CLEANNET USA Franchise is a Scam, Attorney Claims

The CLEANNET USA franchise is a scam, warns Chicago attorney Christopher Williams.

Williams contends that the claim that those who pay Cleannet USA vast sums for the privilege of cleaning toilets and mopping floors are business owners is a cruel ruse.

Williams has filed a class-action lawsuit against Cleannet USA, claiming the company misclassifies its janitorial work force as franchise owners rather than employees in order to duck such employer obligations as unemployment insurance, workers-comp, social security and payroll tax obligations.

He claims that Cleannet USA franchisees “need public assistance because they’re making so little money. They can’t afford health care. If they get injured on the job, they have no workers compensation insurance.”

Are you familiar with Cleannet USA franchise?  What do you think?  Is it a scam?  Share a comment below!

Class Action Lawsuit Attorney Calls Cleannet USA Franchise a Scam

A National Public Radio (NPR) news report from radio station WBEZ in Chicago by Chip Mitchell and Shannon Heffernan (Bigger than burgers and fries, franchising blamed for low wages) features both Christopher Williams comments as well as the sad story of a Cleannet USA franchisee with the pseudonym Gloria Pérez:

As franchising has spread, some industries have pushed the model to the extreme. In commercial-cleaning franchising, the customers that need the service usually come through the franchisor. They also make their payments to the franchisor. The franchisee gets just a portion of the payments in periodic checks from the franchisor — after deductions for insurance, royalties, management and so on.

In Chicago, the commercial-cleaning franchisees include hundreds of Mexican immigrants. One of them is a woman we will call Gloria Pérez. We agreed not to use her real name because she fears retribution from her franchisor. Pérez entered the commercial-cleaning business four years ago.

Back then, she and her husband were both unemployed, they had three kids at home and a mortgage, and they were burning through their savings. Pérez saw a newspaper ad placed by CleanNet of Illinois, part of CleanNet USA, based in McLean, Virginia.

The ad said she could have her “own business.” Pérez, interviewed by WBEZ in Spanish, said it seemed like “a good opportunity because we did not have any other work.”

Pérez went in for an appointment. CleanNet gave her more than 150 pages of legal disclosures — all in English, she said. She did not understand much except some numbers on a chart the company gave her. “It said I could make $6,000 a month if I bought a franchise for $21,000,” she said.

After a discount, Pérez said, she managed to put in $19,000. Since then, she says, she has never come close to earning the monthly $6,000. “Every month they take out 20 percent of what I earn,” Pérez says, and she does not get enough assignments within driving distance.

“It’s a scam,” said Chicago attorney Christopher Williams, who filed a class-action lawsuit against the company in March for janitors such as Pérez. “CleanNet is trying to say, ‘We have no unemployment obligation to them. We have no workers-comp obligations to them. We do not pay payroll taxes. We are not their employer. And these are people who need public assistance because they’re making so little money. They can’t afford health care. If they get injured on the job, they have no workers compensation insurance.”

If a customer falls behind on its payments, CleanNet warns it could deduct that money from paychecks too.

Another way CleanNet makes money off its janitors is by loaning them money when they cannot afford the franchise fee — the upfront payment from the workers. Paying off that loan means yet more paycheck deductions.

“All they’re left with after that agreement is debt,” Williams said.

The suit against CleanNet, filed in federal court, claims hundreds of the company’s Illinois janitors are not franchisees but employees. It accuses the company of violating state and federal laws regulating wages and work hours.

CleanNet officials did not respond to our requests for comment about the suit. When janitors in Massachusetts filed a similar claim against the company, CleanNet denied any liability or wrongdoing. It did settle with those janitors last November, agreeing to pay out $7.5 million.

In Illinois, CleanNet is among at least eight commercial-cleaning firms registered to offer franchises, according to the state attorney general’s office. The biggest is Jani-King International, based in Addison, Texas….

…In the cleaning industry, it is not just the “franchisees” who are vulnerable to wage-and-hour violations. Those workers often bring other people to help them with jobs. Pérez gets part-time help from her husband, a son and a neighborhood friend. “I can’t afford to pay them minimum wage,” she said.

Also read:

Janitorial / Commercial Cleaning Franchise Issues

CLEANNET USA Franchise Complaints



NOTE TO CLEANNET USA: Our policy is to invite all companies and individuals and companies discussed here to provide clarifications, corrections, rebuttals and/or company statements for publication.  Feel free to post comments below or email us at UnhappyFranchisee[at]

TAGS: Cleannet USA, Cleannet USA franchise, Clean Net USA, Clean Net USA franchise, Cleannet USA lawsuit, Cleannet USA scam, Cleannet USA complaints, Cleannet USA class action lawsuit, janitorial franchise, commercial cleaning franchise, Unhappy Franchisee

8 thoughts on “CLEANNET USA Franchise is a Scam, Attorney Claims

  • April 7, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Clean Net USA scammed me and my college buddy out of 4000 and still owe us till this day. I still don’t know what todo about it till this day.. Stay away from them!!!!

  • April 9, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    I was with cleannet usa in Dallas, TX. from 1998 til about 2002 and YES, they are a rip off, a big scam!!…Tom Gill and Kevin Henry will rip you off and lie to you in your face. D

  • April 9, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    I was with cleannet usa in Dallas, TX. from 1998 til about 2002 and YES, they are a rip off, a big scam!!…Tom Gill and Kevin Henry will rip you off and lie to you in your face. I build my franchise up and then all of a sudden, my business start going down. They were telling me my customers were unhappy and started talking them away from me. I would do special services and would not get paid for it. RIP OFF RIP OFF RIP OFF RIP OFF. DO NOT SIGN UP WITH CLEAN NET PERIOD!!!

  • December 8, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    I was with CleanNet in Boston for 15 years…things were going fine but then they went belly up. If CleanNet USA had a good franchise program, I would still be in business for myself today. Instead I lost hundred of thousands and am now working as an employee for another cleaning company at half the pay. CleanNet USA needs to wake up and improve\update their business practices. They are facing class actions in California, Michigan and Pennsylvania…so the problems are system wide.

  • February 5, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    I had a Cleannet franchise from 1998 to 2003 and can’t complain I always made the income level I bought into and most of the time more because I would get extra jobs because the other franchise did a horrible job and I would go fix the problem! Cleannet always treated me good because I did a good job. There was a downside and they were the fees they took out. They were very excessive for simply sending a bill to the customer! They also under bid contracts so you sometimes worked really hard and got underpaid! I eventually went out on my own and did a lot better without them!

  • January 17, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    The company is a complete RIP off from top to bottom

  • February 6, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    Cleannet in Sacramento is a ripp off and only wants to take your money for insurance, Management,Royalty and Janitorial Bond payment for the contract that you go clean on a daily basis use your own suppliers .
    i want to see if there is a class action law case in Sacramento area or Bay area.

  • January 16, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    I was with cleannet USA Baltimore Washington region for the last fours years and lost a lot of money and get problems only. First of all they said it is a franchise and we can sell back the franchise which never happened because they can take the accounts back when ever they wanted back for free, just by claiming you are not doing a good job. Remember you already paid Franchise fees for the job but they take it back and resell it to another franchisee so they get multiple franchise fees for only one account. For you because you are not going a good job you loose your account and has to wait until another account comes up and if you can kiss their ass you will get it.
    Second , they take 20 to 22% from your pay check from you gross pay for fees and insurance. You will never make money with with cleannet unless you work your self with minimum wages. You car will wear down in a year and you will not be able to replace it.
    Third, You will never get a good (reasonable ) account unless you are a close friend of the manager or official of that region. All the good account goes to their favorite people . You will only get left over accounts that no one wants.
    Fourth, You can imagine how easy to blame you in this cleaning business, extremely easy to blame you and your workers and kick you out the day they want you out in favor of their friends or favorites. It doesn’t matter how hard you work it will not make a difference unless you kiss ass. There are thousand of reasons that they can blame you.
    Fifth, apart from the people from their regional main office there are people called quality control (QC) personal which are crooks. Unless you kiss their ass they will team up with the client and will kick you out so that their favorite people will get you job.
    I already put in $20000 and should get $ 7000 a month accounts. They gave to me but slowly taking it back for their benefits. Cleannet is a scam and they will work you to bankruptcy.
    You can get your sales person and get your own account, that is what they do. Remember you get only maximum 78% of your gross cleanning fees . I know many people lost their franchise fees and never gat paid.

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