Letter To The Editor

Re: The CRI SOA Program (March 2007)\

Dear ICS,

I would like to respond to the article you published by Mr. Werner Braun regarding the CRI SOA program. He made several points, but I would like to respond to one in particular that he references as the “conspiracy theory.”

Actually, there was a movie made entitled the “Conspiracy Theory,” starring Julia Roberts and Mel Gibson. It seems Mr. Braun has now turned this into a delightful play that has opened in Dalton Ga., and will soon be playing in “theaters” across the country. The current version stars Mr. Braun, Ms. Ruth Travis, and Mr. Jeff Bishop. I think all three of these individuals should be nominated for an “Academy Award” for their performances. Let me explain why.

On page 10 of the above article in the March 2007 issue, Mr. Braun states: “Finally, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news to the Internet conspiracy theorists, but the CRI does not have a relationship with the IICRC…when it comes to SOA or recommended service providers.”

Mr. Braun should be given an Academy Award for either Best Comedy Routine or Best Song and Dance Act with this comment. How can he state that there is no relationship with the IICRC when Ms. Travis lists on her website that she is on the CRI SOA committee? Has he not had any conversations with her on any of these committee meetings? Has he not had any conversations with her when he sat in on SCRT BOD meetings of which they are both members?

Ms. Travis should receive an “Academy Award” for Best Supporting Actress for her involvement in this “play”. She has done her best to support the CRI SOA program as the IICRC President while insisting through others that she has had no “involvement” in this program, that somehow the CRI came up with this program on their own, despite the fact that on her website she lists herself as a member of the CRI SOA committee.

And Mr. Bishop should receive an Academy Award for being Best (Technical) Director. Mr. Bishop is the IICRC Technical Director and the SCRT Technical Director. It appears as he is also on the current CRI SOA committee, obviously “directing” it with his skill and experience.

One last comment; let’s not exclude Mr. Tom Hill from our list of deserving individuals. He should be given an Academy Award for Best Producer, because without him, Ms. Travis and Mr. Bishop would not have the opportunity to be involved in this “production”.

I know Tom Hill, Jeff Bishop and Ruth Travis personally, and I have enormous respect for them. By his association with them, I also have respect for Mr. Braun. I hope none of them are offended at my attempt at humor in my response to Mr. Braun’s article, but I also hope they get the message.

Despite my respect and admiration for the above individuals, I am vehemently opposed to this program. None of you have the right to stick your hand in MY pocket and play with my money, and that is exactly what you are doing! When you cross that line, friendship, respect and admiration take a backseat to protecting my livelihood. You are costing me money, my customers’ money, and I will not accept that. Mr. Braun is being less than candid in his response, and is not treating me and the rest of the individuals opposed to this program with the respect and dignity we deserve when he denies an obvious relationship with the IICRC President and her “support.”

That’s my “theory,” and I’m sticking to it!

Dan Mabesoone
VP MasterCare Corp
Norwich, CT

Dear ICS,

I have no idea what industry concerns are not addressed in the article CRI submitted to ICS, but the matters it deals with seem sensible.

For example, the comment that “members of the carpet manufacturing and cleaning industries had put together a testing program that could truly distinguish good carpet cleaning products from the bad ones.”

This addresses an obvious need that has been of concern for decades. The trade journals, which derive advertising revenue from manufacturers, do not wish to sponsor any sort of testing program for fear that there might be economic repercussions if a test showed something , equipment or chemical, in a less than flattering light. “We like the colorful bottle, but the cleaning agent in it doesn’t loosen carpet soils!”

CRI has chosen to enter a deadly arena to champion the working carpet cleaner. They had to start somewhere, but what is the greater marvel is their willingness to start at all, given the implications of any testing program.

The concern about the inability to test everything currently available or in use is absurd. Look at the size of the market! My current TM is older than my son who runs it! Why would I expect some retroactive testing or blanket approval of equipment that old? Why would anyone else?

So the CRI SOA costs money to get, assuming you meet the standards. So what? Big money goes into advertising that says a lot less than this will as far as performance of product. I’ve not seen where CRI suggests that unless their Seal of Approval is present, your equipment is junk.

This doesn’t appear to be a “get with the program or else” approach. Unless someone, manufacturer, reseller, whomever, has been held hostage by that approach, there is no valid cause for alarm. Does anyone have a just reason to doubt the veracity of the statement, “CRI wants to do nothing more than lift the cleaning industry, not hamper it.”?

Years ago IICRC set up standards for usage of all the common carpet cleaning methods, the S-100. Big outcry from those who don’t vacuum for dry soil removal before using solvent to release the bonded soils. Too bad. The S-100 told the truth about effective carpet cleaning procedures, whether one opts to use them or not. The S-100 was a brave move forward, pioneered by some farsighted persons.

Now CRI, as a carpet and rug advocate, comes along and suggests:
  1. Carpet cleaning should be done by the most effective means possible, leaving it as clean as possible.
  2. There is an excellent way of measuring cleaning success (XRF) and it should be put to use.
Makes perfect sense. Any program that inspires better products cannot help but benefit the industry. Certainly no one has to comply, but with a scientific testing program now available, why not take advantage of it? Or, is the problem that while others talked about doing valid testing, CRI actually did it?

Lynn E. Krafft
Krafft Cleaning Service

Dear ICS,

I am an IICRC Certified Master Cleaner from Omaha, Nebraska. I have owned my own independent (not franchised) carpet cleaning business since 1985. I have always taken care of my clients and, without any “Seal of Approval” from CRI, have grown my company to more than 1 million in annual revenues. Regardless of the cleaning method or system we use on a particular carpet, our company’s guarantee remains the same – You’ll Love Our Service, or it’s FREE! That matters more than what product we clean with.

I do not believe that the extractor, cleaning system or method has very much to do with the end result. We regularly use all five methods and several different machines. It is my opinion that carpet cleaning is much more about the operator - his technique, attitude, ability to “read the carpet”, etc. than the machine. Seeing the demonstration video on the CRI website was enough for me. That is not how we or anybody I know cleans carpet – I am sure that if I were allowed to use that same machine, I could have cleaned that carpet much better than their “scientific test.”

I have personally cleaned with everything from a white terry cloth towel, to a Truck Mounted Cleaning System and everything in between, including dry compound and bonnet cleaning. Sometimes it is necessary to combine methods to get that best result. If the cleaning machine and or chemicals make the difference, why has the IICRC spent so much time and effort trying to educate cleaners? Was that all just a big waste of time and money? Could we have just purchased the “Gold Label” machine?

I believe that the seal of approval is about the politics of the carpet cleaning industry. SOA is simply a way for the large manufacturers and franchises to promote their products and services and has very little, if anything, to do with the consumer getting a better cleaning job or a company owner getting valuable information regarding equipment purchases. This voluntary program will be mostly ignored by everyone and will eventually disappear when its true value to the industry is discovered . . . or noticed.

Rex Anderson
Guaranteed Clean
Omaha, Neb.

Dear ICS,

I can only speak for myself, my biggest complaint is that small portable machines that cost a fraction of what a truck mount does are being given a Gold Seal equal to a t/m. There needs to be some sort of distinction between the two. Personally I have a hard time believing that the little unit can clean equal to my t/m. This also presents a dilemma when selling my services to a homeowner especially if that person has done research at the CRI web site. They may say why don’t you just buy a RUG DOCTOR instead of spending all that money on what you have and do your work cheaper. As far as buying new equipment that doesn’t bother me it’s time for me to update anyway. I am waiting for some more units to be certified so I’ll have more choices.

Thanks for the opportunity to express my concerns.

Bobby Hales
Zebulon, N.C.

Dear ICS,

I found the article concerning the CRI SOA program interesting, however when I was finished I felt like I had read a press release, not something that answered any of the real issues.

I have been cleaning carpets since 1976. I am IICRC certified, and so is my firm. During the past 30 years I have used a wide variety of methods, and equipment. Operator skill is in my opinion the number one factor when it comes to success in the cleaning process. The CRI SOA program replaces experience, and skill with awards on inanimate objects.

Does the program have merit? I believe it is possible. Will it provide for the consumer a better guarantee of quality service? I doubt it.

Philip S. Mitchell
Mitchell Cleaning Service

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