Air Conditioning Contractors: How to Find One that Won't Scam You
There are a lot of scams out there. My grandmother was the victim of a scam artist in the parking lot of a grocery store. My father was scammed during a free trip to Arkansas. I was scammed at a baseball game. Scam artists even try to get you online, sending fake e-mails, pleading for cash. One easy way to get scammed is while trying to purchase and install something a lot of people want: air conditioning.
Don't Get Desperate
Sometimes buying or installing a new air conditioning system is a well thought out, well researched affair. But sometimes it comes out of nowhere and catches you off guard. If your system suddenly breaks or simply becomes too old to meet your needs, you may become desperate to replace it. That's when you are most susceptible to scam artists.
When selecting air conditioning contractors to hire, you should ask some important questions. Do they have general liability to protect your property as well as worker's compensation on their employees? If they don't have sufficient insurance and someone gets hurt on your property, it could turn into a major headache for you.
Also, get contact information. Air conditioning contractors should provide a physical address or some way to contact them other than a mobile phone number. They should be easy to reach by telephone and have a reliable system for reaching them after regular office hours, on weekends and holidays. On those rare occasions when you need emergency heating or cooling service, this contact information will be important.
Check with the Contractor's Board
Choosing between different air conditioning contractors can be tricky when you're not sure what you are looking for. Your first step should be to check with the contractor's board. It's best to deal with licensed air conditioning contractors to avoid scam artists. Ask for a contractor's license number and call the board to make sure the license is current and valid before agreeing to hire anyone. Also ask air conditioning contractors for 3 references of former customers who have purchased the same or a similar product to the one you are interested in.
Get Comparative Bids
The cost of air conditioning units and installation varies widely. Because of this fact, it's helpful to ask air conditioning contractors for comparative bids. Call around and compare the same type of unit. Also ask when the work will be done, what kind of warranty comes with the product and what experience the air conditioning contractors have with the unit.
Another way to make sure air conditioning contractors are on the up and up is to request referrals from friends, neighbors and relatives. Ask people you trust to give you the names of the air conditioning contractors they've used. This lowers your chance of getting scammed significantly.
You can also ask the Better Business Bureau for a list of air conditioning contractors that are BBB members. All BBB members commit to operate in an ethical manner and work with customers in resolving problems. The BBB can give you a report on the air conditioning contractors' customer service experience.
When talking to air conditioning contractors ask about the energy requirements of the unit. Purchasing an air conditioner that's more energy efficient saves you money. Also, replacing an old air conditioner and heater at the same time could save you hundreds of dollars when compared to replacing them separately.