I recently took a phone call to help a customer schedule a service call in the Murfreesboro,TN area and they prompted some questions and concerns that I have heard several times throughout my career. Every time I hear these same questions and retorts; I’m always sadly reminded just how naive and blinded some consumers are to common HVAC service scams that are regularly practiced. Scams and “bait & switch” tactics are used throughout most every single industry that involves sales or services of some sort. I would like to educate and inform customers, who are in need of HVAC services, repairs or installation, of some common unethical practices I have witnessed over my years in the HVAC industry.
Free Diagnostic or Service Call:
-This is a very common question I hear when scheduling a service call. “Why do you charge a diagnostic fee” or “why won’t you waive your diagnostic fee when another company in town offers this?” There is a lot of sayings in regards to something for “free,” but one that has always stuck with me is “Something good typically isn’t free and something free typically isn’t good.” I would consider this scam to be along the lines of a bait and switch style tactic. Some companies will entice their customers in by offering a “free” diagnostic visit, but unbeknownst to the customer; that “free” fee is still getting applied to the back end of the service (I.e added in to the repair item cost). A good service company will always offer transparent pricing and fairly charge for the work they do. It costs money, time and labor for a service company to come to your home or business and efficiently diagnose the issue.
Free Tune-Up or Cheap Tune-Up Pricing:
-I’m sure you’ve seen the rotating adds out there for the $25 A/C or Heating tune up; or the free duct cleaning with any mold inspection service. These tactics are commonly used for a unscrupulous company to get their foot in the door to “look” for further “problems” and employ their up-selling tactics. The services are typically followed by a “unfortunately we found some issues with your equipment that does not qualify for this service. In order to receive the free tune-up; you will need to address these issues first.” A reputable HVAC contractor will charge a fair price for a technical tune-up and IF any problems or concerns are found during this service then they will bring it to your attention and outline a professional estimate so that you can make an educated and informed decision.
0% Interest at XX Months:
-When you are in the market for HVAC equipment replacement and new installation; You will be inundated with these kinds of ploys. Now first let me say that I am not opposed to financing options; in fact I believe that any reputable, professional company should offer financing as an option for all of their consumers, BUT it needs to be in a transparent fashion. 99% of the time… financing costs money. There is typically no such thing as free. Most companies have to pay some sort of “buy down” or “buy in” fee to offer there customers a particular financing plan and it’s usually charged as a percentage of the sales price. The lower the interest percentage then typically the higher the financing price. Some companies do not show transparency between their normal retail pricing versus financed pricing. Other companies don’t even offer a normal retail price and offer strictly the financed pricing option. Here at Airstream Heating & Cooling; we do not charge extra for select financing options. For other financing options that cost us more than we can sacrifice (I.e 0% interest for 60 months) then we are transparent in our pricing and will reflect the difference it will cost to choose this financing option. Always choose a contractor that are transparent and upfront about their pricing with no hidden fees.
10-Year Parts AND Labor Warranty:
-This is a similar topic to the financed pricing transparency issue, but it’s another common scam used that will sometimes cost you unseen money. ALL mechanical products break. Even with a perfect installation and maintenance practice… they still break; so warranty is important when choosing the right product. Fortunately for the consumer; nearly all the HVAC equipment manufacturers have become very competitive and similar in their warranty pledges when it comes to part coverage, BUT a common misunderstanding and grey area is who is going to pay for the contractors labor and potential extra material needed to install the broken or failed part? This is where the labor warranty will come into play. These same Manufacturers will most of the time have options to BUY additional labor warranty coverage which will typically reflect a 10-year Parts & Labor warranty. This labor warranty coverage through the manufacture costs money…period. Another common scam of select HVAC companies is to promote that all of their installations come with a 10-year Parts & Labor warranty automatically, but the downside is that they are already factoring the extra labor warranty coverage cost into the sales price they are quoting you which in turn reflects back to poor transparency in pricing. A good example; at Airstream Heating & Cooling, we offer up to a 3-year Installation warranty with premium equipment that we install. We offer a minimum of a 1-year installation warranty with our base line product selection. Our installation warranties are contingent on proper maintenance. Our installation warranties are strictly In-house and not through the manufacturer and are at absolutely no additional cost to the customer. These installation warranties are also in combination with the original Manufacturers parts coverage warranty. We have the option to offer up to a 10-year labor warranty through our products, but we are transparent to the costumer in exactly how much the extra labor warranty coverage will cost them through the Manufacturer.
Do your research when selecting a contractor to service your homes comfort needs. Look at reviews, ask for references and ask for pricing up front. Hopefully these insights and topics can help you spot a potential “wolf in sheep’s clothing” before they are at your doorstep.