Air Comfort failed to repair the air conditioning units correctly and per industry standard procedure.
Our AC stopped working on July 14. On July 15, Air Comfort technician xxxxx came and said that both our AC units were frozen. He said they needed to thaw out and that he couldn't do anything that day. We paid $89 for the service call and had another night without air.
On July 16, he pumped 5 lbs of R-22 freeon and then put a dye to detect the leak. He said that the units had been cleaned. He also told us he would come back the next day to see where the leak was. We paid $637.50 for the service.
On July 17, he came to check the leak and told us something about a bulb being broken on his flashlight. He said that he would replace it and be back in an hour. Later he called that there were some issues in procuring the bulb and that he would be back on Monday.
On Saturday, July 18, the upstairs unit stopped working and the inside temperature was 86 degrees. I called the office and as usual, got the call center. I left 3 messages for the technician on call and did not get a response. I finally called xxxxx and was told that nothing could be done because we were not on the maintenance program. I asked him to call the technician on call. xxxxx called late Saturday and after hearing the case, confirmed there was a major leak. xxxxx said he would get into the office soon after 8 am on Monday and have them send him or another person Monday morning. On Monday morning, no one from Air Comfort called. I called and left a message with the call center again informing them that I would lodge a complaint with BBB.
On Monday, July 20 I called two large heating/cooling companies in the xxxxx area to verify whether the process Air Comfort had followed was an industry standard. Both companies confirmed that that the leak should have been detected BEFORE 5 lbs of freeon was pumped in. Finally I scheduled one of them to run a diagnostic and paid $89 for it. This company did an electronic leak search, took apart the units and showed us exactly where the leak was, what caused it, and said that both units were so dirty that Air Comfort should not have proceeded with the freeon without cleaning out the units and finding the leak. I have pictures to prove it.
I am seeking a refund of $637, the charge for 5 lbs of free on that should not have been pumped in without the prior detection of leaks and cleaning out the coils.
There are a number of facts this customer has intentionally omitted. For the record, we are not beyond making mistakes. If we do make a mistake we will go above and beyond expectations to make up for an error. However, in this case the only mistake we made was not providing enough explanation to make sure that the customer understood our processes. We did explain the process but based on her complaint she must have not understood or simply chose to ignore our instructions.
On 7/15/15 the customer called our office claiming that neither of her two AC units was cooling. We instructed her to turn off the system and to wait for our arrival. We instruct our customers to turn off the equipment as continuing operation can cause further complications. When our technician arrived both units were still running. Upon inspection our tech discovered that both systems were severely iced over. Ice formation will occur for several reasons including low refrigerant (Freon).
Please keep in mind that we have been extremely bust due to the warm temperatures in the area over recent weeks. Our technicians are running 6-8 calls per day and the techs must move from call to call in a timely manner.
When our tech arrived and saw the systems incased in ice he knew that the customer failed to turn off the equipment. At that point he turned the system off and told the customer that it would take 3-6 hours for the ice to melt. We cannot service or repair a system incased in ice, so we told the customer we would return the following day. The customer claims she spent "another night without air" but fails to tell you that the reason was her failure to turn off the system as she was instructed to do.
On 7/16/15 our technician returned and found the ice had melted and began to run a system diagnostic. The tech determined that the problem was low Freon on both systems and that the systems had a Freon leak. Keep in mind that at this point the technician has no idea as to the leak rate. The tech explained the three different types of leak search and the pros and cons with each. The three types of leak search are: electronic leak detection, dye test or pressure test. For various reasons technicians will recommend one of these three methods. Some techs simply prefer one test over the other and sometimes the situation may dictate which test may be more suitable, but all the aforementioned methods adhere to industry standards.
As a company we prefer the dye test as it will leave a trace of dye at all leak points. Electronics can give you false readings or in some cases not find the smaller leaks. In either case the system has to have refrigerant in order to detect a leak. As with all customers we explained the choices and the customer and technician agreed on the dye test. At this point we recommend charging the system and adding the dye. The dye must be in the system with the system running for 24-48 hours. The system must be charged to factory specs in order to operate and circulate the dye. This is exactly the process that must be followed and is certainly directly on line with industry standards practices. Furthermore, adding Freon will also enable the system to work properly and cool the home. As you might be able to tell by her letter this customer was insisting that we leave with her system cooling. We added two pounds to the first system and 5 pounds to the second system.
As the federal government is phasing out R22 freon the cost has become very expensive. Our prices are certainly in line with industry standards, but this customer immediately began to complain of the cost. While the technician was there she called two other companies and found that one had higher rates and the other was slightly lower but had a higher service call fee. We normally charge $150.00 per pound, which for seven lbs. would be $1050.00, but our tech felt so bad for her that he gave her a 15% discount on the first five lbs. (637.50) and gave her the other two lbs at no charge. In addition a leak search is normally $257.00 per system, again feeling bad for the customer he told her that he would provide the dye test at no charge if she used us for repairs. How dare this person complain!!!! Our technician saved her over eight hundred and she complains. We are a family owned business and we try to help those who claim they are in need...we just don't understand some people.
We informed the customer we would return Friday the 17th or Monday the 20th to look for the leak. As the technician was experiencing a problem with the black light used for dye detection, we called the customer and told her that it would be Monday 7/20/15 when we would return. The customer told us that Monday would be fine. On 7/18/15 the customer again called our afterhour's answering service claiming the system was not cooling again. A technician returned her call and let her that a leak repair had to be completed during normal business hours. Distributers who handle coils and various repair items are closed on the weekends. He told her that we would be out Monday as planned.
Apparently this was not a good enough answer and she called out another company. That company performed a electronic leak test and told her she had a Freon leak.
Our owner spoke with her early Monday morning and assured her that our service manager would be her home between 10:00 and 12:00 she agreed to that appointment and then an hour later cancelled and asked us to place her on the schedule for Tuesday 7/21/15. Late Monday afternoon she called and cancelled that appointment. We don't know what game she is playing but we want nothing else to do with her. We certainly don't believe that it is fair that we provided two dye tests at no charge and discounts on Freon and still be manipulated in this manner. Our records will show her as owing an outstanding balance for both leak searches (unless she uses us for repairs). Actually, at this point we simply feel used. We will go ahead and no charge the two dye tests, as we do not wish to return to this customer's home.
We invite any BBB member or reader to call any licensed HVAC contractor and pose the following question. Do you have to insure that a system is charged to factory specs in order to perform a standard HVAC dye leak search? We are confident you find that our statements are 100% accurate.
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
Having dealt with Air Comfort from July 15-20, I am not surprised by the unprofessional and retaliatory tone of their response.
Bottom line is: Air Comfort charged me $89 plus $637 to repair 2 AC units. They only fixed one and it took 5 days and 9 calls to partially fix the problem. They found the units low on Freon, pumped 5 lbs (per their record) and 7 lbs (per notation on my receipt made by the technician) of Freon, knowing and acknowledging that there was a major leak in the system and that the Freon would leak out. Lastly, they put in the dye to test the leak. It was like putting a bandaid on a cut that needed stitches.
The other company came and fixed the problem in 1 day with 1 phone call - they first performed an electronic leak detection, found the leak, fixed the leak, cleaned the units and THEN put in Freon. I have called 2 other companies which confirmed that this was the correct way to deal with a major leak, not just pump in a quick and expensive fix like Freon.
Now I will respond to their specific points:
Their claim that we were asked to switch off the units when we called for an appointment is FALSE. We were not asked to turn off the units when we called on July 15 to make the appointment. At that time, Air Comfort had not been to our house yet and did not know that both units were frozen. So their claim is false. On July 15, when the technician came to our house, he looked at the units and THEN told us they were frozen. He switched off the upstairs unit before he left and asked us to keep it off throughout the night, as it would take longer to thaw. The technician told us that since the downstairs unit was outside, it would not take as long to thaw. So he switched off the downstairs unit while he was here and asked us to turn it on again at 7 pm so we could sleep in more comfort that a 92 degree house and switch it off 3 hours before he came the next morning. The downstairs unit was switched off at 6 am on July 16.
The reason they claim above for not coming out to fix the upstaters AC on Saturday is FALSE. On July 18, we called 5 times and reached their call center. We told them the upstaters unit was dead - no air at all. We were told that they would only respond if we had purchased a maintenance agreement from Air Comfort. Otherwise wait it out through Saturday and Sunday. A technician did call us finally on Saturday night and said it would cost a lot of money for him to come out and advised us to wait till Monday. He said he usually was in the office around 8 am and would make sure they sent him or someone else to fix it.
Their claim that the owner called on Monday is correct, but only after I called them twice on Monday morning and threatened to lodge a complaint with BBB.
Again, bottom line:
Air Comfort charged me for something they only partially fixed.
They did not make right their own mistake in a timely fashion because I was not on the "maintenance program."
They followed a procedure that is not recommended as an industry standard for a "major" leak in the units - you find the leak, you fix it, and then put in Freon, not the other way around.
They put on their records that 5 lbs of Freon was used. The technician put on my record that 7 lbs was used. That itself is an unethical business practice.
Since they fixed half the problem, I feel the right thing for them to do is refund at least half the cost, even though the upstairs unit was pumped with 4 lbs of Freon.
Please see attached 2 pictures taken by another company that proved wrong the technician's claim that the units were cleaned. The upstairs unit was still sealed when they came out on Monday.
Final Business Response
Again, if the reader will take the time to read this complaint closely, it is obvious this customer simply does not understand HVAC...to be honest we do not expect her to understand. But it is important for the reader to understand as well as possible.
After explaining the pros and cons of the three types of leak searches the customer and technician agreed to do a "Dye Test." Neither the customer nor any technician will dispute that a system must be charged to factory specs in order to perform this test. We will be more than happy to supply HVAC manuals to prove this point. Furthermore, we added seven lbs. of Freon and only charged her for five lbs. This is another fact she does not dispute.
Another fact she does not dispute is that we gave her both leak searches at no charge. We did these things prior to any complaints simply because she asked for our financial assistance. As a family owned business we try to help when we can.
We strongly feel that she is trying to get something for nothing. We also feel that with the warm temperatures she decided not to wait for the dye test results. She decided that she wanted cold air and wanted it right away. But we could not undue the dye test...the dye was added and we had a Monday appointment to go out to her home and look for the leak. Unfortunately there are customers that will call one company and then call another and just pay the one that gets the system fixed first. In this case, there were several different acceptable approaches to correct the problem. Either way...she is the one that cancelled the Monday appointment.
The bottom line is that we added the Freon and added the dye and gave her serious discounts for both and now she wants more discounts and doesn't' want to pay for the dye test. Why? Simply because she did not want to wait...NOT BECAUSE WE DID SOMETHING WRONG. You must wait 24-48 before looking for traces of dye which will highlight the leak(s).
If she continues to slander our company we will not hesitate to take legal action. Our agreement was to not charge her for the dye test if we completed repairs. We were scheduled to complete those repairs Monday, but she did not want to wait and cancelled our Monday appointment. This is another fact she does not dispute.
If you examine at our BBB record you will see that we get very few complaints. We go out of our way to help our customers...Including this customer. It is unreal how some people can be. We are so thankful that 99.9% of our customers are good honest people. This customer simply is not! Not only does she not want to pay for the dye test, but she wants us to refund her for the Freon that kept her cool Thursday and Friday. Tell me what you think...email me at xxxxx.
If a preponderance of readers truly feel we have done wrong we will acquiesce. If she is going to go to these lengths...she must need the money more than our company or employees. We just don't understand. We have always tried to give to the community. If she needs our financial assistance, all she needs to do is retract her complaint and call me. We just don't like to feel used and manipulated.
Boston Environmental States, "the most precise method for locating a Freon leak is for the technician to install a liquid tracer (DYE) into the system. Go to the link provided below.
Or Read this article http:xxxxx
"There are leaks that can occur in evaporator and condensing coils that just will not trigger on some leak detectors. Either that or they just take too long to find. One option that will save you time, and will 100% pinpoint your leak (unless line set is underground) is the dye leak detection test."
This customer is either lying or misinformed. We follow standard practices for our industry. PERIOD. We can produce as many HVAC articles as she wants to prove our point.
Final Consumer Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
I continue to be amazed at the erroneous claim of Air Comfort that I'm trying to get something for nothing, when they charged me to fix TWO AC units and only fixed one.
The only reason I canceled the appointment on Monday was that I refused to be played by this company for a 5th day. Additionally, the tone of the owner who called on Monday was unprofessional, when he said they would come back and not charge for additional Freon "if I did the work with them." As the owner of the company, he should have apologized and asked to make things right, not try to lock me into new business.
I am relieved that I went with another company that is reputable, professional, and not surprisingly, a bigger presence in xxxxx than Air Comfort. Air Comfort can throw around all the articles they want - anyone who is not stupid will know the value of getting a HVAC problem fixed in ONE day versus FIVE days.
I am glad that future customers of Air Comfort will be able to reference BBB, xxxxx reviews, and other customer feedback platforms to avoid the mistake I made in hiring Air Comfort.
When it comes to customer service, the power of word-of-mouth is very strong in the xxxxx market.
Air Comfort's refusal to make right on their product/service and refund $300+ will ultimately cost them much more.
I don't want to deal with this company anymore. Thank you, BBB, for your mediation.