Woman's $7 per vent duct cleaning turns into $1,100 bill

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DELTONA, Fla. —

 A Volusia County woman claims she was taken to the cleaners by an air duct cleaning company that advertised they would clean home air ducts for $7 per vent.

However, Lucille Wheatley said she couldn’t believe the bill from Vacuvent after techs spent an hour inside her Deltona home.

"They charged me $1,100,” she said.

The bill included $450 for duct cleaning and $450 for sanitizers, but Wheatley said she never saw the workers perform the work.

“All of that was not done," said Wheatly.

Wheatley said she paid $180 for a high-end filter, but it was never installed.

Wheatley also claims she never authorized the extra services and had to finance payment through the company at 26 percent interest.

“I really don't have that kind of money,” she said. “I can't afford that."

Wheatley’s been challenging the bill for months.

In a test home last year, an Action 9 volunteer requested the advertised $75 duct cleaning from Vacuvent, but was told to really clean the system, the actual cost was close to $4,000.

“The ad was $7 an air duct. Suddenly it's thousands of dollars,” said Action 9’s Todd Ulrich.

“It was optional services,” the technician said.

Vacuvent, also known as Coastal Environmental, has an F rating at the Better Business Bureau.  

There have been 37 complaints since Action 9’s first investigation, and many customers claimed a $40 cleaning turned into hundreds or thousands of dollars in charges.     

Vacuvent told Action 9 a manager talked to Wheatley last month and it is considering a refund. The company said all charges are fully disclosed as options only.

Wheatley said she feels the techs saw her as an easy target.

“Maybe they thought, ‘She doesn't understand,’ and, ‘I'll throw this on her and get away with it,’" Wheatley said.

If your family has frail health or allergies, duct cleaning in older homes can be a good idea, but insist on complete estimates before the work is done and use a credit card so you can dispute unauthorized charges.