Contact 6: Chimney cleaning leads to home covered in black, oily soot

MILWAUKEE -- An offer from Groupon -- too good to turn down ended up costing a homeowner more than $10,000! FOX6's Contact 6 says a "doctor" is to blame.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The “Chimney Doctor” noted in our story is not affiliated with the Milwaukee-based company, “Chimney Doctors.”

In a snap, Mary Kossik's house was covered in a black, oily residue called creosote. Photos show the mess and the thick film that blanketed her home. It came from inside her chimney and fireplace -- the result of a chimney cleaning gone terribly wrong.

"It's on my furniture. It's on my rugs. It's on my draperies. It's on my walls. It's in my kitchen - everywhere!  And it's not just ashes. It was soot!" Kossik said.

The company responsible is "The Fireplace Doctor."

Kossik had the company make a house call after buying an offer on the online coupon website Groupon. The offer -- $59 for chimney cleaning services. She usually pays another company about $200.

Kossik says instead of cleaning her chimney from bottom to top, like it's supposed to be done, the worker cleaned from top to bottom -- a serious case of malpractice, and the damage was extensive.

"The estimate was $8,000 to $11,000, and I was shocked! I was talking about it with friends, and they said 'you should call Contact 6,'" Kossik said.

Luckily for Kossik, her homeowner's insurance paid for most of the damage.

"The Fireplace Doctor" is based in Florida and has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau. The so-called "All-Star Chimney Academy" they're affiliated with is an affiliation made up by the "doctor" himself -- Dean Joyner.

Five of the eight companies listed as being part of the academy have the same phone number -- each leading back to "The Fireplace Doctor."

More confusing is why Groupon extended an offer to the public from a company with such a poor rating.

"It was the Groupon that basically lured me into it, because it was a really good price. The Groupon gave me a false sense of security," Kossik said.

FOX6's Contact 6 asked Groupon multiple times for a phone interview about "The Fireplace Doctor." Instead, they emailed two statements.

One statement said Groupon refunded the amount of the Groupon to Kossik for her trouble. The other said it runs each company through multiple levels of quality control so it meets Groupon's standards before marketing it to the public.

CLICK HERE to file a complaint with FOX6's Contact 6.