State Files Suit Against Two Air Duct Cleaning Services
NEWARK – The Office of the Attorney General through its Division of Consumer Affairs has filed suit against two air duct clearing services based in Bloomfield, alleging the companies were not registered to perform home improvement work and used ‘bait-and-switch’ tactics against consumers, among other violations.
The defendants, United Air Care, Inc. and Indoor Air Care, L.L.C., advertised “Whole House Duct Cleaning” for $39.95 to $69.95, but then induced consumers to purchase more expensive services. The ads touted the health benefits of clean air ducts to consumers. Defendants advertised and performed home heating and air conditioning installation and servicing, which are home improvements, without being registered as home improvement contractors with the Division
The two companies shared common addresses in Bloomfield, at 85D Brookdale Gardens, 53 Main Terrace and 90 Broughton Avenue. It appears that United Air Care has ceased operations and that Indoor Air Care is employing the same persons and using the vans and telephone numbers previously associated with United Air Care.
The state’s eight-count Complaint, filed in State Superior Court in Essex County, alleges that the defendants violated the state’s Consumer Fraud Act, the Contractor Registration Act, the Contractor Registration Regulations, the Home Improvement Practices Regulations and the Advertising Regulations by:
- Offering for sale specific air duct cleaning services, where the purpose of effect of the offer is not to sell those services, but to bait or entice the buyer into the purchase of other or higher priced services;
- Failing to register with the Division as a home improvement contractor and then advertising and/or performing home improvement work;
- Providing through direct mailings, coupons offering air duct cleaning services at a specified price, and then failing to provide such services at that price;
- Causing damage to a consumer’s home while performing air duct cleaning services and then failing to fix, clean or compensate for the damage;
- Misrepresenting that a consumer will receive a refund or reimbursement;
- Failing to include in home improvement contracts cancellation language, the total price and/or the date or time period within which work is to be commenced and/or completed;
- Requiring that consumers sign estimates and then failing to provide consumers with a full and accurate copy of the document; and
- Advertising “Whole House Duct Cleaning” for a specified price (i.e. $37.95, $49.95), then failing to perform the services for that price.
“I cannot overstate the importance of verifying that a contractor is registered before signing a contract for any home improvement work,” said David Szuchman, Consumer Affairs Director. “Our contractor registration law is designed to protect consumers and also bona fide home improvement firms.”
To date, the Division has received 61 consumer complaints as to the defendants. The state’s lawsuit seeks to enjoin defendants from performing home improvement work unless and until registered with the Division, consumer restitution, reimbursement of the state’s attorneys’ fees and investigative costs and maximum civil penalties.
Consumers may file complaints with the Division online at www.nj.gov/oag/ca/ocp/ocpform.htm or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within N.J.) or 973-504-6200.
Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Kant of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section is representing the state in this action.