Air duct cleaning scams have been around for several years, and firms promote the service as a way to assure that the air in your home is healthy. Often, the service is unnecessary. And unfortunately, many of these firms use bait-and-switch tactics to lure customers with a low advertised price, then charge much more for the service.
One local proprietor has been scamming local consumers for several years under various names. The Better Business Bureau today issued a new alert on businesses tied to Noach Palatnik, who also goes by the names Israel Palatnik and Aselector Palatnik.
The more recent names Palatnik has used for his duct cleaning businesses are Air Care and Show Me Air Duct and Carpet Cleaning. Other names he has used are US Air Duct and Pure Air.
Consumers have filed more than 60 complaints against US Air Duct and more than 30 against Pure Air. Complaints have been filed by consumers in Maryland Heights, Crestwood and other communities.
In many of the complaints, consumers said they called the company after seeing ads offering duct cleaning for $30 to $59.95. But when the company presented the bills to consumers, it was much higher, sometimes more than $1,000. Some consumers said the company failed to clean the ducts or vents properly.
The Environmental Protection Agency urges consumers to be cautious about claims made about the benefits of air duct cleaning. In general, the EPA says that air duct cleaning is unnecessary unless ducts are clogged with excessive dust and debris, if there is visible mold growth or the ducts are infested with vermin.
The BBB’s tips for consumers considering air duct cleaning include:
- Deal only with reputable companies, preferably businesses in your area with a good track record. Ask for references from homeowners in your neighborhood. Always contact the BBB for a Business Review by going to www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.
- Beware of advertising offers for air duct cleaning at extremely low prices. Often, businesses use these promotions to get an appointment and then try to sell additional services once they get inside your home.
- If a company discovers a potential problem in your furnace or ducts, do not be pressured into paying for additional services until you have contacted a heating and air conditioning professional for a second opinion. While the second company may charge you for a service call to check out the problem, the call may save you money if no service is needed.
- Try to have a friend or family member with you during a scheduled appointment with a salesman or service technician. If that is not possible and you feel threatened or intimidated during the visit, ask the person or persons to leave your home immediately. If they refuse or hesitate, call police.