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Carpet cleaner pleads guilty in bait-and-switch scam

The owner of a Los Angeles-based carpet cleaning company has pleaded guilty to 10 criminal counts resulting from a pricing scam, said officials from the Santa Monica city attorney's office.

Sharon "Sean" Gilboa was convicted of four counts of grand theft and six counts of false advertising.

His company, which operated throughout Southern California, was formerly known as Clean Dry USA but later did business as Target Carpet Care, Clean N' Dry Carpet and SoCal Dry-Tech. It ran glossy ads in the Clipper magazine, Money Mailer and other circulars, offering to clean three rooms of carpet for $49.95 using special "dry" cleaning technology.

But customers reported that the company sent a representative who used bullying, intimidation and false statements to coerce them into paying much more than advertised. Elderly customers were charged more than other customers, and most customers' carpets were left wet and in worse condition, said Deputy City Atty. Adam Radinsky.

An 85-year-old Santa Monica woman brought the scam to the city's attention. A company representative demanded she pay $2,000 to clean the carpet in her 570-square-foot apartment. When she balked, he lowered the price to $995, then to $795. Intimidated, the woman finally agreed to pay $560. Her carpet was wet for three days, and the company did not return her calls.

"This is a shameful scam," Radinsky said. "We caution everyone to use carpet cleaners only after verifying that the company is legitimate, with a real location, a local business license and a good rating with the Better Business Bureau."

Under an agreement with the Santa Monica city attorney's office, Gilboa was sentenced to three years' probation. He was ordered to provide full refunds to all known customers, totaling more than $20,000 and to perform 360 hours of hard-labor community service. He also was barred from operating any cleaning business in California and must discontinue his company phone numbers and advertisements.

-- Martha Groves

Comments () | Archives (6)

Shades of "California carpet care" and Dr. Spot Carpet Care

I was a victim of Target Care too. They sent a student, well he claims to be. I told him I dont enough money for 200 because I thought I am just paying 20 dollars. He told me I can go to an ATM while he waits and I said, no, that wont happen. He wont leave the premises and I got scared so I said go ahead. Then I paid him with check, gave him 20 dollars as tip. My carpet was so wet and I knew I was being scammed so I called my bank to cancel check. THey keep calling for my money, I told them an AIr Force Officer and explained to them that I know they are scam artists.

Mr. Gilboa should be forced to clean everyone's carpet by himself.
If a ad sounds to good to be true it probably is.

I just went through a scam with a web design company that too was operating a scam of bait, switch, intimidation, web sabotage and the list goes on. I lost my money, but learned to pay the guy with a operating business a little extra instead of falliing for these cheaper than believable prices! IF IT SEEMS LIKE TOO GOOD OF A DEAL, IT IS! I'm such an easy target. Nice midwestern raised single woman. They see me coming each and every time. My daughter and I now have the buddy system, I read her deals and she reads mine. We are both present when others come into our homes as support.

I have a carpet cleaning company in Victorville, CA, and have been in business for 31 years. In order to survive in the service business for that length of time, under the same name and same owner, one must be honest and always provide the best service you can, usually by providing more quality service then the customer expects.
I've seen 'fancy' ourfitted companies come and go, mostly go, because of the temptation to take advantage of honest people, using some form of bait and switch format or doing poor quality work and charging a high quality price.
My point is that any service business can be fully successful if they respect their customers business and provide a quality service...its as simple as that.

There are two ways to clean the carpet. One, you can rent a steam cleaner and do it yourself. Two, you can hire a professional carpet cleaning service in the San Diego area. Cleaning the carpet yourself can take many hours, so it might be best to hire a professional carpet cleaner if you have a busy schedule.


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