Air Filter Sales and Service Scam: How It Works
The COVID-19 crisis taught everyone how to be more careful, self-conscious, and preventive. There is no surprise that criminals jumped right in, trying – and succeeding – to take advantage of people’s fears. One of the tricks that really work for them these days is the Air Purifier Sale Scam, aka the Air Filter Sales and Service approach.
Feel free to add your experience, if you have one in the Comments section. In this article, we will learn how the scam works and how to avoid it, but also how to test air purifiers. Let’s start with the scam, which could be applied to any kind of filter-related fraud, whether it is a HEPA filter (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) or a portable air purifier.
Air Filter: Home Visits For Upgrades
There are a few ways you could come across it. Most of them come via online ads, emails, and social media posts. You could also be approached via door-to-door salespeople, despite the pandemic. They may claim to work for the Government — with fake IDs and everything — and say that everyone needs to upgrade their air filters (or get brand new ones), as a preventive measure for Coronavirus future damage.
Alternatively, you could receive flyers in your mailbox or phone calls, promoting a miracle purifier. In many other cases, you may see online geotagged ads run by a “green” company. This business could be real or fake as the scam is in the selling – it could be a fake air cleaner or just … nothing. Let’s see.
They say the new air purification system they are about to give you is ‘the thing,’ and it has been tested by the Government and approved for national distribution. They have an excellent presentation and use current trendy words such as “eco”, “natural”, “carbon filter”, “ozone generators”, “volatile organic compounds”, “ultraviolet germicidal irradiation” or “green”.
They offer to give you a free demonstration and even mention that you don’t have to buy if you’re not interested. What can you lose, right?
A rep of the ‘company’ comes to your house to do the free test with a fancy, shiny device. He starts chit-chatting about life and his kids, as well as maintaining their health. He mentions a recent warning from the city hall about the air quality in town, which is one of the biggest reasons for the spread of the virus so rapidly. “The wind is mild here,” he says, “but the moisture and the chemical composition facilitates the fast spread of the bacteria, harmful particles and mold spores. That’s why the indoor air quality has to be perfect, don’t you think?”, asks the rep.
He may add references to the now imbalanced amount of nitrogen, oxygen, argon, and carbon dioxide, so many uneducated people may fall for these warnings and proceed with the installation of a new air purifier or filter suggested by the technician. “No pollutant, bad odor, smoke, dust or particulate matter, in general, would resist to this machine. Cleaner than the outdoor air.”, he says. Are you sold yet?
Depending on how lucky they are, victims may end up with overpriced devices that still work or only with junk products that would not function for more than six months. They pay hundreds of dollars or Pounds for something they could have purchased on Amazon Prime for over $100.
To convince his victims, even more, the scammer would advertise the product as the best air purifiers for allergies and asthma in the industry, as well as being useful for pets or against other viruses. Plus, he commits to helping you with continuous service in case something goes wrong. Promises like a free replacement filter, great fan speed, or pet dander protection could tip the balance so you would purchase these devices right away. But wait.
Let’s see what you can do in this case.
Air Purifier Sale Scam: How To Avoid
If you are looking for the best air purifiers for pets or allergies, check out websites such as Wirecutter or Consumer Reports, first. Several legitimate businesses sell air purifiers, but you have to be careful of promised services that are too good to be true, especially in times that are known for emotional purchases. Check out the Better Business Bureau’s website for the listing of the company that contacts you.
Ask if they offer a warranty. If they do, does it look legitimate? Verify to see if they have a helpline so you can phone anytime with your purifier. Do they have a website? Do they have a physical address listed there? Any reviews you could find online, not on their website? Request to see a business license and make sure to check if it’s real. Better safe than sorry.
Don’t hesitate to spend some time online looking for the best air purifiers when it comes to allergy, mold, pollen, dander, allergen, cigarette smoke, and other airborne pollutants.
You can settle for a regular HVAC system, a Dyson air purifier, or a true HEPA filter, as well. However, You could also take a look at this recommendation we have here – the 3 highest rated purifiers on Amazon: Coway AP, Winix 5500 and Levoit.
Beware of Claims That Are Too Good to Be True: “Very Confident That This Technology Will Destroy The Coronavirus”
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, people changed the way they think, protect themselves, and how to make better decisions. This is why products that make our lives better receive now a better consideration from us, as consumers. Therefore, there is no surprise that air filters are part of that category. The question is, how do you know that the claims that manufacturers make are really valid? Since nobody wants to spend money these days to experience a product, consumers rely on platforms that do that for them, such as the Consumer Reports or Wirecutter.
It is the case of a new product launched recently called Molekule Air, which is a great-looking cylindrical air purifier set inside a clean, modern home. The claims in the promotional materials were that Molekule destroys bacteria, viruses, molds, and — drum roll — gaseous chemicals hiding in your home. Not only that, but the founders stated they’re “very confident that this technology will destroy Coronavirus.”
Molekule Air costs $800. The manufacturer claimed to have revolutionized air cleaning with its proprietary PECO technology. PECO stands for photoelectrochemical oxidation, which is an improved version of the photocatalytic oxidation (PCO). The PCO has been used for contaminated water and air for a long time.
Consumer Reports’ Molekule Review Set A Precedent
According to Consumer Reports, “a typical mesh filter captures only airborne particles. PECO and PCO, however, take it one step further and also target gases. It does this by coating filters in a catalyst (PCO usually uses titanium dioxide) that reacts with UV light to oxidize gaseous pollutants and breaks them down into harmless molecules.”
In less technical terms, “PCO air cleaners can break down many types of gaseous pollutants, but not many typically found in indoor air. The process can also react with some pollutants to generate other dangerous byproducts, such as ozone, formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide.”
The Environmental Protection Agency states that to efficiently AND SAFELY eliminate common gases and microbes found in homes, the PCO technology needs to be improved significantly. Because Molekule said it had done that, Consumer Reports took one of the Molekule air filters to test. The verdict was not to the manufacturer’s liking. Consumer Reports did not recommend the product but instead suggested many other air filters over Molekule.
After the Consumer Reports’ Molekule review was published (along with complaints from Molekule’s main competitor, Dyson), the National Advertising Division found Molekule’s advertising claims to be unsubstantiated and challenged them to go back to the “drawing board.”
For Wirecutter, Molekule Was “The Worst Air Purifier Ever Tested”
Molekule received even a worse review from Wirecutter, the leading product review platform owned by the New York Times Company. For Wirecutter, Molekule was “the worst air purifier we’ve ever tested”. In a short review posted recently, they said: “We found in our tests that it turned in the worst performance on particulates of any purifier, of any size, of any price, that we have tested in the seven years that we have been producing this guide.”
The moral? Before making a big commitment by spending a lot of money on a product that claims to make wonders – research, research, research. There is someone out there who tried, tested, and reviewed your product. Just find that review online, but make sure it is legitimate. Molekule has a lot of positive reviews too; however, they don’t seem to be from specialists like the ones at Wirecutter and Consumer Reports.
We are sure Molekule’s products will be even better since it’s a real, appreciated company. Still, their business lost some powerful steam by making initial claims that hit massive speed bumps.
For the end, let’s take a look at how Consumer Reports tests air purifiers – watch the video below:
Air Purifier Scam: How To Report
Make your family and friends aware of the Air Filter Sales and Service Scam by sharing this article on social media using the buttons provided. You can also officially report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission using the link below:
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