Any homeowner will admit, you don’t want to be hot. On a 90 plus degree summer day in NJ air conditioning service companies phones are ringing off the hook. And, last week in New Jersey the Today show aired a ‘Rossen Report’ investigation. Shame was brought upon the air conditioning industry. But, it’s not the first time.
It seems that several air conditioning repair companies were called in to diagnose and hopefully repair a central AC system. The air conditioner had been serviced to verify that it was in good working order and a wire was intentionally broken inside the unit. A broken wire can be a very common occurence. Each contractor identified the problem, but that was not good enough for them. They then attempted to convince the acting "homeowner" that other repairs were necessary.
From our view of the world, we are entrusted with providing service for the safety and comfort of our customers. This is not to be confused with the thought that a contractor is doing a customer “a favor” showing up…quite the contrary. We consider it a privilege to enjoy a good, decent reputation and have repeat customers call us year after year, decade after decade, entrusting their systems to our care. They recommend us to their friends, neighbors and co-workers and that is how a great air conditioning company creates a following.
Unfortunately many air conditioning contractors throughout the country have a perception that the average homeowner is clueless when it comes to understanding how their system works. Does that give them the right to suggest an unnecessary repair? Absolutely not!
I previously wrote an article about ‘honest heating contractors in a down economy’ a few years ago. So, this is not a new development. It’s an unfortunate situation whereby some contractors take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners by deceiving them, blatantly lying about repairs that are unnecessary, and taking this to the level of financial gain.
In extreme weather, many air conditioning contractors feel entitled to charge more for their services. Not a good practice, at least in our minds!
Here’s our suggestion to ensure you’re dealing with the right contractor:
- Check out the company’s reputation
- “Google” the company name, keeping an eye open for reviews and recommendations
- Check with the Better Business Bureau
- Visit the company’s website
- Typically you’ll get an idea what the company is all about, a glimpse into their persona
- Look for quality memberships in trade organizations
- Beware of ‘too good to be true’ pricing
- There is just no such thing as a bargain, in the end ‘you get what you pay for’
- Be sure to be home when the service technician arrives
- Don’t rely on a teenage or college age student
- Establish yourself with a contractor
- Develop a relationship of trust
- Ask the technician for an explanation of the repair and what might cause the problem; he'll be glad to tell you
No one expects a homeowner to be an expert on HVAC systems, but it’s not a bad idea to have a general understanding on what you might expect.
Have some compassion for the small business owner of an air conditioning company, too. Additionally, keep in mind that air conditioning contractors, like everyone that works for a living in this world, is entitled to a fiar legitimate profit on the services and materials they supply. Years of training, thousands of dollars for insurance, costly overhead and expenses make it possible for these contractors to provide service when you need it.
Unfortunately for the HVAC industry, people are hot and cranky when they call for air conditioning service and while that's understandable, the technicians too are exhausted, sometimes working in attics that have temperatures in excess of 150 degrees in summer weather. So, let's hope cool tempers prevail!
Last, but not least, have your air conditioner serviced annually to keep it ‘healthy’. Similar to the manner in which you service your car, your central air conditioning system will serve you well for years to come if you maintain it.