Piles of trouble for carpet cleaner
On 4 March 2013 at Redhill Magistrates Court, carpet cleaner Steven Mark Flynn from Bournemouth pleaded guilty to three offences under the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
In December 2012, a 53 year old female Surrey resident received an unsolicited phone call from Southern Counties Cleaning Group informing her that there was a special promotional offer to have the carpets in two rooms cleaned for £20.00. The resident was tempted by this offer and enquired how much extra it would cost to have a small hallway and toilet cleaned at the same time. She was advised that the extra work would cost an additional £5.00. As this appeared to be a very attractive offer, the price was agreed and an appointment was made to have the work carried out in January 2013.
On the agreed date, Steven Flynn from Southern Counties Cleaning Group arrived at her home to carry out the work. He commenced work in the bedroom but while he was there, he showed the victim something white on the carpet which he explained indicated a major carpet moth infestation. He informed the victim that she ought to have the carpets, sofa and curtains treated at an additional cost of £300.
Flynn appeared to clean the carpet with a machine and sprayed the curtains, parts of the mattress and the sofa. After a couple of hours, Flynn presented the victim with a bill for £1671 which was much more than the £325 she had been expecting.
The victim paid the bill using two credit cards but this has subsequently been refunded in full by her credit card company under the provisions of section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 thanks to the intervention and persistence of the investigating officer.
In April 2013, Surrey Trading Standards Service arranged for an independent carpet cleaning expert to examine the carpet. It was established that there was absolutely no evidence of carpet moth which is hardly surprising given that the carpets are made of synthetic fibres and carpet moth only live on natural fibres. The expert also found no evidence of the carpets being cleaned professionally.
The court were clearly unimpressed with Flynn who has previous convictions for offences involving dishonesty and he was sentenced with a 12 month community supervision order to include 300 hours of unpaid work, a three month curfew enforced and monitored through the use of an electronic tag requiring Flynn to remain at home between 10pm and 6am every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In addition, he has to pay the victim surcharge of £60 and the full prosecution costs of £910.