6 A/C Service Scams (and How to Beat Them)

September 15, 2016

Having a dead A/C in Florida can be dangerous. Not only does the hot weather make your family miserable without cool air, the high humidity can damage your home.

Unfortunately, scammy HVAC repair companies will try to take advantage of you in this desperate situation.

But have no fear! We’ll show you the most common HVAC scams in Florida and how to avoid them.

Scam 1: Unlicensed Imposters posing as Professionals

Believe it or not, some people are robbed of their money by fake HVAC professionals. These imposters aren’t licensed to repair HVAC units and often don’t know anything about them at all.

They may pretend to work for a company that doesn’t exist or impersonate employees of legitimate companies. Usually, these scammers approach potential customers with free inspection offers, and once in your home, they attempt to upsell you unnecessary repairs or even unit replacement. According to area HVAC companies, the elderly are disproportionately targeted and conned by scammers, due to their unawareness of the warning signs and tendency not to research companies before doing business with them.

Scam 2: Refrigerant recharge scam

If an HVAC repairperson tells you that your faulty A/C unit just needed more refrigerant or refrigerant and doesn’t perform any repairs, you’ve likely been scammed.

A/C units don’t use up refrigerant; the only reason for low refrigerant levels in your home’s air conditioner is that there’s a leak that needs to be repaired. If there is a leak, a scammer who only adds more refrigerant to the unit is setting himself up to collect ongoing payments for refills.

Scam 3: Frequent cheap tune-ups

If an HVAC company tries to schedule more than one or two annual tune-ups for your A/C, they’re cheating you. It’s recommended that an A/C unit receive one annual tune-up, with one every six months being optimal. Any more often than that is unnecessary, and you’ll be wasting money on the tune-up fees, maybe even for no actual work. 

Also, if those tune-ups prices are something absurdly low (free to $15), they’re most likely offering those tune ups as a way to find something to “fix,” even when nothing needs fixing.

Scam 4: Unnecessary unit replacements

A brand new A/C unit is expensive, usually a few thousand dollars. HVAC scammers and dishonest companies stand to make a large profit by selling customers new units they don’t need.

If your A/C is on the fritz, it does need to be repaired but not necessarily replaced. Convincing customers that they need to buy a new unit, when the one they have simply needs an inexpensive repair, is an easy scam to pull—and a profitable one.

If a contractor says you need a new unit, ask them why. An A/C system usually last 10-15 years. So if your system is younger than that, the contractor needs a good reason to make that suggestion.

Scam 5: Bait and switch

A common Florida HVAC bait and switch scam involves false advertising for duct cleanings. Scammers, which can include licensed HVAC repair businesses, bait new customers with dishonest promotions for cheap duct cleanings to score appointments.

Once in your home, they attempt to upsell you on unnecessary A/C repairs or replacements and sometimes hike up the duct cleaning price to a more realistic rate, sometimes without even cleaning the ducts at all.

Scam 6: Mold scam

Similar to duct cleaning scams, mold scams pulled by HVAC companies have been reported in Florida. Whether on a visit to repair an A/C unit or on a scheduled air duct inspection, some HVAC scammers have lied to customers about finding mold in their air ducts, charging as much as $1,500 for removal. These scammers usually haven’t performed mold assessment testing and often don’t even hold professional licenses to provide mold-related services.

How to Dodge HVAC Scammers

  • Do your research. Check the HVAC company’s website and look for customer reviews on Yelp, Facebook, Angie’s List, and Google. See if the company you’re considering has a rating with the Better Business Bureau. 
  • Get a second opinion from a different contractor.
  • Never pay upfront in cash.
  • Ask for estimates in writing.
  • Sign a contract prior to repairs or unit replacement.
  • Ask for the old parts when they’re replaced. That way if a contractor says they replaced a part, you’ll know they actually did.

Live in the Fort Myers area and need a reliable HVAC company?

Advanced Air has a 5-star customer rating, and we’re here to answer your questions. Call us at 239-768-5558 or save 10% on repairs when you schedule service online.