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How to Avoid AC Repair Scams

Posted on August 19, 2014
by Appleby Systems

vendorOf air conditioning vendors, installers and technicians in your area, 99% are honest, hardworking people. They do a good job at a fair price because they depend on repeat business and positive recommendations. Just like any business sector, however, there is always an unethical minority trying to make a quick dollar for shoddy work.

Common AC Repair Scams

The number one rip-off for unwary owners of air conditioning equipment is the low-Freon hustle. Very few homeowners know how to check the Freon level in their AC units let alone how to fill it. These scammers raise concerns that a low Freon level can damage your air conditioner – it will not – and offer to measure and re-fill the unit if necessary. Of course, they always find a low level in order to sell the re-fill service.

Often, these cheats do not stop there. They inform you that the unit must be leaking and insist the leak be repaired. They may dismantle your air conditioner searching for this phantom leak. Hours later, they will claim to have repaired it. You might be paying hundreds of dollars for nothing.

Replacing parts that are perfectly functional is another common rip-off. Since air conditioners are complex machines, a typical homeowner does not have the knowledge necessary to refute a technician’s diagnosis, so they pay for service that does not improve the unit’s operation.

Ways to Detect Scams

Detect ScamsWith a few questions and a little investigation, you should be able to quickly spot if a potential repair or maintenance offer is on the level or not:

  • If you did not initiate the contact with the contractor, this is a red flag. Dishonest repair outfits often cold call by phone or by showing up at your door.
  • The cold call is then followed by pressure tactics regarding safety issues or the loss of a short term, one-time discount. These tactics are designed to elicit a hasty decision.
  • Do an initial check of credentials by asking the representative to show you marketing literature, their state licensing information, their address and their Better Business Bureau rating, which should be an A.
  • Check their licensing information online or by calling the licensing agency. See if they have complaints past or present. If they have only been in business a short time, be skeptical.
  • Drive by the address they provide. Does the business look substantial or is it a residence, garage or empty lot?
  • Ask for a sample of their written warranty. If they cannot provide one, post another red flag.
  • Ask for at least three client references and follow up on each one.

Even if the contractor passes on the points above, check them out on local review forums such as www.city-data.com/canada/. There may be happy or unhappy customer accounts for your particular contractor. These may give you a sense of whether or not the contractor is competent too. Do not overweight such opinions, however, as more people are apt to complain than leave praise.

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Do Not Rush Your Decision

If your AC is working, then you can evaluate contractor offers for maintenance at your leisure. When the summer heat is on and your AC shuts off, resist the temptation to bypass basic due diligence in order to get a quick fix despite the heat.

Contact Appleby Systems as your first quote for both emergency maintenance and regular preventative maintenance.

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