Why You Need To Carefully Screen Any Emergency Heating And AC Repair Companies: 2 Horror Stories From The Trenches

Why You Need To Carefully Screen Any Emergency Heating And AC Repair Companies: 2 Horror Stories From The Trenches

Most people who start searching for an emergency heating and AC repair company aren’t thinking too clearly at the time. Usually, if you are searching for an emergency HVAC company it is because your furnace or your AC is broken, and in Texas, that can be a real emergency. During the heat of the summer, the temperatures can be well over 100 degrees even in the middle of the night. That can turn your home into an unlivable place within just an hour or two. This is precisely why you don’t have time to panic for too long.

However, while you may feel like you need to call for heating and AC repair right away, you still need to take some time to sift through your options. You don’t want to choose the wrong company because if the emergency is not taken care of properly, it can actually escalate and get even worse. There are plenty of horror stories out there about an emergency repair that has gone terribly wrong. The only thing worse than an emergency breakdown is a breakdown that ends up lasting for weeks because of one wrong move.

Curious about just how bad an emergency heating and AC repair can go? Take a second to read these stories about homeowners who ended up dealing with disasters as a result of poor HVAC company choices. While you cannot always control whether your HVAC system breaks down or not, you can control the company and the technicians that come out to look at it. Make sure you choose a reputable company so that you don’t end up in situations that mirror the ones below.

An Emergency That Turned Into a Waiting Game

As mentioned, summer in Texas is not a breeze, and if there is one thing everyone does during the summer month it is hidden inside their homes. Which turned into a problem Sunday night for Stacey when she realized that her AC system wasn’t working. Immediately she called an emergency heating and AC repair company because she knew that it wouldn’t be too long before it got super uncomfortable. While it was early summer and the night wasn’t as thick as it could be, it was still uncomfortable enough that she wanted her AC looked at.

Unfortunately, the company stated that it was the busy season and they had a lot of people lined up, but they could get out to her house first thing in the morning. Frankly, Stacey was impressed that someone would be able to make it out by the morning so she said okay and took the appointment. It was a rough night between the heat and worrying about the health of her AC system. However, Stacey did at least feel comforted by the fact that she only had to make it through the night before she could talk to an HVAC technician. For a few minutes she considered maybe calling another emergency heating and AC repair company, but she figured they were all booked up and crazy and this one was probably just as good as any other.

Stacey told her work that she would be working from home that day because she had to deal with the AC technician and sat in the kitchen by rotating and waiting for them to show up. She didn’t dare cook anything as it was already starting to heat up, so she made herself an iced coffee and tried to think cool thoughts while she completed her work. It seemed to be getting later and later, but she rationalized that “first thing in the morning” could mean different things to different people. However, when noon arrived she started to get suspicious that somehow she had got skipped.

She called the office back and no one answered the phone. Perhaps they were at lunch now, so Stacey left a message and kept waiting. Finally, around 4 pm she was soaked in sweat and tired of waiting for an AC repair technician that seemed to be lost in transit. She called the office three times in a row until someone finally answered. When they answered they seemed slightly annoyed, but so was Stacey at this point in the day and she didn’t care. They told her that they were sorry but no one was available to make it out to her home for the emergency heating and AC repair call. Stacey was furious, what type of emergency service was this if no one actually made it out to the house!

She knew that a lot of people had AC problems during the first heat wave of the season, but she only stayed in the house because she was waiting on an HVAC technician. If they weren’t going to show up she could have made arrangements to go to work where she at least would have been in the AC. They apologized lightly and said that they could reschedule for Tuesday. Unfortunately, Stacey had to be in court for a case on Tuesday and that was simply not something that she could move. So she had to take an appointment on Wednesday which did not make her happy at all.

Somehow that one unbearably hot night she had to make it through had turned into two more. Stacey contemplated getting a hotel, but it wasn’t unsafe yet to sleep at home, it was just terribly uncomfortable and she thought she could tough it out. Two more nights were doable so long as she spent the day somewhere cool. A day in court actually sounded appealing to Stacey, and that was saying something because she usually hated to sit in those chairs all day.

Finally, Wednesday rolled around and Stacey waited at home for the HVAC technician to show up. It inched past noon and she called several times again until someone finally answered and stated that this time they actually were planning to send someone out. She started getting concerned and almost called another heating and AC repair company when someone finally showed up late Wednesday.

He chatted with her for a brief minute about the AC and how it had been acting before it stopped working and then went to take a look at it. After a few minutes, the technician returned to the kitchen and told Stacey that he was pretty sure she had a refrigerant leak. This is why her AC was not able to cool her home down, but they could check to see where the leak was and then determine if it could be fixed or not. This sounded reasonable for Stacey, but the next part turned out not to be.

The HVAC technician said that in order to find out where the leak is they have to add some coolant with some dye to the HVAC system and then watch to figure out where the leak was located. While that seemed simple enough, it turned out that he was not certified to work with coolant so he couldn’t do it. Therefore, he would have to set up another appointment with a different HVAC technician at the firm to run the test. He said since it was considered an emergency heating and AC repair response visit they would try to get it done quickly, but that they were backed up.

Stacey wasn’t too happy about it, but she was glad the ball was at least moving. However, it turned out that the person who could do this would not be able to come out until the next week to actually do this. That meant now she had to last an entire week without her AC, and it looked like storms were in the forecast for a few of those days so she knew she could count on high humidity and windows that couldn’t be opened. It was going to be a long week and as a lawyer, she couldn’t help quibbling a bit with the technician about what the real meaning of the word emergency is. It seemed like this company took everything at a slow pace. She couldn’t imagine what service looked like if you didn’t have an emergency situation.

Before leaving, the HVAC technician also told Stacey that he recommended installing a pump on the unit since there were signs of moisture inside the unit. Given that we thought the moisture was a sign of a coolant leak it seemed like fixing the leak would fix the problem, but Stacey wasn’t sure if it really was that simple. Therefore, she agreed to the pump in an effort to hopefully fast-track this process and ensure that one more delay wouldn’t occur after the coolant leak was investigated.

Stacey waited one very long week in the heat, although she spent as much time as she could at the office so that she wouldn’t have to sit in the hot heat at home. It was possibly the only week when working overtime did not bother her. Finally, Monday rolled around and another HVAC technician came out to install the pump and then place the dyed coolant into the system. First, he installed the pump and ensured that it was working and then added more coolant. Finally, her system was working (at least for now) and she could cool off at home.

She wasn’t sure how long this would last, and apparently, neither was the crew since the job was not done yet. She thought that once the coolant was added they would be able to look for the leak right away, but instead, the heating and AC repair technician said that she would have to wait another week or so and then someone would come back and check the coolant. He warned her not to let anyone by the AC because refrigerant is highly poisonous and then left.

Surprisingly, the office did call to schedule the follow-up visit for another week from now. That made three weeks since the process began, making it possibly the longest emergency heating and AC repair that Stacey had ever dealt with. This saga was exhausting her and at this point she just wanted it to be over, but there was still more to come.

Two technicians showed up at Stacey’s home on Monday, this time bright and early for once (now that it wasn’t actually a true emergency heating and AC repair), and told her that based on what they found with the leak they had to replace the entire unit. At this point, Stacey was more angry than anything else. She had been playing appointment tag with these guys for three weeks and now they wanted to replace her unit? They should have just done that in the first place and it would have saved everyone a lot of time and trouble.

However, she also wondered if they made her spend money to install a pump on the old system while they were still investigating the leak. They were quick to make sure that got done and they were paid for the service, but now that she needed a new HVAC system altogether it seemed like that was a pointless improvement. Stacey felt that an experienced crew of heating and AC repair professionals should have been able to tell that her unit needed to be replaced from the start, but she let it go because she didn’t have time to focus on the details.

She couldn’t keep taking off time from work or working from home to deal with this AC issue. She needed to get it resolved and over with. Sleeping in the heat was affecting her mood and her performance at work and she had to get done with this chapter so she could get back to normal.

Of course, the company couldn’t schedule the replacement right away because first they had to order a new unit and that was apparently on backorder. Stacey was starting to feel like this nightmare with the emergency heating and AC repair company was never going to end. It was just one long cycle of appointments that was going to last for the rest of her life, or until she shriveled up into a dry prune from the harsh Texas heat that she was dealing with every night.

Regardless of the wait, she signed the invoice so that things would start moving and attempted to stay positive knowing that eventually this would end. At this point, it was a little harder to believe that the next step would fix the problem because she had already had a lot of “next steps” and she was still sleeping in the heat. Even the people she worked with had started joking that her emergency nightmare was more like time in HVAC limbo. If you asked Stacey it felt more like purgatory complete with the heat.

Finally the emergency heating and AC repair company called Stacey and told her that they had a new unit and could come out to her home to replace the unit. She was beyond happy and let the crew in early in the morning to begin the job. The HVAC technicians were not very friendly and seemed a bit gruff, but she stayed out of their way and was just happy to see the work getting done. It didn’t really matter how it happened so long as a new AC was installed to save her from this heat.

Once the job was complete Stacey took a look and was immediately dismayed to find that she didn’t have a programmable thermostat. During the invoice period, she had specifically asked for a programmable thermostat and that request was clearly reflected on her invoice. She had paid for it but had a much more classic thermostat that could not be programmed. Since Stacey spent a lot of time out of the house this was very important to her so that she could control the temperature of the home remotely.

Of course, the emergency heating and AC repair technicians knew nothing about the matter and said that there was nothing they could do about it. She would have to call the office and deal with it in the morning, but as the installation took so long the office was now closed so she would have to wait until the morning. If there was one thing that Stacey was good at by now, it was waiting until the morning.

It’s been a few weeks and Stacey is still waiting on her programmable thermostat. It has crossed her mind that it may be quicker to talk to a different HVAC company. She is pretty sure that this is not how the entire process is supposed to go but is so far invested at this point that she doesn’t want to switch to another HVAC company. Plus, she now has a four-year service contract with the original company so she is hoping that means she gets better customer service.

Stacey made a few mistakes throughout the process of finding an emergency heating and AC repair company because she didn’t know better. She continually put up with bad service because she mistakenly listened to the company tell her that this is how it was everywhere. When really she should have called around to see if someone could have fit her in faster. The first day when they canceled completely on her should have given her some insight into how the company treats its customers.

However, even more important, when Stacy was searching for an emergency heating and AC repair company she should have taken a minute to read reviews. She ended up choosing one of the first names she saw because she just wanted to get help. She wasn’t focused on making sure she worked with the best company. Had she read some reviews she would have seen that their customer service was terrible and they were known for standing up to customers and adding extras to their service. She already has been charged for a pump for a failing unit and who knows what will happen at her next service visit.

At any rate, she could be waiting a while to have her thermostat fixed as well. Stacey knows this deep down inside as well, but she is so busy that she just doesn’t know how to get back out of this mess without devoting more time than she already has. Once again, this is why they say that prevention is the best way to treat a problem. In the future, checking reviews and doing some research even in the midst of an emergency, can save you from getting wrapped up with a heating and AC repair company that isn’t worth your time.

Bait and Switch

Jack had a similar experience where what he was told didn’t seem to match up with what happened, and he felt taken advantage of because he was dealing with an emergency heating and AC repair issue. Jack called for help with his AC on a Thursday night when he discovered that his AC was running but it was not effectively cooling his house down. He had actually noticed he was uncomfortable for a few nights, but it finally clicked on Thursday that something was definitely wrong with this AC. The rising temperatures outdoors probably helped him realize that he had to do something now.

So he got online and found a heating and AC repair company that said they could be there first thing in the morning. Given he had already made it through the week he knew he could go a couple more hours until the morning so that was fine he said. They came promptly in the morning and took a look at the AC system for about five minutes. It seemed like a rather quick inspection, but the HVAC technicians quickly said the problem was the motor.

Jack was a little concerned about how they could have figured out the problem so quickly, but then he figured that this must be something that happens frequently on older AC units. Therefore, it was probably one of the first things they checked and when they saw that it wasn’t working right they knew. It did bother him a little that his AC was still running just fine, it just wasn’t cooling his house down. In his mind if his AC was running then how bad could the motor be? It seemed like the issue would have been caused by something else.

Still, Jack knew he wasn’t a professional and that things could be happening that he couldn’t see. The emergency heating and AC repair company had sent out two technicians, so if both thought it was this problem then it probably was since they knew more about it than he did anyhow. Lucky for Jack, the motor was a common piece and they were able to leave and get it and come back later in the day to replace it. The motor cost about $820 but was supposed to be the final fix that would get things back into shape.

Once they left Jack was relieved that his home should finally start cooling down. So he turned it on and let the magic start. He noticed that his AC was cycling on and off the way that it should, but there was still one problem- his home was not cooling. He waited through the start of the weekend to call because he was hopeful that the system just had to run some to work out the kinks, but that did nothing. Now Jack was angry, he spent a lot of money to be in the same position with a running AC but a home that wasn’t cold. He was likely spending a lot on energy costs as well, for very little payoff. In addition, it was heating up outside and the house was starting to feel a bit like a heat trap.

He was able to schedule a visit for Monday and the same two HVAC technicians came back out that were originally sent by the emergency heating and AC repair company. They took a look and said the motor looked fine, but that he had other problems. They purposely avoided saying that they had replaced the wrong item or that anything had happened that was caused by them. In fact, they made the statement that “two days was a long time for an AC and anything could have happened.”

This certainly irritated Jack since he felt the technicians should have at least acknowledged that they were just here. Surely if they had fixed the problem on Friday they wouldn’t be back a second time. Plus, he was annoyed. What exactly did they mean that anything could have happened over the weekend? Were they implying that he had purposely sabotaged his own AC unit so that he would have to call the heating and AC repair company back to his home? The thought seemed absurd the more he thought about it.

While Jack stewed, the HVAC technicians looked over his HVAC system and said they had to make a few phone calls. Their words seemed quite ominous, and Jack didn’t like the tone of the discussion. Nothing good ever comes from someone needing to check back in with their boss, and he had a bad feeling about what they were going to come back and tell him.

When they returned, they told Jack that the air conditioner needed more coolant and that was the reason that the air wasn’t cooling. Jack felt like an idiot because that was what he thought in the first place, and he was angry with himself for not bringing it up. He had assumed that the techs would bring it up and instead, they focused on the motor which was a useless repair in his mind since nothing changed by replacing it.

The news got even worse though, the emergency heating and AC repair technicians told Jack that the air conditioning unit was so old that the specific type of coolant it used is no longer manufactured or available for sale. In other words, the entire unit was now outdated and unable to be fixed. However, they happened to have some coolant on hand, but it was very expensive due to how rare it was. They said that if he wanted the coolant they could refill it, but that would cost $1,000. Jack felt like they were selling snake oil at this point, but it got even worse from there.

If he didn’t want to pay for expensive coolant, which they recommended he not since it would just leak out again (they did not mention doing any type of repair work to actually stop the leak prior to putting new coolant in), he could just replace his entire AC unit. They quoted him $5,000 to replace the entire AC unit. Now the cost of the AC unit was not exorbitant considering industry prices, but everything surrounding the suggestion to replace the unit was.

This company had already charged him $820 to replace the motor, an additional $155 service fee just for coming out, and an extra $100 emergency heating and AC repair charge because they considered his first visit an emergency visit. Now his choices were to spend another grand on mystical coolant without taking any action to stop a leak or spend five times as much to replace the unit. Jack was more than suspicious at this point and he told the HVAC guys that he just wasn’t sure what to think.

He wanted to tell them that he was going to get a second opinion from another emergency heating and AC repair company, but he had already invested so much money with them that he first wanted to try to get some of the money back. Jack told them that this was their fault that they misdiagnosed the problem just a few short days ago, and he wanted his money back from that before he would consider working with them again. He didn’t see why he should have to pay for a piece that wasn’t actually broken, and how he could trust them to do the job right now.

Maybe his system wasn’t even leaking coolant! Or maybe he didn’t need to replace the entire system because there were other more affordable choices. He felt like he was slowly being strung along and defrauded.

The technicians quickly attempted to soothe his fears by telling him that if he decided to replace his entire unit with them, he could get the money he already spent credited towards the replacement. This included the $820 for the motor replacement but did not include the money he had already wasted on the service fees and the emergency heating and AC repair visit.

Jack no longer trusted the company and didn’t want to work with them anymore, so he asked if he could be refunded for the improper diagnosis and then the transaction would be over. Once he got his money back he figured he would get a second opinion before putting down any major money. Plus, he didn’t have that kind of money right now for a replacement and would have to get a bank loan. It bothered him that his system was clearly running just fine; there was just something preventing it from properly cooling and he wanted to investigate that first.

The HVAC company however did not agree, and they said that he would only get the credit if he went ahead and invested in a new unit. Otherwise they would only refund him $300 of the money he had already spent. This seemed even more absurd to him than refusing to refund him at all. It seemed they were now making up arbitrary numbers and payment agreements and just expecting him to play along.

Jack really didn’t trust the company at this point and wanted out. He declined to replace the unit and told them that he would like his refund and would be filing a complaint with his credit card. The chargeback is currently waiting, and Jack isn’t even sure that he got back the $300 they told him that he could be refunded, let alone the rest. The so-called emergency heating and AC repair company does not pick up the phone when Jack calls. He had asked to speak to the manager but was never allowed to. The entire time that he was negotiating with the techs they kept stepping out to talk to their “bosses.” Jack felt like he was arguing with a wall with a company that kept $500 just because they could.

Like Stacey, Jack’s biggest mistake was that he didn’t properly read reviews of the heating and AC repair company that he chose before hiring them. He dove right in with the first one that he got ahold of and assumed that things would work out fine. Had he taken a minute to read some of their reviews he would have seen that they tend to overcharge customers and often don’t offer the right fixes for problems.

Jack could have been prepared for them and trusted his gut instinct more, but he let panic overtake him when he realized that his AC unit wasn’t working right. All he could think about was the hot weather that was coming his way, he wasn’t thinking about the expertise or reputation of the emergency heating and AC repair company he was working with.

In the end, Jack had to eat his losses and is waiting to see if his credit card company will declare it fraud or not. He is also waiting for another HVAC company to give him a second opinion, but he doesn’t want to pay for another emergency heating and AC repair visit, and it’s a very busy time of year in Texas. Therefore, he might be stuck baking in his home for a few weeks before he even gets someone to come to take a look. It’s now a race to see who can make it longer, Jack or the company that is trying to steal his money essentially. Only time will tell.

HVAC repair doesn’t have to go this way. There are reputable companies with experienced technicians who are able to diagnose problems promptly and fix issues during the first visit. One of the major signs that you are working with a great company is work ethic and respect. Technicians that treat you with respect from the start are more likely to work for you instead of thinking of ways to “win” against you.

In Stacey’s case, the technician only looked at her AC unit for a few minutes before telling her that she had a leak. In Jack’s case, the technicians did not open anything up. They just told Jack that he had a problem with his motor and that was supposed to solve anything. They effectively made their choices from the outside looking in, which is not what a fully trained HVAC tech should do. Now that you know that fact, you can make sure that the emergency heating and AC repair that comes to your home is worth their snuff. Pay attention to how they inspect your unit and make sure they put some time into their diagnosis.

If you don’t understand something, ask questions. They should be able to explain everything in full length to you. If something doesn’t make sense, don’t be afraid to ask questions until it does. Companies that want to defraud or cheat clients depend on their ignorance to succeed. Refuse to be ignorant by becoming fully engaged with the repair process.

Are you worried that you may need emergency repair? Contact One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating of Dallas to schedule an appointment today.

See our most recent blog on this topic here.

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