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Beware of the cowboys

BCC and industry experts warn on profiteers making most of COVID-19 fears

Both the public and businesses are being approached by pop-up style operators from outside the established cleaning and hygiene sector, offering products and services which purport to protect buyers from the virus but can come with an exceptionally high mark-up or have no guarantee that they meet the correct standards or are fit for purpose. 

Everything from those selling facemasks at highly-inflated prices to the very serious issue of supposed ‘deep-clean’ operators with no history in the sector are causing concern.

British Cleaning Council chair Paul Thrupp says: “We are aware of many instances where the products and services they offer have been exceptionally overpriced, with no kind of guarantee that they will do the job.  People get spam in their email inboxes offering these products and services and it is all marketed in powerful and alarming language such as ‘Coronavirus’, ‘COVID-19’ and ‘ ‘pandemic’ and ‘only available whilst stocks last’. 

“People need to be careful who they buy cleaning and hygiene products and services from. The honest and reputable businesses which make up the BCC’s member organisations would not take part in such sharp practices.”

Pic credit-©-Jason-Smith-Dreamstime

Industry experts such as Delia Cannings, tutor / director at EETD Ltd and deputy chair of UKHA’s Midlands and South West region, believe some furloughed and self-employed people with a little knowledge from other sectors are trying to profit from the crisis.

Describing them as ‘wannabes’, she says: “Typically you have nurseries where both the staff and parents are desperate to get going again and someone comes along offering a supposed ‘decontamination’ service at great expense. It’s very worrying – they could just be spraying Domestos about.”

Cannings also fears this could lead to a further health crisis as premises opening may now contain poisons on wrongly cleaned surfaces, as well as damaged electrical equipment and computers. In one case she’s heard of, a business owner came in the day after a supposed ‘deep clean’ to find every plant in the building had died overnight.

BCC member The Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA) has written to the Competition and Markets Authority to call for an investigation. The CHSA also runs accreditation schemes for distributors and manufacturers of soft tissue, plastic refuse sacks and industrial cotton mops. If consumers see the CHSA logo and CHSA accreditation scheme stamp on cleaning and hygiene products, they should be reassured.  

CHSA chairman Lorcan Mekitarian, warns: “Unscrupulous profiteers are capitalising on the extraordinary increase in demand for essential products. Buyers need to be cautious to avoid being caught out, paying incredibly high prices for product that is not fit for purpose.”

[Featured image credit: © Vladimir Mucibabic Dreamstime]

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