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10 Tips for Avoiding Heating and Air Conditioning Scams in the Atlanta Area

Posted 09-12-13 in Air Conditioning, Heating

Whether your air conditioner died in the middle of a heat wave or your furnace is on the fritz on a chilly winter night, you’re just happy to see a repairman.

But don’t let your need for comfort blind you. There are some untrustworthy contractors who take advantage of homeowners who are desperate for quick repairs.

Follow these tips to avoid being scammed by contractors in the Atlanta area.

1) Ask for old, broken parts that were supposedly replaced
Some contractors may charge you for parts they didn’t actually replace. To prevent this, ask the contractor for the old, broken part after it has been replaced.

2) Watch out for “free” tune-up offers
According to the BBB, a reputable contractor will offer you a free estimate as a part of the typical sales process. But less scrupulous companies might trick you by offering a “free” tune-up in order to make a high pressure sales pitch.

3) Beware of those asking for large amounts money upfront
Some contractors ask for a down-payment (which is fine). But if a contractor asks you to pay him or her for the entire job before work is done, then hang up and try someone else.

4) Get 2-3 estimates before deciding
Get cost estimates from at least 2-3 contractors before making your decision. This gives you options, leverage and an average price to work with. Trustworthy contractors don’t mind giving free, no-obligation estimates for a heating or air conditioning installation job.

5) Don’t get scammed on Freon
Freon is what helps your air conditioner do its job. It’s expensive, so certain contractors will try to find ways to get you to buy more than necessary or give it to you for “free”, but in essence include it in the price of some other repair. For one, if you’re A/C is low on Freon, chances are there’s a leak because an A/C unit does not naturally lose Freon. If they merely fill your A/C up with Freon and don’t offer to perform a leak search, you may be getting scammed.

Also, have the contractor stay awhile as you test your A/C to see if it’s working properly after the contractor says he or she is done.

6)  Troubleshoot first
If you can solve the problem yourself, then the chances of being scammed go down because you won’t have to hire anyone at all. Research the symptoms of your problems online before calling for service. You can even use us as a resource by asking one of our experts for help.

7) Get it in writing
Getting everything in writing will prevent the crafty bait and switch. So before a contractor starts working, make sure you have a written contract which details:

  • Start and completion dates
  • Itemized list of materials
  • Payment penalties for not completing the job on time

8) Know if you really need to replace or just get it repaired
Don’t get suckered into replacing your A/C or furnace if you don’t need to. Read our brief article: “How Do I Know If I Should Repair Or Replace My Current Heating And Air Conditioning System?” to learn more about this.

9) Read reviews and ratings online
Good people get good reviews and ratings. Enough said. As you’re looking for your 3-4 estimates, look up reviews on Yelp and Angie’s List, and find their BBB rating.

10) Know what a quality heating and cooling contractor looks like
If you know what a quality contractor looks like, spotting a potential scammer is easy.

Quality contractors are:

  • Insured
  • NATE-certified
  • Careful to survey your problem first and then give a final estimate, not vice versa
  • Patient when explaining why they’re repairing and charging you for something
  • Local and work full time in an office--not part-time in their home’s garage.

Have a problem with your heating and cooling system in the Atlanta area? Contact us online for a free estimate. Want help troubleshooting your system? Ask one of our experts for help.

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