As temperatures soar and heat warnings are issued by the National Weather Service, more consumers might consider purchasing an air conditioning system or servicing an existing one. Though the majority of air conditioning, heating and ventilation (HVAC) contractors are reputable, there are unethical companies who will burn a hole in consumers’ wallets, instead of keeping them cool. Throughout 2018, Better Business Bureau serving Pacific Southwest(BBB) received 41,204 inquiries about HVAC contractors and worked to resolve 158 complaints regarding this industry. BBB encourages consumers to do their homework before signing a contract, spending money on repairs and don’t give in to high pressure sales tactics.
BBB offers these safe steps to avoid scams when hiring air conditioning contractors:
Research and gather information. Consumers can search for a contractor’s business profile at bbb.org to check information on their history of complaints, read verified customer reviews, get a contact number for licensing agencies and see if they are a BBB Accredited Business.
Ask for references. What was the consumer’s overall experience with the contractor and did the contractor provide quality work? Verify that the contractor kept and upheld the estimated budget and completion date for the project.
Ask for multiple quotes. Shop around and get at least three quotes from different businesses with the same set of criteria. Remember, the lowest bid may not necessarily be the best bid. If one bid is significantly lower than the others, the contractor might be cutting corners or may not understand the work required.
Get the information in writing. Always get everything in writing and never let work begin without a signed agreement. Read and understand any agreement, fully, prior to signing. Don’t give in to high pressure sales tactics. Contracts should include contact information, start and completion dates, a detailed description of the work to be done, material costs, proper permit information, warranty information and payment arrangements. Make sure all verbal promises are included.
Verify license and insurance. Make sure the business selected has the necessary licenses and insurance. Consumers can verify their licence/s at the Contractors State Licence Board (in Arizona, refer consumers to the AZ Registrar of Contractors).
Inquire about a lien waiver. A lien waiver is a contractor’s statement which guarantees all suppliers and subcontractors have been paid for their work.
Arrange a payment schedule. Never pay in full, up front and do not pay with cash. Stagger payments so the final payment is not due until the work is complete and has been approved. BBB suggests writing a check to a company, not an individual or use a credit card. Paying with a credit card will provide some recourse if an issue arises.
Get a receipt and keep the contract. Request a receipt marked “paid in full” when the job is complete and the final payment has been made. Hold on to the contract for future reference or if any questions come up after the work is done.
When hiring an HVAC contractor, there are also considerations specific to heating and ventilation. To learn more click here.