PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A couple of Southern Maine chimney companies are warning their customers to beware of telemarketers who offer a chimney cleaning for $50. They claim the chimney workers who show up, often try to convince the customers they need a new chimney liner. And that $50 job skyrockets into the thousands.
Earlier this month, Ed Walsh has a liner put in his chimney by Lysco Contracting, a company that called him up offering to clean his chimney for a third of what is usually costs.
"They were [back] in about 5 minutes," said Walsh. "'Oh...you gotta have a new chimney liner.' How would I know?"
Walsh gave the go ahead to do the work right away and says the men were finished well within the hour.
The bill? More than $2,400.
Paul Pickett of Pickett's Chimney and Bill Soule at A-Top Chimney are hearing similar stories from several of their regular customers who were cold-called by Lysco.
Lysco employs a telemarketing company to set up numerous cleanings in the same area. That's how Lysco says it can do cleanings so inexpensively.
Pickett was called to Walsh's house by Walsh's oil company.
"It was totally hooked up wrong. It was endangering those people, so i immediately pulled it out," said Pickett.
Picket didn't charge walsh fot the removal and says Walsh doesn't need a liner.
We contacted Lysco, which is based in Massachusetts, but lists an office in Augusta.
Adam, who did not want to give his last name, says Lysco workers are all licensed technicians and the company stands by the quality and safety of their work. Lysco says it has video and still pictures to prove that Walsh did need a new liner, and that not having one is dangerous.
Adam estimates only 5 percent of Lysco's chimney cleaning customers are told they need new liners, and those who do are never pressured to do the work right way.
Walsh admits, he's the one who insisted. "I've always been trustful, I said just do it... Please do it," Walsh told NEWS CENTER.
"If someone calls you up and is available to come over the next day to do a sweep, I'm willing to bet there is something wrong. Before you do extensive work, get a couple of estimates," said Soule of A-Top.
Maine law states that if a company contacts you, either by phone or by knocking on your door, they have to have a signed contract three days prior to any work being done, clearly stating that you, the customer, have three days to back out. Lysco says emergency service work is exempt from that clause, but the company did not explain the lack of a contract for the cleaning work.
Ed Walsh had called Lysco asking the company not cash his check. It did not. He has since cancelled payment, and Lysco is considering legal action against him.