I hired Sears (Lorton, VA office) to clean the carpets in a house I was renting. They were selected because they are a national chain and my landlords are very picky about their carpets and demanded approval of the company prior to my being able to contract them. Sears was very accommodating in scheduling and answering some questions, one of which was if there were going to be extra charges for pre-treating. The scheduler said that it was a two step process where the carpet would be pre-sprayed and then steam extracted. I thought this was acceptable so I went ahead and scheduled the service.
The technicians showed up on time and walked through the house. The lead tech said that the master bedroom was a room that would need to be considered 2 "areas." I did not dispute their findings, agreeing to pay the extra $45.00. After walking through the rest of the house, the lead tech and I agreed that there would need to be a red stain removed. he explained that they could do it but that would be an extra $75.00. Again, I agreed to the fee because I knew that the landlord was very picky and would try to ding me on it. So, the original quote was $339.00 + the $45.00 and the $75.00, but when he showed me what the final charges were it was up to $1, 189.00. I of course asked him where the extra charges were coming from, he responded that it was for high-traffic area cleaning and stain protection. I mentioned that I was renting and that I did not want to pay $270.00 for stain protection. He said that he was required to do it for the warranty, but, that he liked me so he would remove the charge, but, that I could not tell anyone or he would be in trouble. He then pointed out that the other charges were non-negotiable and that he had to charge me for it. I was in a quandary because this the Friday before Memorial Day and the landlord would be in on Monday to do the close-out inspection. So, against my better judgment I agreed to pay $859.00.They started to clean the carpet which aside from regular use was in good shape.
After approximately 2 hours they finished. When they left, the carpet looked pretty good. They instructed me to close the windows and turn the air conditioning down to 65 degrees and the carpet would be dry in four hours. I did as instructed, although it did seem odd. I left for the day and came back the next afternoon to find large areas of browning everywhere they sprayed the high traffic treatment. I was horrified, knowing that the landlord was going to freak out. I tried calling Sears and spoke to the scheduler, he said he would take my info and have quality control get back to me at 7:30 a.m. on Monday.
This where it gets ugly!
I did not hear from the for three days, only hearing back after repeated calls. At first, they said they were going to send out Quality Control, but then said that they would send a technician out to try to re-clean the carpets. One week after the initial cleaning they sent out the new cleaning team. They tried to clean the carpets, concentrating on the brown areas. The tech tried very hard really working on those areas. After he left, the carpet again looked pretty good. But, after a day, the carpet began to show signs of rippling and still had light brown staining everywhere the 2nd attempt to clean had been concentrated. The landlord called to say that Sears had now damaged the carpet and that I needed to see it. So I called Sears again to have them look at it. Four days later they sent out Quality Control to have a look. He agreed that the carpet was damaged but, he thought he could get it looking good and once that was done, would have a contractor look at it to see if the damaged areas could be repaired. This was now two weeks after the initial cleaning. The next week, Sears contacted me to schedule the QC tech to out to personally clean the carpet. When the tech showed, it was not QC but another team to try and clean it again. The team lead looked at the carpet and said he did not want to attempt to clean it for fear of damaging it worse. He went back to his office and told them his findings. I called to find out how the problems were going to be addressed, being told that they were being looked into. At that point I stopped payment on the check I had written, explaining that when they resolved the issues I would remit payment.
I received an e-mail a few days later (we are now 3 1/2 weeks pat the original cleaning date) saying tha they would have to take pictures of the damage and would need to send someone out. They sent the original QC person to take pictures (even though he took them originally). He was surprised that the problem had not been resolved yet and he would have it taken care of as soon as he returned to the office. It was another few days before I heard from Sears. One of their supervisors called to apologize for how long this had taken and promised to have it resolved immediately and should have been resolved in one day. She held to her word (we are now in the 4th week) and sent another Supervisor out to asses and correct the cleaning issues. He worked very hard to get the carpets clean, explaing that the staining was caused by a pH problem. He then said he would have a carpet contractor out to repair the damaged areas. This was nearly 5 weeks after the initial cleaning.
I received a phone call from the first supervisor stating that since the carpets were cleaned to an acceptable level, I needed to remit payment before they would continue to try to rectify the problems. I made payment because my landlord would not return my deposit until Sears corrected the issues. I explained to Sears that I was hesitant to make full payment because I would lose leverage on getting them to complete the repairs. They said they would not act further until my account was paid in fill and that they would send me to collections if I did not pay. After making payment the Supervisor said ahe would get back to me to schedule the carpet contractor. That was a week ago, we are now in our sixth week trying to resolve the problem.
I received a message from the supervisor today, stating that since the original cleaning team had checked a box that said there was rippling in the house, that they would not take responsibility for any damage to the carpets. I explained that there was no rippling, that when the last cleaning team came out, one of the techs happened to be on the original team and said that the rippling was not there. That the landlords had seen the carpet after the first team had left and there was no rippling. I went on to explain that I had photos of the carpet after the first team left and the staining occurred and there was no rippling. The rippling occurred after the second team tried to clean the carpet a week later. She explained that since that box was checked, Sears had no liability in this case. I asked if that gives a license for Sears to damage customer's carpets and not be liable for the damage. She said that they were a reputable company and that they would never do anything like that. I pointed out that we were 6 weeks into this process and that if they were truly a reputable company this would have been resolved immediately and I would not be in the position to lose my $2, 400.00 security deposit because of their incompetence.