making? We’ve got three tips to help you figure it out:
I love daily deals. They offer great opportunities to get to know my neighborhood better and try out new services and restaurants. But if you’re like me, you’re looking for more than a one-time deal – you’re looking for a hidden gem, a local company that will earn your repeat business. So it’s really frustrating when a “deal” turns into a hassle, or a high-pressure situation that requires you to purchase additional items or services that weren’t included in the offer.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret – I’ve also been on the other side of the coin. As a marketing coordinator in the home services industry, I’ve placed several daily deals to let new customers know about us and what we do. My experience with daily deals has taught me valuable lessons that I’d like to share with you. I’m going to use duct cleaning as an example because it’s a hot item lately in daily deals, but I hope that you can apply these lessons whenever you suspect a deal is too good to be true.
1. Are they auditioning for you? Or practicing on you?
A daily deal is an opportunity for you, not a business, to try something new. Before accepting a deeply discounted offer, especially of a service like duct cleaning where someone will be entering your home, take a few minutes to find out about the company. Their name should be listed in the ad, period. If not, you should take that as a red flag and move on.
Make sure they are properly licensed and insured, and that their technicians are trained and certified for the work they will be doing. A reputable provider should be able to tell you about their membership in professional associations, and the training programs their employees complete, such as the National Air Duct Cleaners’ Association (NADCA), which requires yearly training and testing.
As always, anyone entering your home to perform a service should be a professional – are they driving a marked vehicle? In uniform? Do they provide floor and shoe covers to protect your home? These are questions you should ask about any home service, and you shouldn’t compromise on the answers for the sake of a deal.
2. Do you understand and know exactly what you are buying?
My favorite daily deals are for restaurants – I can try something new, but I still know what to expect when I get there. My expectations for a clean environment and friendly, prompt service are the same whether I’m using a deal or picking up takeout from the Chinese restaurant that greets everyone in my family by name.
Going with our duct cleaning example again, if I’m purchasing a deal to have this service done for the first time, I would call the company to make sure that someone there can explain the process to me. A reputable company will not only be able to walk you through it, but will also ask questions about your home to give you an accurate estimate of the time and any materials that will be needed to complete the job.
For instance, they should ask you how many thermostats you have, where they are located, the location of your heating and air conditioning system, and how many total vents you have. If you don’t have prior experience with a product or service, you should look into it to make sure that the deal covers all of the basic elements. It’s also a good idea to check the fine print and make sure you’re getting the deal from a reputable third-party source that can resolve disputes or offer a refund if needed.
3. Where’s the money?
We all know that companies are in business to make money – they have expenses to meet, employees to pay, and at the end of the day if there isn’t a profit, there isn’t a business anymore. There are two ways that a company can make money when they offer a daily deal: they can either try to run up the cost of your first experience with them, or they can try to win you as a customer for the long term.
According to Consumer Reports, the average cost for a whole home duct cleaning is between $400 and $1,000. So when you see a deal for $99, $49, and even $29, you need to ask yourself where that company will make their money. Some of the clues are in the listing: If it reads “unlimited supply vents,” but doesn’t mention return vents, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise. On the other hand, a reputable company will offer you a complete basic service and encourage you to become a repeat customer of their full-service options.
Dirty ducts? We can help! Click or call today to request a free, over-the-phone estimate! This article was originally published on AngiesList.com as part of the #ALExperts series.