CONSUMER CORNER: As Temps Heat Up, Don’t Get Burned By HVAC Contractor
Provided by the Bucks County Department of Consumer Protection:
At this time of year, record-breaking temperatures are expected, and overloaded air conditioning systems can set the stage for shady sales tactics and unreliable contractors.
The potential for record-breaking temperatures could put a strain on air conditioners, putting families at risk for air conditioning repair scams. Members of the Bucks County Crimes Against Older Adults Task Force encourage consumers to seek out a reputable service company and follow the tips below to avoid pressured sales tactics and unnecessary or expensive repairs.
If the air conditioning fails, consumers want to have it repaired quickly! Consumers should do their homework and know their rights to make sure they don’t get “hot under the collar” because of some shady air conditioning repair company.
The following tips can help you avoid “not so cool” HVAC repair contractors:
- Before calling the service, take a moment to check a few basics. Has the circuit breaker tripped? Is your thermostat working? Are the filters on your unit dirty or clogged and in need of cleaning? If it’s small, you might be able to fix it yourself. Always ask the contractor if there are any diagnostic/service costs.
- Check Warranty Coverage: Your air conditioner may still be under manufacturer’s warranty. Be sure to check your owner’s manual or warranty to avoid paying unnecessarily for repairs that may be covered.
- Don’t be an easy target. Request and verify a contractor’s license by calling (717)772-2425 or if you have Internet access by checking it on the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General’s website: https://hicsearch.attorneygeneral.gov/ or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Investigate contractors with the Bucks County Consumer Protection Department to see if they have any complaints against a particular company.
- Online Reviews: Look up third-party reviews from the company’s own webpage. Give more weight to a company with many good reviews over a period of several years.
- Get multiple bids for extensive repairs: Try to get at least two or three bids for major projects. Discover the right size unit to cool your home and the energy efficiency of a new unit.
- Ensure all estimates are in writing: Before any sale, obtain a written contract of the equipment and services the company sells and evaluate it thoroughly before signing. Don’t sign anything that you disagree with or that feels “wrong” to you.
- Know your rights: Be wary if a contractor uses a sense of urgency in their sales methods. Some dishonest contractors may use high-pressure tactics to recommend repairs and replacements that aren’t really needed.
For additional consumer protection tips and brochures, including the PA Home Improvement Contractor Law booklet, visit the Bucks County Consumer Protection website at: www.buckscounty.gov search Consumer Tips. If you believe you have been the victim of an air conditioning repair scam or other form of consumer fraud, please contact the BCCP office at 215-348-6060.
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