If you own a home in Phoenix, you have an AC system and you’ve had to call an air conditioning contractor for repairs. Unfortunately, you have also probably overpaid for those repairs. Having an HVAC system in the Arizona is a necessity, not an option, and dishonest HVAC companies count on that fact to overcharge for services and products. It’s unethical and wrong but it seems every company is doing it so what are you supposed to do? First, not every company works that way, but far too many have fallen into the “Big AC” mindset. Second, knowledge is power and with just a little education, you can defend yourself and your money from predatory companies. Here are 3 simple tips that will help you avoid getting ripped off.
Tip 1: Get Multiple Quotes
When your air conditioning goes out in the middle of summer and it’s 90 degrees in your home, all you care about is getting it fixed. We understand that in the moment the last thing you want to do is take the time to have multiple companies come out so you can compare quotes while your family is sweating on the couch. It’s a terrible position to be in and dishonest HVAC companies are ready to take advantage. Ever notice how their prices seem to sky rocket when the temperature climbs above 100? It is a profiteering mindset that has been around for decades. It’s also why it is imperative that you always have at least 3 different reputable companies give you a quote so you can compare and make an educated decision.
With that, we know how dangerous the extreme heat can be here in The Valley of the Sun, so if need be, stay a couple nights in a hotel room during this process. That may sound crazy but it can honestly save you thousands of dollars versus going with the first company you call.
Tip 2: The $20 Check Up Trap
The best way to avoid the above scenario is to have your AC system checked twice a year. In the Spring before the temperatures begin to rise and in the Fall after your system has been running all summer. Arizona summers are brutal on HVAC systems, especially those that are 10 years or older, and a quick check up can give you peace of mind. Be on alert for the cheap “check up” or “tune up” offer. Predatory companies love to offer a cheap system check up to get their foot in your door so they can sell services you don’t actually need. Most HVAC Techs make a low hourly rate and work on commission so the only way they can make real money is by replacing a component, which may not even need to be replaced, or by up selling a service. Here is an example.
The “refrigerant top off” trick. You may be told that the system is a little low on refrigerant and you need a pound. Here is where knowing how many pounds of refrigerant your system needs can keep you from getting ripped off. To juice their commission, dishonest Techs will add refrigerant that is not needed to increase the bill. Not only is this practice dishonest, but too much refrigerant often causes coil damage and leads to a major break down in the future. A quick internet search on your system can give you the knowledge to protect yourself.
Tip 3: The Preventative Maintenance Agreement (PMA) Bait and Switch
The Preventative Maintenance Agreement or, PMA, has been around as long as the HVAC industry. Originally these were a good way to insure your system was well maintained and offered protection against major costs due to a break down. That was in the past. Today the PMA is a sad shell of it’s former self and when you really look into what is now offered, the name itself is misleading. Very few companies offer actual maintenance with these plans. Most if not all break down the following way, the customer pays between $480 and $720 per year for two basic check ups and discounts ranging from 15% to 25% off parts and sometimes labor. Keep in mind that’s $480 to $720 per year per system with a contract ranging from 5-10 years or longer. That is a lot of money for a few check ups and what amounts to nothing more than a coupon book.
Those who have these agreements tend to find out rather quickly that PMA’s offer no real benefits or maintenance. A more accurate and truthful definition of PMA is Pouring Money Away. HVAC companies push these money traps for two main reasons. First, it’s a way to get free money under the guise of offering protection that never really existed. Secondly, by locking customers into these long-term agreements, they force them to use only their company for all repairs. To make it simple, PMA’s take both your money and your freedom while offering almost nothing in return.
There are other and better options for you. A little time spent researching online will save you a lot of money and give you real protection on your system. On that note, we at Fact HVAC offer a plan that provides actual service and protects the customer. It’s called The Real Maintenance Plan and it is real simple. All you will ever pay is $50 per month per system for 3 years. That’s it. Here is what you get for your money, two annual 21 point service inspections and full coverage on all parts and labor. If your system ever breaks down, we fix it at no cost to you. Putting the customer first is what a service plan is supposed to do.