The cool autumn weather has arrived and, for many people, now is the ideal time to have your furnace serviced or upgraded before the busy winter season starts. Better Business Bureau warns the public to be cautious about misleading heating contractors who may use scare tactics to convince homeowners to buy a new furnace or authorize expensive, but unneeded, repairs to their existing heating system.
“At this time of year we see an increase in complaints about heating contractors offering everything from duct cleaning to furnace inspections,” says Sandra Crozier-McKee, President and CEO for BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenays. “While most furnace companies are reputable, competent, and fair, there are fraudulent and unethical companies that may try to frighten consumers into unnecessary installations or repairs using fear as their main tactic.”
Last fall, BBB received complaints about a heating contractor making unsolicited phone calls offering inexpensive, even free, cleaning services, only to show up with inadequate equipment and recommendations for expensive and unnecessary upgrades.
BBB has also received reports in the past of fraudulent contractors soliciting door-to-door and attempting to frighten consumers into purchasing a new heating system with warnings that their current system was leaking dangerous gases that could explode or poison those inside the house.
Last year, BBB received 61 complaints against businesses in this industry. So far this year, BBB has already received 71 complaints.
Before you choose a heating contractor consider the following tips:
Start with BBB. You can find out helpful information like owners, company addresses, and customer service information by visiting the company’s reliability report at: www.calgary.bbb.org
Hire heating contractors who:
· Are or employ certified gas fitters
· Are bonded and insured for liability and property damage
· Can provide you a copy of the gas permit authorizing the company to work on your heating system
· Offer warranties that cover equipment, materials and labour
· Offer maintenance and service after installation and after warranties have expired
· Provide customer references
Get at least two estimates for the work. All bids should be in writing and should provide a full description of the services to be provided and the materials to be used.
Compare more than just cost. Check the size and rated efficiency of the equipment each contractor recommends. Ask each contractor how they arrived at recommending a particular sized system. Check the warranty offered and make certain you understand it.
Report misleading door-to-door sales practices. Direct sales contracts can be cancelled for any reason within 10 days of the consumer receiving a copy of the contract.
For more information or to arrange for an interview please contact: