When we think of autumn, we often think of the many great things that come along with cooler weather. Unfortunately, fall is also the season we start to see HVAC scams happen throughout town. Door-to-door, telephone solicitors and sometimes even mailers are used, but luckily there are many ways to help identify HVAC fraud.
All situations have varying factors, but these warning signs may help to identify a scam or fraudulent activity. Here are a couple common things to watch for along with tips on how to identify and avoid any HVAC fraud or scams.
1) They Do Not Have Local Contact Information
This one is especially true in Northern Ontario. If a company does not have a local phone number or local office you can contact them at, you may be dealing with a fraudulent company. Here are some tips to determine if the company you’re dealing with is a reliable HVAC contractor:
- Ask where their office is located, or how to contact a local customer service representative.
- Be wary if the representative does not have a form of business card or information on their work truck with local contact information.
- Visit their company website and seek information that relates them to your hometown or surrounding areas.
- When in doubt, contact a trusted local contractor to seek clarity or assistance.
2) They Use a Bait and Switch Approach
Does an offer seem too good to be true? If so, it probably is! Many untrustworthy contractors use below market pricing to reel in customers for a service appointment for the purpose of obtaining access to your home and home comfort system. Once they have access they will find or manufacture an issue with the equipment before ‘fixing’ or sometimes even replacing the equipment, to land you with an astronomical bill.
- Be cautious of unsolicited contractors and become informed before allowing them into your home for service or sales.
- Inspect the HVAC system before contracting for repairs
- Be cautious of any HVAC contractor that offers to provide a quote over the phone or via email.
- Request a written quote, including the full price of all repairs or installations.
- If unsure if an offer is valid, call or visit the local office for validation.
3) Pushy Sale with Unclear Information
Many times a fraudulent contractor or sales representative will be very pushy to make a sale. This is usually a bad sign. They will also not be able to provide accurate or clear information about their products or the company and are not able to provide a full price up front.
- Get at least two quotes from different companies, but beware of contractors who offer low prices without being able to provide references or other information about their business practices.
- Many companies offer financing options, warranties, and other perks. Be sure to ask about the terms and read the fine print as they may be trying to hide hidden costs.
- Specific to air conditioning units, ‘recharging refrigerant’ or ‘recharging the system’ is often a way to create multiple repairs. If it needs to be recharged, there is a leak and they should be searching for the cause of the leak to properly fix the issue.
- If you notice anything glaringly suspicious about an HVAC salesperson, call your local authorities.
The biggest piece of advice is to do your research and find a company that has built up trust over time. You can ask friends, family members or neighbours for referrals in order to get recommendations for reliable contractors. Your home comfort system is the most important appliance in your home, and often the most expensive. For these reasons, you want to ensure you are dealing with a reputable and licensed contractor you can trust. Don’t fall for door-to-door, phone or email scams and be wary of any ‘too good to be true’ offers. Watch for companies that are not able to provide you with clear, and straightforward information, and ensure the company you deal with has a history of high-quality work, reputable employees and licensed technicians.
For all home comfort needs in Sault Ste Marie and Northern Ontario, including concerns regarding possible scams or fraud, contact us!