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

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

NBC’s Jeff Rossen on his segment, Rossen Reports, on the Today Show conducted an investigation to see how accurate of a diagnosis that 6 HVAC contractors gave on a very simple air conditioner problem.  All 6 of the contactors added on extra ‘problems’ to the original one and charged way more than experts said should be charged.   “… either dishonesty or incompetence” according to the experts on this segment.

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/48080346/ns/today-today_rossen_reports/ (Watch the video!)

Though it would be quite easy to jump to the conclusion that all air conditioning technicians are crooks, it is important to remember that there are contractors with hearts and morals.  Rossen Reports gives 2 websites where one can 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.  For all heating and cooling work, permits must be obtained through the city.  Check to make sure 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 you can about the company who will be in your home.
  •  Have an In-Home Estimate. If you are looking to buy a new furnace or air conditioner, make sure that a qualified consultant comes out to your home before giving a quote.  The consultant should look at the size of the home, the windows, the insulation, which way the home is facing and they may even look at how the home is shaded by trees.  All of this goes into deciding what is the right 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 think about potential biases and whether or not you are hearing the whole story.  If you find something unsettling, but everything else seems positive about the contractor, it might be worth your time to dig in deeper and learn more.  Perhaps it will the 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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