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St Louis BBB Warns Consumers To Be Wary Of Air Care, Duct Cleaning Firm

St. Louis, Mo., April 23, 2013 – The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recommends that consumers use caution when dealing with Air Care and Show Me Air Duct and Carpet Cleaning, two new St. Louis area businesses tied to Noach Palatnik.

Palatnik is the former owner of US Air Ducts and president of Pure Air, both companies with dozens of customer complaints with the BBB.

The BBB has received several reports in recent weeks from consumers who said they received automated “robo” phone calls from Air Care offering air duct cleaning specials at prices ranging from $30 to $59.95. Consumers who hired the firm said technicians charged them for additional work once they arrived at their homes.

“It was not a good experience,” an 82-year-old Maryland Heights woman told the BBB after Air Care charged her more than $1,000 last month for what she thought was a $59 service call.

US Air Ducts, which has also used the name US Air Duct, has logged more than 60 BBB complaints; Pure Air has been the focus of more than 30 complaints.

Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said Palatnik’s involvement in the new companies is reason for concern. “Mr. Palatnik has a troubling history with consumers and the BBB,” Corey said. “Consumers say US Air Ducts and Pure Air have used bait-and-switch promotions. There is no reason to believe these new companies will be any different.”

Palatnik, also known as Israel Palatnik or Aselector Palatnik, first came to the BBB’s  attention in 2011 as owner and president of US Air Ducts.  US Air Ducts reported an address on Kingsland Avenue in University City.

In November 2011, the BBB issued a news warning about US Air Ducts, noting that consumers complained they were lured by advertising flyers promising $49 air duct cleaning only to be hit with bills of $1,800 and more.

Shortly after that warning, Yogev Buskila told the BBB he had purchased the equipment and business of US Air Ducts from Palatnik. Buskila said he had set up a new, independent duct cleaning firm called Pure Air. Within weeks, customers of Pure Air began complaining of bait-and-switch marketing tactics similar to those alleged by customers of US Air Ducts.

Even though Buskila claimed that Palatnik was no longer involved with Pure Air, Missouri secretary of state records show Palatnik as the current president of Pure Air.

Buskila told the BBB earlier this month that he did not know why Palatnik is listed on the documents. “I am the owner of Pure Air,” he said.

In February, Palatnik registered Air Care as a fictitious name with the secretary of state, indicating that business was owned by Pure Air. Both companies list addresses on Tulane Avenue in University City. Buskila told the BBB he was not aware of any company called Air Care. In January of this year, Palatnik registered Show Me Air Duct and Carpet Cleaning at the same Tulane Avenue address.

The BBB has been unable to reach Palatnik despite repeated attempts.  A woman who first answered the phone at the Air Care phone number said that no one named Palatnik or Buskila worked for the business. But several days later, when a BBB investigator called the number again, another woman said that Palatnik was not available.  That woman said she did not know why anyone would say Palatnik did not work there.

Customer billing forms for US Air Ducts, Pure Air and Air Care are all strikingly similar, with virtually identical wording.

The Maryland Heights woman said she was stunned when an Air Care worker handed her a bill for $1,043. She said there had been no previous discussion about any charges above the $59 fee. “He knew I was upset,” she said of the technician.

An Air Care customer from Crestwood, also 82, said she also agreed to the $59 Air Care special, but ultimately was charged $135 for what workers said was additional cleaning.

She said her son noticed later that her dryer vent, which was supposed to have been included in the cleaning, was “loaded with dirt” after the workers left.  “They hadn’t even touched it,” she said.

She also was suspicious when the workers declined repeated requests to give her a business address.

Since Air Care came to her home, she has received several automated calls from the same company.

BBBs in St. Louis and across the nation have issued numerous news alerts on duct-cleaning companies.  Law enforcement agencies have sued some firms for defrauding consumers.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urges consumers to be wary of any company that makes sweeping promises that air duct cleaning will improve residents’ health. The EPA suggests cleaning in cases where there is visible mold growth, vermin infestation or if the ducts are clogged with excessive dust and debris. It also says that homeowners need to fully understand the pros and cons of using chemical treatments

The BBB offers the following tips for consumers looking to hire a duct-cleaning firm:

 

  • 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.

 

 

The BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior.  The BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews of more than 4 million companies, 11,000 Charity Reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust.  Please visit www.bbb.org for more information.

Read more: http://interact.stltoday.com/pr/business/PR042313103612654#ixzz2RVyHZhBD

 

RCS provides NADCA trained and certified duct cleaning services for St Louis and Southern Illinois.

Honest UPFRONT pricing with 15+ years of experience , means you get what you pay for, a through cleaning meeting or exceeding NADCA standards.

Clearing the Air: What an HVAC cleaner should really do in your home

Filthy furnace fan, can you imagine not having this cleaned?

 

(ARA) – Those statistics about indoor air pollution and it’s relation to respiratory problems convinced you it was time to get your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) cleaned. You were even looking forward to the increased energy efficiency that a clean system can provide. But $49 and one very noisy service call later, you’re still sneezing and you haven’t seen any dip in your energy bill.

 

 

 

What happened?

“A very low service charge may indicate the service provider isn’t performing a thorough cleaning and maintenance of your home’s entire HVAC system,” says Matt Mongiello, president of NADCA, the HVAC Inspection, Maintenance & Restoration Association. “He or she may have done nothing more than blow air through the ducts and clean off vent grills inside the home. A cleaning performed to NADCA standards – which are cited by the EPA as a best practice – encompasses much more than just the ductwork.”

 

HVAC companies are among the top 10 industries with the most complaints, according to the Better Business Bureau. So how can a homeowner know if a service provider is doing a good job, or just blowing hot air?

The EPA recommends you interview companies to ensure they have experience working on your type of system, that they will take steps to protect your home and everyone in it from contamination, and that they comply with NADCA’s air duct cleaning standards.

NADCA members carry general liability insurance, have at least one person on staff trained and certified as an Air Systems Cleaning Specialist, and clean and restore heating and cooling systems following the association’s standards and guidelines. A job done to NADCA standards should include:

* A thorough inspection of the HVAC system before doing any work, and full disclosure of any problems discovered during the inspection.

* Examination of metal ductwork at several random sites to ensure the interior surfaces are free of visible debris.

* Cleaning of both the supply and return air ductwork.

* Removal, cleaning and resetting of all supply registers, return air grilles and diffusers.

* Cleaning of the supply and return air plenums.

* Inspection and/or installation of access panels.

* Cleaning of the air-stream side of the heat exchanger and cleaning of the secondary heat exchanger.

* Removal, cleaning and reassembly of the blower motor.

* Cleaning and inspection of the blower blades and blower compartment.

* Cleaning of the evaporator coil, drain and pan. If the cooling coil is clean, light should shine through it when you point a flashlight at the coils.

* Inspection and repair of the coil fins if needed.

* Replacement of air filters.

* Washing of the air cleaner.

While some companies may tout “duct-cleaning” for very low prices, be wary of these offers,

Mongiello, advises. “A cleaning typically costs between $450 and $1,000 per heating and cooling system, depending on the services offered, the size of the system, how easily accessible it is, the climate in your region and how dirty it is,” he says.

Many of those variables will influence how long the job takes, too. Before you hire a contractor, contact at least two NADCA member companies to provide you with a time estimate for the job. “You’ll get an idea of how long the job should take,” Mongiello says. “But in general, a service provider who’s in and out of your home in an hour or less may be leaving out some steps that are necessary to do the job right.”

Finally, Mongiello advises, feel free to stick around while the technicians do their job. “As long as the homeowner’s presence isn’t compromising anyone’s safety, there’s no reason a consumer can’t observe how a job is done,” he says.

To find a NADCA-certified HVAC cleaning company in your area, visit www.nadca.com.

RCS has NADCA certified air systems cleaning specialists on staff, we clean to nadca standards every time.

Contact us  or  314-518-1681

Attorney General Sues Air Duct Cleaning Pros

Three months after the Better Business Bureau warned the public about a deceptive air duct cleaning company based in the Chicago suburbs, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed a lawsuit charging that the company fraudulently charged homeowners for mitigation of mold and mildew that did not exist in their homes.
Lisa Madigan
Illinois Attorney General

Madigan filed the lawsuit Jan. 27 against Moshe Kesem of Schaumberg, Ill., and his two companies, Warranty USA Inc. and Air Duct Cleaning Pros. The suit says that Kesum showed consumers fake pictures of extensive mold or mildew damage to their homes to convince them to buy additional services that they did not request or approve.

The BBB has taken more than 60 complaints about Air Duct Cleaning Pros in the last three years, including several in the St. Louis area. In many of the cases, the company advertised that it would clean ducts for $79 or $89. Once the company did the work, they billed customers for hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Air Duct Cleaning Pros has an “F” grade with the BBB, the lowest grade possible.

“The company targeted vulnerable seniors and deceived homeowners into purchasing services they didn’t need,” said Madigan. “Consumers should know illegitimate contractors are always scamming people out of their hard-earned money. So homeowners need to investigate contractors before signing contracts and beginning projects.”

Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said that reports on file with the BBB in Chicago paint a portrait of a company that uses advertised specials to obtain access to consumers’ homes, and then uses high-pressure sales tactics to get them to pay for additional work.

“This appears to be a classic bait-and-switch that tempts consumers with low-cost offers and then hits them with a variety of add-ons,” Corey said. “To say that this raises ethical concerns is certainly an understatement.”

In November, the St. Louis BBB issued a press release warning that Air Duct Cleaning Pros was actively soliciting business in the St. Louis area. Consumers said that they called the company about the advertised offer, then were shown photos purporting to show extensive mold or mildew in their ducts. The cost of the work was often 10 or more times the advertised price.

An 86-year-old widow from Glen Carbon, Ill., told the BBB that a company employee coerced her to pay $500 in October, after she responded to an advertising flyer for a $79 duct-cleaning special. She said that when she stopped payment on her check, a company official became so threatening that “I was afraid to sleep for two nights.”

Five homeowners in one neighborhood answered the ad. At least two of them said they were shown the same pictures of dirty ducts by employees of Air Duct Cleaning Pros.

Madigan said Kesem regularly tacked fraudulent charges onto bills to address fictional problems. He targeted seniors for services they didn’t need and often charged them for word he didn’t do. One consumer said she paid $2,494 to get Kesem and his workers to leave her home.

Madigan’s lawsuit alleges violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the Home Repair and Remodeling Act. She asked Cook County Circuit Court to bar Kesem from working in the home repair trade in Illinois. The suit also seeks to cancel pending contracts and obtain restitution for consumers victimized by the company.

Air duct cleaning scams are rampant in many areas. On Sunday, Jan. 30, the NBC program Dateline aired a piece produced with the BBB and consumers in the Huntsville, Ala., area. The piece is online at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032600/#/41303740.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urges consumers to be wary of any company that makes sweeping promises that air duct cleaning will improve residents’ health. The EPA suggests cleaning in cases where there is visible mold growth, vermin infestation or the ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris. The agency says that homeowners need to fully understand the pros and cons of using chemical treatments.

The BBB offers the following tips for consumers looking to hire a duct-cleaning firm:

  • 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 Reliability Report by going to www.bbb.org or calling 314-645-3300.
  • Beware of advertising that offers what seem to be extremely low prices for air duct cleaning. Often, these ads are used by businesses expecting 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 not 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 your local police.

The BBB advises consumers to check out a company’s Reliability Report before doing business. Reports are available at www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300 during business hours.

Original story link: http://www.enewsbuilder.net/stlouisbbbnews/e_article002004630.cfm?x=bk5gCKW,bbgBbmhc,w