Carpet Scams

Here are some ways you can avoid getting ripped off by your Carpet Dealer.

Don’t Get Ripped Off

Learn how to avoid the most common scams used in selling carpet !

First Look At the Seven Carpet Truths

The Whole House Scam:

This involves attracting you to the store by offering “whole house” carpet installation for one low price; usually less than one hundred dollars. Don’t be taken in, as any logic will let you properly conclude that the dealer is making up the labor cost loss by over pricing the cost of the carpet and pad. There is no free lunch; talented craftsmen do not work for free or minimum wage. Also, when you read the “fine print” of these programs, there are heavy extra charges.

This type of advertising is more often seen in the big box stores. For example, Home Depot makes the customer purchase their “special pad” up to $8/sq yd. This eight dollars includes installation of the pad also. Maybe this is how they justify charging so much their pad. Also, in the “disclosure statement”, the customer is responsible for removing the doors. This service is included in most carpet installs by the majority of carpet dealers. This means that the “$97 Install” really is JUST FOR THE CARPET. Furthermmore, there is a heavy charge for moving furniture, pull up and disposal of old carpet and pad, and in some cases, even more extras for metals and thresholds. Combine this with the fact that HD must hire installers from companies that pay their installers the lowest wages, and you can see that HD may even be making money on their labor. (see Kerbo)

The Private Label Scam:

Not really a “scam” but more of a marketing ploy to prevent you the consumer from shopping using the old “apples to apples” comparison technique. Its kind of like buying a mattress, you can find the exact same mattress under 10 different “names” depending on where you shop. In the case of carpet, the most prevalent use of “private labels” is found in the the big box retailers, and large buying group stores like the Carpet One Chain of carpet stores. In this case, Carpet One uses the Bigelow label as if Bigelow made the carpet, when in fact, Carpet One bought the name Bigelow from Mohawk industries, and can use the “Bigelow” label on any carpet they choose. Yes, Bigelow is an old time mill, but they don’t make residential carpet any more. Furthermore, Burlington Industries sold the “Lee’s” name to carpet one, and thus , like the Bigelow name, we will see carpets with the Lees name on them that are really made by any mill Carpet One selects. Private labeling is now so prolific, that most larger carpet dealers use some sort of private labeling to keep true comparison shopping to a minimum.

Guaranteed Lowest Price Scam

This ploy is used by many of the giant retailers who want you to think their price is the lowest. The gimmick is to say that if you can find the same carpet elsewhere at a lower price, “we’ll meet or beat that price by 5%”. Of course you can’t find the “SAME” carpet elsewhere because the giant retailer has it private labeled. Therefore, the only place you will find the same named carpet is at a branch or division of the same chain. Someday retailers are going to learn that consumers are not inane.

The Boiler Room:

This scam brings a new meaning to telemarketing. The scam goes like this. First a person calls you at home, and explains he is from XYZ Carpet Corp. He says his company does big commercial projects. He may even mention some familiar names like Nike, Coca Cola, Nabisco, or any company his firm has done work for. Of course he has never really done business with those companies; its just part of the scam. He goes on to further explain how his company has leftover carpet from some big job. He explains how you, for a limited time, can take advantage of his incredible offer of carpet at below wholesale prices.

Now you’re hooked. You were thinking of purchasing new carpet anyway so you agreed to let this company send one of their agents out to see you in your home. A guy pulls up to your home in a Lincoln Towncar (you don’t know its a rental) , and he gets out wearing a $3000 suit (rented), and looking like Pierce Brosnon. Once in your home he puts on a show that includes measuring your home with flair, flirting, and showing you samples of carpet he has at “below wholesale” prices. He explains how this carpet is made of “Debulon” the most indestructible fiber ever created. He explains how Debulon is only used in the most expensive commercial jobs because its a fiber difficult to make. He further explains how this fiber will never crush, soil, show traffic, fade, smell, or wear out. You are so impressed you can’t wait to buy. Our sleezball salesman now explains how you need only 62 units of carpet to cover the floor of your living room. He goes on to explain that at $38.00 a unit you are stealing this carpet. What he doesn’t tell you is that a unit is 3 square feet. Remember a sq. yd. has 9 sq. ft. and is how carpet is normally sold. Thus, your carpet job of 62 units of “Debulon” only cost (38 x 62) $2355.00. If you had purchased carpet from reputable dealer, a midlevel carpet could be purchased for $38.00 a sq yd, (including best pad and labor) and would have only cost you $785.00. To add insult to the scam, the salesperson makes you sign an iron-clad contract to have the work done.

In summary, this scam has not happened in the Portland area for some time, but I would be suspicious of any company that offer’s “next day” installation. Be prepared. If you don’t know carpet, know your Carpet Dealer.

I Can Buy it Wholesale:

We all know a friend of a friend who can get for us almost anything at a cheap price. Those of you over forty know there is no free lunch. There are plenty of outlets where, if you know someone, you can buy carpet at close to dealer cost. I’d be cautious of anyone selling you anything at a price that appears too good to be true. If your most important part of the carpet buying process is price, you are doomed to be taken. The few places where you can purchase at broker prices do not provide any service other than selling you the carpet at a cheap price. They will not provide labor because then they would have to be registered with your local State Builder’s Board. Further, they are under no obligation to handle warranty claims, and usually refer you to the carpet mill rep. Also, if you are asked to pay the installer directly for any work, you could have a problem.( see below) Finally, if you do have a valid complaint, the broker is only obligated to supply new carpet at the dock. You would have to pay someone to reinstall the new, pull up and wrap up the defective piece, and haul the defective piece back to the dock. Now that cheap carpet price isn’t so cheap. You had to pay twice for labor, plus go through all the hassle of resolving your own complaint.

The Old Switchero:

You shopped for carpet and you found the perfect textured plush for what seems like an exceptionally great price. You happily placed the order with the dealer, and waited for the installers to show up at your door. Two weeks have gone by and you are anxious to have your new carpet installed. When the installers arrive they go right to work removing your old carpet and pad, cleaning the floor, moving the furniture etc. Soon they have the pad installed. The big moment arrives, and the installers roll out the carpet in your driveway to make the necessary cuts off the roll to fit your home. You notice that the carpet does not look as heavy or thick as you remembered . You even mention your concern to the installer, but he just tells you the carpet is crushed from being in the roll. The day passes, and the carpet is now fully installed in your home. You still wonder if it is the thickness you remember, but the carpet does feel good installed over the pad. You think to yourself that the carpet is just crushed from being in the roll. SORRY! You just got RIPPED OFF! Little did you know that the carpet you selected came in three qualities, and what the dealer had done was show you the thicker, and deliver to you the thinner. Thus, this particular dealer just made money dishonestly, and you were the victim. The real idea of a carpet coming in different qualities of the same color is to save you money. Sometimes you can put the more expensive one in the hall, and the cheaper one in the bedroom. Thus, it is in your best interest to work with a dealer you can trust so you won’t have to worry about The Old Switchero.

The Fiber Ripoff:

You were told that the carpet on the roll in the showroom was made of Stainmaster nylon. You made your purchase and had it installed. A couple of months go by and you notice that the carpet appears to be staining more than you thought it should. You call the dealer, but they just say you’re a poor house keeper. At last you call Stainmaster (Invista), (1-800-4- DUPONT) and you give then the “name” of the carpet you had installed. To your surprise you are told that the “name” you gave them is not a Stainmaster carpet. You remembered that you never saw a sample with the Stainmaster Logo on it, but were told by the salesperson that the roll of carpet you looked at was a Stainmaster nylon carpet. If your invoice does not say Stainmaster Nylon pile on it, then you’ve been had, and you have no recourse. Chances are the carpet you bought may not have even been nylon. Sometimes the Stainmaster Logo is printed on the back of the carpet, but more and more mills are not doing this due to some of the ink transferring to the face of the carpet. So make sure your invoice (sales agreement) has fiber identification on it.

Bait & Switch:

This SCAM is still going on in every major market area. The state of Oregon is actively addressing this tactic, but they are still under staffed to police this worst of all scams. In the carpet business the bait & switch works like this: A dealer advertises a carpet completely installed for only $13.99/sq yd including padding. The dealer may lie in the ad and even say the regular price was $39.99/sqyd installed. If you are from earth, you know this is just too good to be true. However there will be enough people who will believe this ad and visit the advertiser. The dealer just accomplished his goal of getting you in his store. You ask to see the $13.99 installed carpet, and he shows you this sleazy rag that you wouldn’t install in your garage. You ask about the quality and you are told that its not very good, but lady, what did you expect for only $13.99 installed. The dealer now shows you some other “quality” carpets for considerably more money. THAT’S IT. BAIT AND SWITCH. The larger dealers tend to advertise loss leaders in order to get you in their store. There is a fine line between “bait and switch” and loss leaders. Many loss leaders use the ad that states “Three rooms of carpet completely installed for LOW PRICE!”

The Pay the Labor Direct Ripoff

This scam is being used more and more by dealers who don’t have a contractor’s license, or those stores who want to give the impression they are saving the customer money. Like the “I can buy it for you Wholesale” section of this page, you the customer have no recourse with the dealer when solving labor disputes. In this scam you are forced to pay the installer direct for his services at the end of the day. If, however, you need something repaired that you did not catch on the day of installation, you may have a tough time getting the installer to come back and fix his mistake. Also, if the carpet should develop a wrinkle later on due to improper stretching, you may again have trouble getting the installer to come back. The dealer who sold you the carpet is only liable for the carpet. When possible, always pay the dealer for the complete package. This is the only way you will have any leverage in the field of consumer complaints. You may want to check out our Installation Tips before you pay for the labor direct.

All contents are the views and opinion of the author. While most carpet dealers are honest hardworking folk, this page is for information only and not representative of the norm. I am just trying to make consumers aware of what could happen. This page is Copyrighted not intended for reproduction without the consent of the author.