BEAVERTON -- Some customers in the Portland Metro area have complained that a local air vent cleaning company has tried to overcharge them and push unnecessary services.
Dustin Sether was living the American dream. He and his wife just bought a home in Beaverton. But since his new home was built in 1944, he wanted to make sure everything was up to snuff.
He admits his air vents needed cleaning.
We just got the house and they were pretty filthy, said Sether
So he and his wife saw a coupon in the paper and decided to contact the company. Portland Green Home Services was offering a great deal, $99.95 to clean ten vents.
But when the crew got there, Sether said something didn't feel right.
They were dirty, they were driving their own personal car with a magnet on the side of it. There was no professionalism and they were rude right out of the gate, said Sether.
The couple said the great deal quickly disappeared and the job estimate ended up being $1,400.
Sether said the cleaning crew claimed that his house had mold and the $1,400 would help pay for mold removal chemicals and pesticides.
What Portland Green did not know was that the Sethers already had their home inspected and there was no mold found.
Sether said that the Portland Green crew used scare tactics when Sether refused their services.
They were like, your family is at risk. You are going to breathe in things that you can die of, said Sether.
Across town in Northeast Portland, Chuck and Ruth Williams also saw Portland Green's coupon for $99.95. They, too scheduled an appointment.
I knew right away that something was wrong, said Chuck. He said the two Portland Green workers didn't do a lot of working. They were salesmen. They were selling how good of work they do and you can't live without it, Chuck recalled.
The Williams' price tag quickly soared to $1,900.
The Portland Green crew claimed that Williams needed air condition coil cleaning for $74 as well as $129 for air handler/house cleaning, $270 for a germicide, and $450 for mold spray. The crew also suggested he purchase a maintenance program for $179.95.
I'm very very angry, said Ruth Williams, Chuck's wife. She believes Portland Green smooth-talked her husband.
We are nice people. He (Chuck) believes everybody, but I don't believe anybody, Ruth said.
Williams talked down Portland Green down to $1,200. When they left, the Williams canceled their credit card purchase.
So is Portland Green breaking the law? What you may not know is that a license isn't required to clean air ducts in Oregon.
We've received 11 complaints, three of them resulted in civil penalties, said Richard Blank, with the state of Oregon's Construction Contractors Board.
Those three civil penalties were due to citations received by Portland Green for advertising work or performing work as a contractor.
By definition, a contractor installs or makes changes to a building structure and Portland Green isn't licensed to do that.
Right now the CCB is investigating another case against Portland Green. In all, 15 complaints have been filed against the company with the Better Business Bureau. Portland Green closed ten of them by coming to an agreement with the consumer. Five complaints were filed against the company with the Oregon Attorney General's office.
Last fall, the Department of Agriculture issued a cease and desist order, accusing Portland Green of using pesticide sprays without a license.
Portland Green gave KGW the phone numbers of five happy customers, but three of those customers told KGW they felt overcharged and one customer said the company used scare tactics to sell her a package.
In response to our questions, Portland Green released this statement:
At Portland Green Home Services, We do NOT:
-Engage in bait & switch tactics.
-Condone the use of scare tactics.
-Charge for any services the customer has not approved in writing.
Any technician that fails to uphold these standards will be re-trained or terminated, as needed.
At Portland Green Home Services, we DO:
-Work hard to carry out the services requested by the customer in a tidy, professional, and complete manner.
-We have cleaned thousands of systems in Portland [and] are able to satisfy the vast majority of our customers.
-Do our best to resolve any complaints through the efforts of a dedicated customer service manager.
The company has no shortage of customers. When Newschannel 8 called them last week, we were told they were booked solid for the next two weeks.