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NBC Looks at A/C Contractor Scams & How to Find a Trustworthy Contractor

Ever worried that some maintenance specialist would rip you off or scam you one day? That’s a pretty common fear. When unfamiliar with certain things, such as kitchen appliances, electrical work, cars, heating, and air conditioning, it can be scary to trust someone else’s opinion. Unfortunately, scams are not just a myth in the air conditioning business. Some technicians might bank on someone’s unfamiliarity with air conditioners to make a few extra dollars.

On his segment, Rossen Reports, on the Today Show, NBC’s Jeff Rossen investigated how accurate a diagnosis 6 HVAC contractors gave on a straightforward air conditioner problem. All six contractors added extra ‘problems’ to the original one and charged way more than experts said should be set. “… either dishonesty or incompetence,” according to the experts in this segment.

Though it would be pretty easy to conclude that all air conditioning technicians are crooks, it is essential to remember that there are contractors with hearts and morals. Rossen Reports gives two websites to look for certified contractors (Air Conditioning Contractors of America and North American Technician Excellence). When looking for heating and cooling contractors, you should follow these steps:

  • Ask friends or family for advice or referrals. If people you trust have had a good experience with a company, that is a great place to start. This is even better if multiple friends have had positive experiences with the same company.
  •  Call City Hall. Call up city hall and ask to speak with the local building inspector. Permits must be obtained through the city for all heating and cooling work. Check to ensure the contractor has followed through on proper procedure and see if there have been any past complaints filed. You can also speak with your state’s attorney general office or the BBB.
  •  Check Credentials. Are the technicians NATE (North American Technician Excellence) certified, or is the company a member of ACCA (Air Conditioning Contractors of America)?
  •  Check them out. What’s stopping you from going in, seeing their showroom, and meeting some of the employees? As a paying consumer, you have every right to find out as much as possible about the company in your home.
  •  Have an In-Home Estimate. If you want a new furnace or air conditioner, make sure that a qualified consultant comes to your home before giving a quote. The consultant should look at the size of the house, the windows, the insulation, and which way the home is facing, and they may even look at how trees shade the home. All this goes into deciding the proper heating and/or cooling unit for your home.

*Be careful when reading reviews online or hearing them from others you don’t know very well. Be sure to consider potential biases and whether or not you are attending the whole story. If you find something unsettling, but everything else seems optimistic about the contractor, it might be worth your time to dig in deeper and learn more. Perhaps it will clear the air for you or make you realize that it is not the right contractor to come to your home.

Feel free to contact FLAME to learn more about NATE, ACCA, or finding a qualified contractor.

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