HVAC Scams: Is Your Contractor Trustworthy?
It’s that time of year again – time to get your HVAC serviced. This is a very stressful process for many. How do you know that you’re not getting over charged? How do you know they aren’t telling you to buy parts you don’t even need? It can sometimes be difficult to find a quality contractor. We want to put your fears of being scammed to rest.
Many people easily fall for HVAC scams since they are unfamiliar with how HVAC systems work. That is, after all, why they hire professionals in the first place. However, sometimes when you think you’re hiring a contractor you end up with a persuasive salesman instead. Many HVAC contractors will simply try to upsell as much as possible regardless of what actually needs fixing.
Protect yourself against HVAC scams:
1) “I’ll need the money up front.”
This is the most popular ruse used among dishonest contractors. They may try to justify this by saying they need to order materials, rent equipment, etc. But once you hand over the cash they either disappear or start doing poor quality work.
Protect yourself by never prepaying more than $1,000 or 10% of the job total, whichever is less. This is enough to establish that you are a serious customer. Also, if he is a professional in good standing his suppliers will give him the materials on credit. Don’t let them sway you with these excuses.
2) Verbal agreements
Many contractors talk a good game, but you should never simply take their word for it when it comes to project agreements. They may be easy when it comes to price and specifications at the beginning; however, without a contract you have very few options if the agreement isn’t honored to your satisfaction.
Never agree to do business with someone who wants to skip the contract. Furthermore, make sure that everything you agreed upon is included. The more detailed the contract is, the safer you are.
3) “You need a new one.”
It may be a new part or it may be replacing your HVAC system entirely. A common scam is to point out a perfectly good part, or system, and explain that you need to replace it ASAP. Not every contractor who points out a bad part is lying, but it can be hard to be sure.
Protect yourself by doing your own research. For example, if they say your compressor needs replacing then do a quick Google search for “signs of bad HVAC compressor.” If you are still unsure then get a second opinion. Bringing in another expert will guarantee you aren’t being scammed. It also may scare the first contractor into retracting his original statement and suddenly inspire him to find a cheaper fix.
Some other quick tips to protect yourself against HVAC scams:
- Read reviews of the contractor online before hiring.
- Ask contractors to give you the old parts after they have been replaced.
- Get a written estimate.
- Avoide “free of charge” tune-ups as these often lead to high-pressure sales pitches.
- Trust your gut. If it feels wrong, get a second opinion.
Categorized in: Tips