Over the past few years, we’ve seen a growing, troubling trend in our industry. Large, unscrupulous HVAC and Multi-Trade contracting companies are using unethical tactics to coerce customers into paying for expensive, unnecessary repairs and replacements. Despite disciplinary actions taken against some of them by the agencies that regulate them, they continue to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners.
How These Companies Work
When you call one of these companies, usually in response to an ad for a bargain priced tune-up or drain cleaning offer, you may assume that they’re on the level. What you don’t realize is that the “service technician” who visits the home has instructions to find as many real or imagined problems with the equipment as possible. Motors “leaking oil”, possibilities of future failures, anything to make repairs of the system seem unwise.
The technician’s goal is to be an “appointment setter.” That is, to get the customer to agree to a sales call for a replacement system, even if the system is well within its useful life (see this BOA/NAHB study and Consumer Reports article). If the “Tech” succeeds in setting up a sales call, the salesperson/consultant will visit the home and use hard-sell tactics, trying to close the sale immediately on his first visit and offering to have a new system installed the next day (to prevent comparison shopping.)
Invariably, the company’s prices, which reflect the fortunes they spend on marketing and advertising as well as the commissions they pay to the service technician (appointment setter) and salesperson, far exceed the prices charged by smaller, local contractors.
Particularly troubling is their practice of preying on elderly homeowners, using fear, uncertainty, and doubt, and selling them unneeded repairs or new systems for the sake of profit. Often the equipment is working properly or is easily repairable and has many years of service life left!
Our motivation behind this post is not to bash our competitors. The practices we’ve described here are not meant to scare you, and they’re not just hearsay. We’ve learned about them first-hand from customers who have called us for a second opinion! We’re writing this as a public service to encourage you to let your friends and family, and particularly elderly folks know that they should never allow a sales representative or technician to pressure them into a purchase without a chance to consult with friends, family, or another contractor. Most contractors will provide free system replacement estimates. Some, like us, will even give a “Free Second Opinion” for air conditioning
, heating, and other repair quotes.
What to Do if You Think a Salesman or Company is Trying to Con You
If a salesperson is twisting your arm and promising large discounts “if you sign today,” stop! Don’t let a predatory business pressure you into a bad deal. Take a breath. Ask for a detailed, written offer, not just a scribble on a sheet of paper, with specific brands, makes, and model numbers. Tell the salesperson you need time to check out their business and their offer and that you won’t consider doing business with a company that withdraws discounts if the agreement isn’t signed immediately.
It’s hard to say “No” when your heat or air is broken and you’re freezing or sweating, but a large HVAC or Plumbing repair or replacement is a long-term investment that you’ll have to live with for years. Take the time to make sure you’re getting the correct information, and not what the salesperson is pushing to get his commission.
If you’ve ever done business with us before, you know that SG Heating & Air Conditioning LLC has the best interest of its customers at heart when we diagnose a problem and recommend a solution. We strive to build relationships with our customers. The disreputable contractors never hear from their customers again once they realize they’ve been ripped off.
We don’t use intimidation or high-pressure tactics. Our customers know they can trust us! If you learn your friends, family or colleagues are having HVAC or Plumbing problems, please refer them to us. If they’ve already had a service call, and the technician recommended a replacement system, have them call us for a Free Second Opinion
. We’ll treat them right. Call 609-448-1273 or click here to learn more.