Here at Simply the Best, we listen to our customers. One of the biggest fears that we consistently hear from the people we talk to is getting ripped off by HVAC companies of fly-by-night repair guys. Our goal in the post is to keep you aware of some of the most common HVAC, AC, and furnace scams and make sure you’re knowledgeable about how to protect yourself.
If you live in Gilbert, AZ, or any of the surrounding Phoenix area, you know how many HVAC companies there are. It’s tough to know how to choose if one will live up to its promises, or if they’ll try to scam you out of thousands.
How Do AC Scams Work?
Let’s start off by defining what a scam even is. Google’s dictionary gives a pretty basic and undescriptive definition: a dishonest scheme; a fraud. Ok, that wasn’t very helpful or descriptive, as one of my wife’s former students used to say, “What does that even mean?”
Now let’s look up the definition of fraud to see if we can’t get some clarification. A fraud: wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain. That makes things a little clearer. Most people can probably easily think of a scam that they’ve heard of, or maybe someone that you know has been involved in a scam.
Before we dive specifically into HVAC scams, let’s take a look at some common signs that you are being scammed.
5 Signs You Might Be Getting Scammed
An AC company is contacting you out of the blue & asking for money upfront
If a company that you’ve never dealt with before is reaching out to you out of the blue – whether that’s online, over the phone, or face to face, and is asking you for money – be wary. As a clarification note, many legitimate HVAC companies do research and marketing to people that they haven’t dealt with before. But, if a company reaches out to you and only wants money right away, forget about them.
A solid way to ensure that they are who they say they are is to go to their official website; here’s our homepage. Call the number from the site and ask if it is legitimate. If it is an HVAC contractor from Arizona, they need to show their Arizona Registrar of Contractors number on their website and marketing materials.
If you have a good credit history, but you’ve been rejected for financing
If you usually have decent credit, but all of a sudden you’re being rejected when applying, there’s a chance that someone else has assumed your identity and is pretending to be you to get money, goods, or services.
It’s always worth checking your credit file often to see if someone is making false applications for credit in your name, so you can act quickly if something is not right. It would be devastating to find out that someone has messed with your credit only when you apply for financing.
While this isn’t a sure-fire way to see if the company is scamming you, it is something that you should keep in mind, and checking your credit score often is an important thing to do either way.
You’re being rushed
No legitimate company will rush you into making financial decisions. Nor will they rush you to hand over sensitive information or put unreasonable deadlines on you paying. Scammers like to involve a sense of fear as a tactic to bully you into action, so you don’t have time to ask for help or really think things through.
The marketing piece you have received is full of poor spelling and grammar
Most emails from legitimate companies are proofread and checked multiple times. While an error does happen every once in a while, multiple errors in the same piece are a pretty easy way to find out that the company didn’t send it out and someone else is trying to pretend to be them.
The website you’re on doesn’t have a secure link
It can be extremely easy to be fooled by a fake website as scammers can make emails look official and even create the same general website design and use logos from a legitimate company.
When using web pages, make sure that the site has a secure link. The website should always start with https:// rather than http://. The s stands for secure and means they are using an SSL certificate to keep their site secure. For example, the link to our website is: https://www.simplythebestac.com
This is all good information, but how does any of this relate to HVAC systems, air conditioners, or furnace cleaning scams?
Common HVAC Scams
Unfortunately, the HVAC industry is riddled with scammers. These scammers are always looking for an easy way to get quick money and targeting people that have their air go out is generally not as hard as other industries.
Arizona has had a lot of problems with HVAC scammers in the past few years. The sweltering heat means that people are eager to get things fixed fast, which works to the scammers’ benefit. In 2017 the attorney general’s office warned Arizona residents to keep an eye out for air conditioning repair scams.
Here are some of the top scams that we’ve heard of in the HVAC industry, the sad thing for us, as a reputable AC contractor is that not all of these scams are done by fly-by-night people, some are done by other companies that are claiming to be reputable:
Replacing parts when they don’t need replacing
Often when a repair service technician comes out to do preventative maintenance or a repair, they inform you of a part that needs to be repaired. Companies trying to scam you will find an expensive part and tell you it needs to be repaired when it is actually working just fine.
Often when this happens, the cost to replace the part will be so high, that buying a whole new unit appears to be the best choice. While this does happen sometimes, especially on older units that haven’t been maintained well, it isn’t extremely common. It also is very rare that a bunch of parts need to be replaced at one time.
Generally, one defective part compromises the integrity of the whole unit. Chances are that multiple parts are functioning poorly because one part is broken.
The best defense against this scam is to seek multiple opinions about your unit. While this can be difficult in Gilbert, AZ where summer temperatures get dangerously high, it’s important to not get taken advantage of. Simply the Best Heating & Cooling offers same-day AC repair service so you can be sure that you are getting a good deal.
Air Conditioning service makes an offer too good to be true
Let’s be real, all companies are in business to make a profit. The difference between a good company and a bad company is that the good ones prioritize their customers as best they can. Some will cut any corners they can to make a quick buck.
While many good HVAC contractors will offer some pretty fantastic deals on new AC or furnace systems, be sure to watch out for any sort of catch. Always insist on a written agreement. Any reputable company should be more than willing to give you an offer in writing.
Do not trust a service provider that will not provide a written agreement.
Claiming your refrigerant needs to be “recharged”
The “recharging” scam is a dishonest technician’s way of unnecessarily billing you for refrigerants you shouldn’t need. If your AC system is low on refrigerant, that means you have a leak and just “recharging” your system won’t fix the problem.
If a technician recommends a refrigerant recharge, be sure to ask why your system was low in the first place and how often it would need to be “recharged”. This should give you an idea if the technician actually knows what the problem is, and how often they hope to bill you for a “recharge”.
Selling you more refrigerant than they gave you
Unfortunately, another common refrigerant scam exists by bad contractors and fly-by-night technicians. Pay close attention to your technician as they install your unit. Refrigerants are measured in weight and bad companies will often charge you for the full, but short you upon installation. This means they can charge you again when they need to come back to “recharge” the system.
High-Pressure sales are always a bad sign
No one likes a pushy salesperson. Confidence is one thing, but a high-pressure situation should immediately raise some red flags. Don’t let the salesperson scare you into purchasing anything you aren’t totally sure of. Generally, the reason why they are trying to scare you into buying now is that they’re scamming you and either won’t be in business when you have problems down the road or will try to write you off.
These guys don’t want to wait for you to get a second opinion. Unless your system is visibly on fire or stuffed with explosives, it probably doesn’t present an immediate threat to your mortal safety. You have time to get multiple options, don’t let an AC technician scare you into paying for HVAC services you don’t need.
Upfront cash payment is a huge red flag
No reputable HVAC company asks for payment before providing you with any service. If a repairman asks for payment upfront, they are probably trying to take the money and run. We hear about this a lot from customers that have used fly-by-night guys to work on their systems. They want all the money upfront but then perform shoddy work, or no work at all, and take off with the cash.
Watch out for bait and switch
This is another one that is unfortunately too common in the Gilbert HVAC industry. Junky AC companies will attempt to generate more business by making “offers you cannot refuse” such as insanely discounted services or products. Again this by itself isn’t a bad thing, but what they do next almost always points to an HVAC company you shouldn’t do business with.
Often once they’ve gotten in your door with their unbelievable offers, they switch what they are offering and either sell you on other services or mislead you on the condition of your unit so they can sell you much more than you expected.
Beware of companies lowballing their estimates, almost always we hear of these companies running into “unexpected” and expensive complications.
How To Find An Honest HVAC Company
We definitely understand your dilemma. Your air conditioner is out and it’s hot in Gilbert, Arizona. You don’t feel like you have time to sift through the hundreds of AC companies to find a good one. But listen, you do not want to be involved with a company that is constantly trying to rip you off or using one of the common scams noted above.
With how dangerous it can be to have heating and cooling systems that don’t work properly or to have the air you breathe not properly controlled and cleaned you can’t NOT take the time to find a good company.
Here are our top tips you should consider before deciding on an Air Conditioner contractor, especially if you live in a very hot area like Gilbert, AZ.
Look at some basic things first. Is your electrical breaker tripped? Is your thermostat operation as it should? Are your air filters dirty or blocked?
If it’s something minor like that, you might be able to fix it yourself. Check out our Common Causes of HVAC Failure guide.
Check warranty coverage
Your air conditioner might still be under the manufacturer’s warranty. Be sure to check your owners manual or warranty to avoid unnecessarily paying for repairs that might be covered.
Here at Simply the Best, we install Daikin air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces. Dakin offers one of the top HVAC warranties on the market at 12 years of coverage. But there are some stipulations and things you must maintain to keep the warranty in good standing.
Do some research
Verify their license
As we listed above you should be able to find a company’s Arizona Registrar of Contractors license number listed on their website. On top of that, you can search contractors at https://roc.az.gov to find the status of a company’s license and the history of complaints filed against them.
Look up third-party reviews. Be wary of reviews on their website that aren’t pulled directly from Google, Yelp, Facebook, or another popular review place. Anyone can fake reviews on their website, but faking those sites is much harder and can bring swift penalties if you are caught.
It’s also important to look at the company’s responses to negative reviews. Do they try to fix any issue that was had? Or do they just write it off as another unhappy customer?
Obtain multiple bids for expensive HVAC repairs or AC replacements
Try to get at least 2 or 3 bids on large projects. Find out the proper size unit to cool your Gilbert home and the energy efficiency of a new unit so you can make sure you are comparing apples to apples.
Get everything in writing
Before any money is exchanged, get a written contract of the equipment and services the company is selling and review it thoroughly before signing. Don’t sign anything that you don’t fully agree to.
Know your rights
Be wary if a contractor uses a sense of urgency in their selling methods. Some dishonest contractors may use high-pressure tactics to recommend repairs and replacements that are not actually needed.
HVAC scammers are so prevalent in the greater Phoenix area that we decided to create a free report that goes over the top 7 tips to not get ripped off by AC contractors. Click the button below to download the report and save yourself thousands of dollars on your next air conditioner or furnace purchase.
We’ll Wrap It Up
We think it’s important that our customers are well informed about all the choices they have. New AC systems can be pretty pricey and we don’t want customers to feel like we’ve taken advantage of them. We are always here to answer any and all questions you might have about how to find a good contractor or even just some basic HVAC terms.
Give us a call to learn more, or if you are looking for service or a quote on a new air conditioner, schedule a no-hassle, no-obligation appointment with us online now, just click here.