Business Ethics: refers to the standards for morally right – or wrong—conduct in business. An internet search for the term business ethics returns words like honesty, integrity, loyalty, trustworthiness, fairness, law-abiding, and promise keeping are terms most often attributed to a reliable, ethical company.
Ethical companies can stand the test of time. Ethical companies stand behind their work and the products that they sell. There’s no shortage of Johnny-Come-Lately local companies that use attention-grabbing advertising and lower-than-low pricing to lure in new customers. These offers arrive via internet searches, Facebook ads, and thick, colorful fliers stuck to our doorknobs or stuffed in our mailbox.
In this week’s blog, I’d like to point out some of the most common “Too Good to be True” offers made by HVAC companies and why just about all of them fall short of their promise.
If Something Sounds Too Good to be True…
It’s almost become a cliché, but if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
The saying is probably one of the first lessons we learn as kids, but as adults, many of us still believe that it’s entirely possible to beat the system and potentially get something for nothing. As homeowners, you always look for a better-than-average deal, especially regarding big-ticket items like repairing or replacing HVAC systems.
It isn’t uncommon for businesses to steeply discount products and/or services to “get their foot in your door,” and many of these deals offer legitimate savings or other benefits.
Common “Too Good to Be True” HVAC Scams
$29 HVAC System Maintenance
For those that don’t know any better, these two seem –on the surface—to be exceptional deals. Who wouldn’t want to save hundreds of dollars on this essential HVAC-related service?
Regular HVAC system maintenance is the cornerstone of your family’s year-round comfort. A licensed and experienced HVAC technician that thoroughly inspects all HVAC-related components, replaces air filters, and cleans electrical components should cost between $250 – $350.
If an HVAC company comes to your house for a $29 service call, you must assume there is a catch. The catch is, once they’re in your home, the high-pressure upsell tactics begin. Many of these companies will attempt “scare tactics” to get you to commit to these upsells like mold remediation or replacing parts that aren’t damaged. Before you know it, that $29 maintenance service turns into hundreds of dollars’ worth of repairs.
When Nick’s Air Conditioning comes out to your home, for any reason, it costs the company roughly $100 – $150. Even if our technicians don’t perform any work, we still have to pay for the truck they arrived in, the tools and parts in the truck, the technician’s hourly wages and benefits, insurance for the truck, gas, business insurance, worker’s compensation, and the list goes on.
For this reason, Nick’s Air Conditioning provides a VIP Maintenance Plan for our customers that includes comprehensive inspection, replacement of filters, and up to 15% savings on future HVAC repairs or installations for $169. While this may seem expensive compared to some “deals” you may be offered, this works out to be a far better value.
$49 Duct Cleaning
Duct cleaning is a specialty service that needs to be done correctly to eliminate the source of any mold, fungal growth, dirt, and any other debris. Proper duct cleaning in a 2,000-square-foot home should cost between $550 and $1,200 and take a full day (or longer) to complete.
$49 and $99 duct cleaning deals are almost always a “bait and switch” tactic, and you can expect a “technician” to wipe down your AC vents, spray some compressed air into your exhaust fans, and call the job done. Of course, that same technician will have a list of items that weren’t part of your $29 service, but must be completed today, lest you damage your HVAC system even further. Again, a little research goes a long way. Make sure that all terms and conditions for any cut-rate service call are spelled out, and if you have any questions, ask them over the phone before they get to your home.
“Free” Furnace with Air Conditioner Purchase
This gem tends to pop up around springtime in Houston as we emerge from our week or two of winter and must again start considering cooling our homes for the summer.
The premise behind this deal is that if you buy a new air conditioning system at full price, the company will include a free furnace with your installation. The real downside of this deal is that the soon-to-be-installed HVAC system is from outdated backstock that has been sitting in a non-climate controlled warehouse for two or three years. Most of the HVAC systems sold by the “free-furnace” businesses are generally low-end, inexpensive builder’s grade units bought from contractors that didn’t sell during the previous years.
Refrigerant “Re-Charge” Deals
Air conditioners use a closed loop system to circulate liquid refrigerant in both its liquid and gaseous states. AC refrigerant does not break down over time, evaporate, or lose efficacy regardless of your system’s age. If your air conditioner needs to have refrigerant added, there is a refrigerant leak somewhere in the system, and merely “topping off” the unit is not the fix.
How Can I Avoid a “Too Good to be Real” Deal?
Spotting a “too good to be true deal” is one of the most powerful skills a homeowner can have. With so many local companies vying for your business in the HVAC market, the homeowner must exercise their due diligence before choosing a home service provider. Any company that offers to come to your home and provide a particular service, for a price far below the current market rate, is probably up to no good.
At Nick’s Air Conditioning, we genuinely believe that an educated consumer is a better customer. When it’s time to book an HVAC company to work in your home, do the research it takes to find the best deal from the best-suited company.
How Long Have They Been in Business?
Do not take this to mean that new businesses can’t possibly be as good as a company that’s been around for over forty years. Conversely, there are some businesses that, despite their questionable practices, that manage to hang in for decades. In other words, using a company’s longevity alone to gauge its reliability is a slippery slope. This is where the internet can step in to help make the decision.
Read All Company Reviews
I’m showing my age here, but it wasn’t very long ago that you had to rely on the local Yellow Pages or word-of-mouth from a neighbor to find home service companies. Every new service company starts with a clean slate, so be wary of any company with only a couple of glowing five-star reviews. It’s common practice for a company just getting started to have friends and family write a couple of biased reviews. Also, don’t panic if you find a company website with a few one- or two-star reviews. If the internet has taught us anything, it’s that you can’t please everyone, and that goes for residential services companies.
Ask A Neighbor
Seriously, ask the person who lives next door. The one you avoid eye contact with if you happen to be cutting the lawn at the same time. They had an HVAC company at their house last week, so it would be helpful to know their thoughts.
If the idea of social interaction is too scary to ponder, NextDoor is an excellent, localized resource where folks in your immediate neighborhood can post experiences with service companies.
Nick’s Air Conditioning will never use bait and switch tactics or low-ball prices to convince a potential customer to use our service. We rely on word-of-mouth and our collection of five-star reviews to do our boasting for us. In business since 1979, you can count on Nick’s to get your HVAC system ready to battle another blistering Houston summer and help you keep your family comfortable year-round.
Call Nick’s Today; We’re on the Way.