A Strongsville resident who owns an air duct cleaning service says many of his competitors are running a scam that uses scare tactics to bilk homeowners out of hundreds of dollars.
"It is a common occurrence for us to talk to customers who have paid over $1,000 to clean their ducts in a 900 square foot home, when the advertised rate was $149," George Grozan testified before state legislators Nov. 28.
A company technician convinces the consumers there is a mold problem, which frightens them into having their system cleaned at six times the advertised price.
Other times, the lowball price doesn't cover the whole system, leading to a "bait and switch" scam, Grozan said.
And often, the company only does part of the job, loosening the dirt in some areas and letting it fly through the system.
"Imagine your home covered in dust, right after you got your ducts cleaned. We see this type of situation on a weekly basis," he said.
The solution? Make companies register with the Ohio Department of Commerce before they can advertise or perform services.
Grozan has helped State Sen. Kevin Bacon, R-Columbus, draft Senate Bill 338, which would require firms to prove they have insurance and experience before they can register to clean air ducts in Ohio.
Customers would be able to check a company's registration through an online database.
"There are a number of companies using false advertising, insufficient equipment and untrained staff to make money from unsuspecting consumers. They trick customers and change their name every six months in order to get a fresh Better Business Bureau record," Grozan testified in Columbus.
Grozan owns Productive Air Duct Cleaning in Sharon Center.
The bill unanimously passed the Ohio Senate and is before the House of Representatives.
Grozan said the measure would be self-policing.
Unregistered companies could not bid on public projects and insurance companies would not insure them.
"In time, fraudulent companies will find their market share decreasing," Grozan said. "This will either force those businesses to shut down or start to operate in a truthful manner."