Ohio AG Sues Duct Cleaners

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced a lawsuit against Rob's Cleaning Service LLC, a Columbus-based air duct cleaning business, and owner Robert Kimberly. The lawsuit charges the business and its owner with multiple violations of Ohio consumer laws, including misrepresentation and shoddy work.

"This business used a classic bait-and-switch scheme," said Attorney General DeWine. "It advertised low-cost vent cleaning services, but regularly sold consumers more expensive services that cost several times more than the advertised prices. It also used high pressure tactics and failed to provide consumers with cancellation rights."

Rob's Cleaning Service LLC advertised duct, ventilation, furnace, and appliance cleaning and repairs. Its principal place of business is in Columbus, and it is owned and operated by Robert Kimberly of Reynoldsburg, Ohio. The business also occasionally used the names "Ductman" or "The Ductman."

According to the Attorney General's lawsuit, consumers typically contacted Rob's Cleaning Service after seeing an advertisement. Employees would give consumers an estimate over the phone, but once at the consumer's house, they would say that additional services were needed or that the cost would be much higher.

Consumers reported that employees pressured them into agreeing to the services and occasionally billed consumers who said they did not want the services. They also reported that scare tactics were used to induce consumers to pay hundreds of dollars for mold removal that was never confirmed even existed.

One consumer contacted Rob's Cleaning Service and received a phone estimate of $109.99 for new vents. When employees arrived at her house, they told her she needed a new cold box, repairs to her furnace, and a bacteria cleaning. Despite stating that she did not want these services, the business performed the services that day and charged the consumer $1049.63.

Dozens of consumers have filed complaints about Rob's Cleaning Service or Ductman with the Ohio Attorney General's Office or the Better Business Bureau, and the Attorney General believes that additional consumers may have been affected.

The lawsuit charges the business and its owner with violating Ohio's Consumer Sales Practices Act and Home Solicitation Sales Act. In the lawsuit, the Attorney General seeks permanent injunctive relief, full consumer restitution, and civil penalties.

DeWine offered Ohio families the following tips:

  • Be skeptical of claims about the health benefits of duct cleaning. These claims may be unsubstantiated by scientific and medical communities.
  • Research companies and get written estimates from several businesses before paying a duct cleaning service.
  • Ask for references. Check with the Ohio Attorney General's Office and the Better Business Bureau for any complaints filed against the business.
  • Be aware that Ohio currently does not require air duct cleaners to hold special licenses.
  • If a company claims that mold has been found, conduct a visual inspection yourself. Unless a substantial amount of mold is visible, cleaning may be unnecessary.
  • Confirm the presence of mold in your air ducts with another source. Don't rely solely on the in-home test the air duct cleaner may conduct.
  • Check with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for guidelines on having your air ducts cleaned.

Consumers who believe they have been treated unfairly by Rob's Cleaning Service, or another business, should file a complaint at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.

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