There is no set answer to this question. Every job is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all price. However all carpet cleaners should be able to give you a ballpark estimate over the phone, but may need to inspect your carpet in person to firm up the quote.
There are two common ways to price carpet cleaning services - per room rates or per square foot rates.
Per room rates are designed to make it easier to price cleaning services over the phone without having to send a technician out to your home to measure each room, but beware of this technique to offer the lowest rates. Remember, you always get what you pay for. The per room rate is usually limited to a maximum size and larger rooms are usually charged as 2 and possibly 3 rooms. Also, closets or small areas could be considered an extra room.
Per square foot rates are designed so that companies can custom tailor each job price more closely to the actual value of the service. If you have smaller areas to be cleaned, you will pay less and if you have larger areas you will understandably pay a little more. Don't confuse the square footage of your home as your square footage of carpet. Measure the carpeted areas yourself so you can be sure how much you have.
Like most service related companies, you should expect 3 types of pricing:
First will be the cheapest price. You will usually get a coupon in the mail, find it in a coupon book or see it advertised on TV. Just like anything else, if it sounds too good to be true it usually is. Some companies have a base price and then tack on additional charges for spotting, pre-spray, furniture moving, trip charges, etc,. Beware of Bait and Switch companies who advertise extremely low prices such as $7.95 per room, and then charge $0.15 - $0.20 per square foot for pre-spray. Or the coupon will offer $99 for 3 rooms of cleaning but then your closet is considered a room and the living room is considered 2 or 3 rooms. The bottom line is that the company cannot be profitable at that price, so they have to make it up some other way. A little common sense goes a long way here. There are many ways a carpet cleaner can cut costs to lower their price, but none of them will benefit the customer.
Next will be the middle of the road price. This company will probably offer a certain percent discount rather than a low room, or multiple room price. You will probably find them on the internet or hear about them from a friend, family member or neighbor. They typically won’t do costly advertising because they would rather use word of mouth advertising and pass the savings on to their customers. This type of company will rely on doing good quality work and will offer good quality customer service so they are able to keep a lot of their customers as repeats. They will be able to give you a good ball park figure over the phone, based on square footage as opposed to per room. This company will make recommendations based on necessity and will ask if you would like any extras, but will not push them on you if you don’t.
And finally, the highest priced company. This company will do a lot of advertising. You’ll see their trucks all over the place. They have set prices and do not negotiate. They will do quality work and offer quality customer service just like the medium priced company, but are typically a large company with a large overhead and need to charge higher prices to support just that. In a strong economy, because of the name, this will be the company of choice for a lot of people. But in a tight economy, where every dollar counts, it really doesn’t make sense.
Here are of few unethical marketing practices to watch out for:
Bait and switch selling - The company will quote a super low price per room over the phone or in an advertisement (the bait) only to change the price when they get to your home (the switch) when the technician pressures you to pay more, claiming that the original quote didn't include the cleaning solutions or the processes required to do a good job for your situation.
Deep discount offers - Some companies advertise huge discounts, 30%, 35%, even 50% off, week after week after week. Of course, discounts that sound too good to be true usually are. If a company offers deep discounts on a continual basis, you may wonder, does anyone ever pay the regular price? It may be that the "discount" isn't a discount at all, and perhaps their original prices are inflated to allow for the continually offered "sale prices".