Maryland Homeowners Surprised by $40,000 Flood Cleanup Bill - NBC4 Washington
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Maryland Homeowners Surprised by $40,000 Flood Cleanup Bill

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Homeowners Swept Away by Flood Cleanup Cost

    A group of Frederick homeowners says a company they hired to clean up the damage from flash flooding ended up draining their emergency fund. Consumer Reporter Susan Hogan has their story. (Published Monday, Nov. 12, 2018)

    After flash flooding swept through Frederick, Maryland, in May, homeowners hired a company to clean up the damage, but they said they weren’t kept up to date about the cost of the cleanup and they were shocked when the bill came to more than $40,000.

    Water poured into their garage and utility and laundry rooms.

    “We lost our carpet,” one of the homeowners said. “We had carpet in there and, they ripped it up because they said it smelled.”

    The homeowners hired ServiceMaster to clean up the mess, and crews showed up and got right to work.

    The next day they asked about an estimated cost for the job.

    “I was told on Thursday night as of Friday night it was going to be $20,000,” a homeowner told NBC4 Responds.

    Two others said they were told the same, but the job continued three days beyond that.

    The homeowners said they never got another estimate despite asking for updates.

    “The only thing I can say is I kept pushing him and pushing him to make sure to keep me abreast to what this is costing us,” one homeowner said.

    When the cleanup was complete, the bill was about $47,000, the homeowner said.

    Stunned that the cost more than doubled, he asked ServiceMaster if there was anything they could do, and the company took off $3,000, bringing the bill to $44,000.

    “And then I told myself and everybody else, ‘That’s going to break us,’” he said. “We don’t have that kind of money.”

    By paying the bill in full immediately, they got another $3,000 discount, but they still felt they were taken advantage of during a time of need.

    ServiceMaster's corporate office agreed to do an audit of the bill and found a $7,300 error on something called "overhead and profit." ServiceMaster said an employee of the franchise that performed the cleanup made a mistake calculating costs.

    ServiceMaster said the franchise has since "reinforced proper billing protocols and standards throughout the organization."

    And the homeowners got $7,300 back.

    Reported by Susan Hogan, produced by Meredith Royster and edited by Perkins Broussard.

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