Thursday, October 06, 2005

ROT IN HELL HVAC TECHS.

Let me give you a little background. A situation occurred at the beginning of the year that I may talk about later which has caused my husband and I to need to sell our house, as soon as humanly possible. We were about 50% done with a fixer-upper, and have needed to complete the other 50% by the end of the year. Much of the process has been like crawling through broken glass. No... make that crawling through broken glass while having a seizure, while having someone jump up and down on your back so the glass is imbedded really deep.

While trying to complete the house... many, many things have interrupted the flow of getting things done. This is just one of many.

I would say about a month ago, our really old dinosauric heater died. My husband and I debated whether to just replace the unit. Normally, that is what we would have done. The hitch is that if we replaced the unit, we would have to add AC. If we don't, likely the new owners would have to - due to the heat in our area. Or wonder why if we spent the money for a brand spanking new heater, we just didn't spend an extra few grand to add AC. Adding AC to this house has always presented a problem because of the location of the furnace. Perhaps new owners would be okay with an AC unit on top of the house. I personally have never liked the idea. Let them figure out what they want to do. AC doesn't add that much to resale value anyway.

So after trying to diagnose the problem, we threw in the towel and started calling HVAC techs to come out. Since our pilot light stayed lit, the net was almost useless to us. The usual route went "blowers wont ignite". Resolution "check your pilot light". Thanks a f'ing lot.

The first company couldn't get to us for a few days. No problem. I called on a Monday, and had an appointment for Thursday. They called back later that day to move my appointment from the morning to the afternoon. I am fine with this. It isn't cold yet, but I am watching the news everyday and getting a little jittery. 70 bucks just to knock on the door. Still no problem. On Wednesday, the company called to reschedule for the following Monday. I was kind but firm and told them no way, my furnace is broken. The receptionist actually told me" Well, we thought it was warm outside". I of course was speechless. In my head I am thinking "are you people insane!?!", but I can't actually even say anything.

First, my repair doesn't hinge on your feeling that it was warm enough to put me off for a full week. Second, why would we trust a company that conducts business like this? The weather turns on a dime around here. Often, like flipping a light switch. After I balked, she actually started dialing the time back.

Her, "how about Saturday".
Me, no.
Her, "well what about Friday".
Me, "speechless".
Her, " maybe we can get you in Thursday afternoon".

The same day in fact the appointment originally was. At this point I want to be really sarcastic, but I just can't bring myself to do it. I call my husband who is more level headed and have him tell them we are going with another company.

So we call the next company. Discovery Quality Service Inc. 3393 Clayton Rd. Concord California. 925-687-9860. They can come that day, but my husband isn't home, so I schedule for the next morning. 45 bucks just to knock on the door. Again... no problem. The house call seems pretty cheap compared to the other company. The techs actually arrive. I am super happy. It hasn't been easy to get workers to even show up. The economy can't be that bad because contractors don't seem to be hurting for work.

Then the trouble begins. They spend about a half an hour on our fuse box. To this day, I really can't figure out what they were trying to do, but the end result was they broke the box, and wound up wedging it out of the wall. The fuse was unrecognizable. They diagnose the problem as a bad fan center. $395.00. The estimate is $687.00 including $85.00 to replace the fusebox that they themselves broke. Not counting the $45.00 just to come out. At this point we are still in HVAC illiteracy. We weren't that happy about them ripping the fuse box out of the wall, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. So we weren't pissed. It is an old machine after all.

I take the fuse box to a lighting store who had a lot of retro parts. This is when we started to figure out just what fuck-ups these guys were. The lighting store guy wedges out the remaining piece of the fuse, and is able to give me a replacement. 3 bucks. BTW, the fuse screwed out like any other fuse of the type. The box is still broken, but he says if we can't find a new box, in a pinch we can just superglue it back together. Not happy about that...we start looking on the net to find the part they were going to charge us 85 bucks for, was $10.00 retail. Still not upset at this point. We get markup. My husbands dad knows people in the HVAC trade in a far away state, so I figure he can find a new compatible fan center. My logic is that they are at least charging 100% markup on the part, so with shipping we would still come out ahead.

Come to find out, the part is under 30 bucks. Now that we know what we are looking for, we again look on the net and are able to buy the part retail for about 50 bucks. Getting a little irritated, and shocked considering they were going to charge us almost $400.00 for just the part. Not even labor.

We wire in the new fuse box, and the new fan center, still dead. My husband (who is not an HVAC tech) started tracing back the electricity and finds our fan motor is blowing the fuse. My husband pulls the housing, and we take it into a parts shop, who opens it up. Low and behold.. the motor has fully fried. I feel relief. Yeah.... we are going to have heat. No mistaking the fan motor is bad. New fan.. 150 bucks. At this point, we have spent roughly 200 bucks. No big deal. We are irritated they didn't diagnose the motor, but shit happens. Well.. maybe that is not the honest truth. I am getting more irritated, because for the first part that cost 50 bucks they were going to charge $400, so I start to wonder how much they were going to charge for a part which cost us 150 bucks.

So we clean up the housing, put the new motor in. It spins beautifully. We're gonna have heat. We're gonna have heat. Wire it up, we are still dead. The blowers don't fire. Which they did before the HVAC techs came out. I'm going to slit my wrists, and start talking about just bringing a tech back to the house.

At the last minute we decide to wire the old fan center back into the furnace. We get it back in, fire the pilot light. Turn the thermostat up, and whoosh... the blowers ignite. I stand there looking at them like someone walking the desert for days who happens upon a lake. We are gonna be saved after all. We aren't going to die!

Well... all that is a lot dramatic, but this has been a long horrible, trying situation. Getting information has been incredibly difficult.

So let us recap. Discovery Quality Service Inc. 3393 Clayton Rd. Concord California. 925-687-9860 were going to charge us practically 700.00 for a part that was perfectly good. <insert heavy sarcasm> When it didn't fix the problem, they would simply tell us our motor had fried and take the other part out.

Unless specifically requested, I bet they wouldn't even have tested the old part to make sure it was bad. Plus.. I think most people would have just been so excited to have it fixed, they wouldn't have even questioned it.

Now, I don't mind paying a guy to come out to diagnose my problem (which right now is trying not to go ballistic), but what I do mind is paying for them to come out and railroad me into paying for a few unnecessary parts. I also mind that they have you bent over fully lubed because they charge for a house visit, and they count on you not wanting to pay for more than 1 or 2 house calls. Who wants to pay a couple hundred dollars to comparison shop? I also fucking mind paying 1000% markup. I mind paying $165.00 in labor for a part they broke, and to replace a part that would have taken an experienced tech 15 minutes to replace. (It took us less than an hour, and we have no experience at all.)

Don't get me wrong, the first time we put in the fan center it was a bitch, but mostly because we wanted to make sure we were careful with the wiring. The second time it took us about 10 minutes. Yes.. I know they charge an hourly rate, but 165.00 an hour is fucking excessive. I really fucking mind that the reason they do this is so they can sell you a new set-up. And don't give me that bullshit about energy efficiency. Apparently just putting in a new motor makes it quite a bit more efficient.

11 comments:

Tapupartforpres said...

You choose the wrong HVAC tech you need a honest one.

If you are ever in need of heating, cooling, air conditioning & ventilation repair or maintenance on the Outer Banks contact Outer Banks HVAC

Anonymous said...

Our a/c fan broke outside. Called our Homeowners Warranty -- they gave us name of contractor. Called them (Saturday) and they don't take any emergency calls! So they call Monday (hotter by the day) and come Wed informing us they will order the part and return on Friday. Except instead they call and say "its not covered." OK -- I ask, "how much?"
$500! WHAT? OK, how much is the part? "$200" So I ask "what is your LABOR rate???" The answer (sit down for this) $179/hour!!! I ask "what are you? corporate lawyers?" OK so I say, "sell me the part and I will get someone else to install it...." And they say "Nope, can't do that." IDIOTS. OK "Let it sit in your warehouse!!" I then order it from the internet for $119....find someone to install it for $60 (it took 10 minutes). DON'T call PARRISH SERVICES in Northern Virginia. BIG RIP OFF.

Anonymous said...

You are a complete jackass, and know nothing about what it costs to run an HVAC business. Idiots like yourself are prt of the reason prices go up. Hopefully, that dinosaur furnace of yours burns your damn house down. Ancient disconnects do break, we cant be responsible for YOUR shit. Go fuck yourself

she said: said...

Evidently, what it takes to run an HVAC business is lying and replacing parts that don't need to be replaced.

Good job on replying to a 5 year old post though. I'm sure it reflects your attention to detail.

Anonymous said...

ok 5 year old post.. ok any way bottom line is every one here is way over reacting.. im a a/c tech and have a lot of experience in the field.. company's do mark up the prices on motor's and other equipment due to time to go pick up the equipment if not stocked on the truck also gas ... a well a/c company will have the mojoraty of most of the parts most of the time including motors/filters/ect. also yes if you deal through your home warranty they will take 4 ever to fix it bottom line.. because your home warranty isnt a a/c company they have to hire a a/c tech or company to fill the job... also i agree some what on all the posts the people dont realize how hard it can be to diagnos a/c problems its not like a toaster is like a computer sends diffrent electical signals to turn on and off certain components at a time due to the thermostat setting and temprature with in the dwelling .. my best advise is if u feel a comapny screws you over file a complaint with the BBB and try a diffrent a/c company best to ask around like close friends who they think does a great job at hand... TEXAN A/C TECH...

Anonymous said...

Ok so you did not get a good company from the get go. Just a tip if everyone charges $80-100 just to show up and the one you choose charges $45 this should be a red flag. They obviously are not a "by the books type company" it costs much more then that to staff a truck worth $50,000 with tools ect.

Secondly $120-180 per hour is quiet normal. You consider the training, cost of business, tools, van, and wages to put a truck on the road is NOT cheap.

Understand that it is not cost prohibitive to ask multiple companies to come out to get quotes but you can call companies and ask for references and call the BBB in your area to find out their track record.

Yes there is crappy companies but please don't lump all of us into the "Bad HVAC guys" tag.

Good luck in the future.

Anonymous said...

As a HVAC Tech / Refrigeration Mechanic I was quite intrigued by the "ROT IN HELL HVAC TECHS" punchline, pretty eye catching haha well done!

I was going to get all riled up by that title until i read the story and i thought "okay, fair enough".

In my time i've only really worked for manufacturers, and i'm not privy to the $$$ involved running a business, but if you go screwing your customers around like that you won't exactly thrive on the repeat business or glowing references from other customers, and eventually you would have to go bust. It's unsustainable business.

I guess there's some solace in that fact, so i hope that makes you feel a little better. That, and it was back in 2005, so maybe you won't remember it at all by now anyway...

Hope you had good luck with the house. If a Tech can't fault-find a simple control circuit, ground and continuity check an electric motor, they shouldn't be a HVAC Tech. Just so you know, we HVAC Techs aren't all Fucktards like those you lucked upon. Anyways, you could try making your blog into a short story or a movie, it would be badass!

All the best.

she said: said...

That was a really nice post. You should stick around - we always welcome people willing to use the word fucktards.;)

Unknown said...

I own a HVAC company here in Powhatan VA. I had to read this because of the title. Unfortunately this type of story is the norm around this area. A lot of them are crooks that profit off of the ignorance of others, some just rob people. That is why I started my own company, to provide honest, dependable service. I have personally fixed 12 units over the phone this week by talking the client through basic troubleshooting. I do this free of charge. Also,if I do not repair a unit I do not charge. My rates aren't cheap but they are as low as I can keep them and still support myself.

Yeah, I am not rolling in cash, but I have very happy clients. We don't all suck. The best way to find a good company is ask friends, family, go to social media; LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and any other media that would have legitimate reviews from people you trust.

Good luck!

she said: said...

It really does warm your heart to get comments like these. Thanks for your comment G. Rice.

Anonymous said...

There are 2 types of techs. one has 10 years experience the other has one year repeated 9 times.