Failure to contact or notify owner of service dates and repair issues and allowing tenant to decline repair vs. contract/property owner.
I purchased a service contract in June 2014 for my tenant occupied property at 3803 Rose Ct, Mckinney, Texas which was to provide two AC/Heating inspections within a year for $99. I told the co that I am the property owner and all requests for service and repair must be authorized by me and they agreed. They asked if they could contact the tenant to schedule an appointment and I said yes. They inspected my AC in June and identified and repaired some things for around $400. They emailed and mailed me a copy of the receipt as requested to my home in Arlington Texas. I recenty realized that I had one remaining inspection and called them today to schedule it. I was advised that the 2nd inspection was done on Jan 6, 2015. I told them I had no knowledge of that and hadnt requested it or received any receipt or notification. I asked what were the results. She emailed me a copy and began to tell me what items were needed and what the technician noted: A new drain pan, $314, a new ignitor $304, a 10 mfd $153 and several recommendations including a system seal for $676, an overflow upgrade $137, a wifi thermostat $368, a madein the usa alarm $69 and additionally, the technician commented that the blower cap was out of factory specs and the ignitor was out of specs and could result in immediate failure and the drain pan is rusted and compromised and could cause water damage in the home at any time. Finally, the system is not functioning properly. the lady I spoke with after reading all of this said that although **** (the assigned technician) was no longer with the co, she could sell me a new contract for $56 for one visit and have all this checked out. I asked how long **** was with the company and she said oh, 4 or 5 years, he was a good technician. I asked her why I wasnt notified of the service date that was scheduled without my permission or the results of the service if I had equipment that was on the verge of causing damage to my property. She didnt know why because it was noted to mail a receipt to homeowner and I an noted as that on the invoice. I asked why the tenant was allowed to refuse the repairs and sign their invoice as Authorized signature and she said she didnt know unless **** thought the tenant was the homeowner. This is hard to believe when it is clearly noted that the owner is a female and the tenant was male. I asked why I wasnt mailed a copy of the invoice and how if the ignitor were not working, how the tenant had gone through the coldest February on record without heat and her response was, well, it wasn't not operable. I said well, it says on the invoice that replacement is required so why would it need to be replaced. I then asked why I would purchase another contract from them when they didnt fulfill the terms of the first one and at that point, she said, now wait a minute, you need to blame your tenant. I said, no I don't, they are not responsible and I didnt have a contract with them, I had the contract with your company. She began a statement to the effect of, now wait a minute, see here, and she raised her voice and was angry. I cut her off mid statement because it was clear, she didnt have any answers for all of these misrepresentations and lack of follow up. Before hanging up, I advised her I would file a complaint with the BBB.
I believe that the service package fee should be refunded as they did not follow through with the service that they promised and allowed a tenant to schedule service and to refuse repairs. I further believe that once I have another company inspect the system and determine if these are invalid issues, that they should be penalized for inflating repair estimates and if they are valid issues, they should reimburse me for any repairs that were delayed because they did not notify me of the impending damage to my property.
Contact Name and Title: ***** ***** - Service Mgr
Contact Phone: XXX-XXX-XXXX
Contact Email: ******@burnsideac.com
On April 28th, 2015, Ms. ***** contacted our office to arrange for a cooling inspection for her rent house on 3803 Rose Court. Ms. ***** believed that she was due a prepaid inspection for the property, since she purchased our Gold Star semi-annual service on 4/23/14, which includes two inspections. Our Gold Star program clearly defines that the two inspections were for one cooling inspection and one heating inspection. We schedule the appointments approximately six months apart, so they're in the appropriate seasons. The first of her two inspections was a cooling inspection, performed on 6/23/14. The second inspection was a heating inspection, which was performed on 1/6/15. Both inspections have been fulfilled per our Gold Star service agreement. I get the impression from the written BBB complaint that Ms. ***** was expecting to get two cooling inspections for her Gold Star purchase. Our Gold Star semi-annual service has and will always include one cooling inspection and one heating inspection.
One other detail in the complaint that doesn't add up is that Ms. ***** refers to spending around $400.00 with us in June. I believe she is mistaken because our records show that she spent $225.00 with us on 4/23/14. That was $99.00 for the Gold Star purchase (over the phone) and $126.00 with the technician to clear a blocked drain. It is my belief that Ms. ***** hired someone else to complete work in June, based on the recommendations we made during our cooling inspection on 6/23/14. What leads me to this belief is that our 6/23/14 inspection indicates that there is no overflow protection device (float switch) installed on the unit and our subsequent inspection on 1/6/15 indicates that there is a float switch installed which is not the AquaGuard brand dual sensor overflow device that we sell.
It is apparent that the main issue here is that there was a breakdown in communications somewhere. While it is customary for us to schedule an appointment with a tenant on a prepaid inspection, we do reach out to the homeowner also to keep them aware of the appointment. I cannot prove or disprove whether or not the homeowner was contacted but normal protocol is to contact the homeowner and the tenant. The main reason why the tenant is contacted directly to schedule an appointment is because the tenant is typically the one that has to make themselves available so we can gain access to the property. According to our records, this is the only time in three completed appointments that we either failed to contact the homeowner or were unable to contact the homeowner. Since our dispatcher spoke with Ms. ***** on 4/28/15, notes have been added to our system to make certain that Ms. ***** is contacted prior to scheduling or completing any appointment, regardless of whether it's a prepaid inspection service or a demand paid service.
The next item of contention is the recommendations that were made on the work order which we identified during the heating inspection on 1/6/15. It is important to note that the heating was functioning when we arrived and was functioning when we left. Additionally, the heating apparently functioned for the remainder of the heating season because no tenant is going to ride out the coldest month in recorded history in Dallas with no heat without contacting their landlord or a service company. The recommendations were made based on our testing and general observations. We noted that a blower run capacitor tested outside of its prescribed tolerance and should be replaced. The capacitor was still partly functional but compromised. We noted also that the furnace's hot surface ignitor tested in a range that would indicate that it is likely to fail in the near future. We noted also that the A/C emergency drain pan is rusted badly and should be replaced. Even though the emergency pan is effectively a cooling component, it is in the vicinity of the furnace and we note them even during a heating inspection to make certain that attention has been brought to the potential for water damage. The same recommendation was made on the cooling inspection that we performed on 6/23/15 and Ms. ***** took no action to replace the compromised drain pan. These three recommendations were the ones that the technician deemed to be important and were detailed in the "Required Repairs" section of our work order. Keep in mind that the heating was still functional but there was a likelihood of a breakdown in the not too distant future.
The remaining recommendations are just that.....recommendations. They are items that are not critical to the system operation and are not required. They are simply items that may offer peace of mind, convenience or energy efficiency improvement to a homeowner. These items are detailed in a special section of the work order called "Comfort Concerns/Tech Recommendations". The items recommended were 1. AquaGuard dual sensor overflow device upgrade, which offers additional protection against water leakage from the attic equipment. 2. Complete System seal which would air seal all accessible duct connections in the attic to improve system performance and efficiency. 3. Upgrading the thermostat to a Wi-Fi version because many people like to be able to control their thermostat settings from their smartphone or tablet. 4. Adding a Carbon Monoxide Alarm in the house to provide basic protection against Carbon Monoxide exposure, which can come from many sources such as appliances, fireplaces or attached garages. None of these items are required to be completed and the system will run no better or worse than it ever has if these recommendations aren't performed. Our work orders are design to split the more critical recommendations from the more upgrade type recommendations because we want to be crystal clear and have no ambiguity. It is important to note that the tenant "Declined" every one of the recommendations that were documented on our work order because he does not own the property and did not have the authority to "Approve" the recommendations. Again, this is normal protocol.
The service technician did note on the work order that our office needed to "Mail Copy to the Homeowner", since it was a tenant/landlord situation. I can only assume that the work order was mailed, because we do not send these by certified mail. It is crystal clear to me now that our communications can be improved when it comes to cases like this. In the future, such correspondence will be sent using certified mail. Additionally, we may potentially utilize email to send such documentation, so we can get an "email received" receipt. Rest assured that this is an isolated case. We have dealt with many landlords and property management companies for many years and to the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that we've had such a breakdown in communication. All I can offer is my apology to Ms. ***** that she was not contacted about the heating inspection appointment and apparently did not receive the copy of the work order in the mail. There was no money due for the prepaid heating inspection on 1/6/15 and no unauthorized work was performed beyond the prepaid heating inspection.
As for the desired resolution that Ms. ***** detailed, a refund of the Gold Star service program is not due because we fulfilled all obligations and performed both the heating and the cooling inspection as outlined in our Gold Star program. Furthermore, our Gold Star agreement clearly states that it is non-refundable. We will continue to have any adult who is present on the worksite initial the "Accept" and "Decline" boxes, as well as sign the work order. If the adult present is not the property owner or an authorized representative thereof, they will be asked to decline all recommendations. If a landlord is contacted and authorizes any recommendations, a tenant will be asked to initial the "Accept" box(es) on their behalf. Otherwise, the landlord will need to come to the property and initial the "Accept" boxes themselves, because we will not commence any work without expressed written consent. I have no doubt that upon inspection by another contractor, the "Required Repairs" will be confirmed to be true and I strongly recommend that they be addressed by someone. Since the delay in completing these recommendations did not lead to any property damage or even any system downtime, I don't believe that it is reasonable to think that ******** A/C should responsible for paying for the repairs, regardless of whether they are in the "Required Repairs" section or the "Comfort Concerns/Tech Recommendations" section of our work order. ******** A/C will be taking measures to ensure that any line of communication should have some redundancy and we need to utilize services that provide us proof that we made every reasonable effort to communicate with any homeowner. These improvements will be implemented immediately.
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
Mr. ******* response if full of errors and fabrications. I have attached the receipt from their initial service call on 4/23/14 which was not an AC inspection. The reason for the call as noted on the invoice was that there was water leaking through the ceiling from the drain pan. I purchased the Gold Star package during that call because of the 10& discount offered with it on the repairs that day. There is nothing noted on the invoice in regard to recommendations or repairs like Mr. Weiss has suggested regarding the need for a float. They only noted that there was a blocked drain and broken drain line. No one has done any work since they were there on April 23, 2014 because according to their inspection, all was well and working. As for the confusion on the amount spent, I can tell you why I approximated $400. ******** charged me twice for the Gold Star service package on my credit card which would make the total charges $326- thus the approximation. They refunded the $99 error as seen on the included credit receipt. Because this is a tenant occupied property, I recently realized that I had not had the 2nd inspection and called them to find out that the 2nd one had been scheduled with the tenant not me, the property owner which is clearly indicated on their receipt. They provided nothing to me at purchase in writing about the Gold Star package, only the receipt for charging me so he needs to prove that it's one heating and one AC inspection. Furthermore, their system was already noted in 2014 to contact me not the tenant regarding scheduling and repairs because I made it clear when I ordered it and it was noted on their invoice without having talked to me to schedule the January inspection so that proves they were aware to contact me and mail me a copy. No, I'm sure they don't send it certified but I had no trouble receiving the prior invoice so why is there a problem with me receiving this one? The dispatcher said she didnt know why I wasnt mailed a copy. If I had received a copy, why would I call in April to schedule a 2nd inspection? It's very clear that their now non employed technician **** was trying to rack up charges on a home that is occupied by a tenant and the owner is in another city. Mr. ***** mentions a worn out capacitor which is strange because it was just replaced in summer of 2012, the drain pan was replaced in 2010 and couldnt be rusted out. If it were rusted out last April, why didnt they make that recommendation at that time? In fact, the entire system was installed new in 2007 so it appears that Mr. ***** is trying to cover the fact that he hires people that lie or he condones or covers for them after the fact. I use a large, local Remax realty office to manage this property and you can rest assured, they will advise their clients to never call ********. I expect them to produce proof of the terms of their Gold Star package and still expect reimbursement of the cost of it due to lack of fulfillment. I am the owner and should have been contacted to schedule, accept or acknowledge any and all inspections and or service. They didnt seem to have a problem in 2014 with getting me to authorize repairs by phone but now, when scheduling the 2nd appointment, they did. An apology at this point is not acceptable.
Final Business Response
I'm not sure where ReMax comes into play in this. We never dealt with ReMax. Ms. ***** contacted us directly and we only dealt with Ms. ***** and/or her tenant. Apparently, Ms. ***** does not have the paperwork from the June 23rd, 2014 appointment, where we completed her Gold Star Inspection one of two for cooling. The invoice that she has attached to her correspondence is from an appointment on April 23rd, 2014, where all we did was clear a blocked drain. Ms. ***** actually purchased the Gold Star Inspection Service from us, over the phone on April 23rd 2014, when the appointment was made for the water leak through the ceiling. It is apparent to me that Ms. ***** was aware of both the April and the June appointments because she references the June Gold Star appointment in her initial complaint and even acknowledges that she had given us permission to reach out to the tenant directly to schedule the appointment. Ms. ***** clearly states that she "realized she hadn't had her 2nd inspection" performed and that's why she called us. Ms. ***** did not attach the paperwork from the first inspection on June 23rd 2014 when we performed the cooling inspection, which was one of two of her Gold Star inspections. That paperwork is where the inspection recommendations were made the first time, not on the initial appointment on April 23rd 2014. The April 23rd 2014 appointment only dealt with the immediate concern of water coming through the ceiling.
Ms. ***** states that she did not receive anything in writing about the Gold Star package after purchasing it in April that spelled out any details of our program. As with any tenant/landlord situation, we always take great care to mail copies to the property owner as well as leave a copy behind on the property. I find it very peculiar that the only copy of anything that Ms. ***** received is the very first invoice form April 23rd 2014. That means that the Gold Star paperwork was not delivered with the invoice from April 23rd 2014, the June 23rd 2014 paperwork was not delivered for the 1 of 2 Gold Star cooling inspection and the January 6th 2015 paperwork for the 2 of 2 Gold Star heating inspection was not delivered. I dare say that this scenario is virtually impossible. Again, I cannot prove or disprove the delivery of the documents no more than Ms. ***** can prove or disprove the receipt of them. It's just odd that the June appointment is acknowledged in Ms. *****'s complaint as well as there is a statement that "some things were repaired for around $400" in June, when our work order shows only recommendations and no work performed aside from the prepaid inspection. As you can see in her attached copy of the invoice from April 23rd 2014, there is one single thing that was repaired which was a "blocked and broken drain line", not multiple "things" as Ms. ***** indicates. Therein lies my confusion. These are the circumstances that led me to believe that additional work may have been performed by others. I'm not trying to fabricate anything, I'm only trying to analyze the stated facts as they've been presented to me.
I have attached the Gold Star agreement and missing invoices for review. I'm not sure where all of the accusations of deceit or "trying to rack up charges" stems from. I have two work orders from two different technicians on two separate appointments that document the exact same issues with the emergency drain pan and the blower capacitor, which Ms. ***** seems to take exception to. There was obviously a water leak with the system, since that is what initiated the original appointment on April 23rd, 2014, so it is indeed possible for the pan to need replacement even though it was replaced in 2010 (by others). If was, after all, replaced in 2010 (by others), a mere three years after the entire system was replaced in 2007, it would stand to reason that five years later it needs to be replaced again. This is why we recommend adding an AquaGuard overflow prevention device. It would shut the system off, rather than let it overflow into the emergency pan and potentially the ceiling. We don't recommend such a device to "rack up charges" we do it to provide protection to the property and so that an emergency drain pan doesn't have to be replaced every few years. The simple fact of the matter is that the emergency drain pan is rusted and compromised and needs to be replaced. Otherwise, further water damage to the ceiling is likely to occur.
The furnace's blower capacitor is rated at 10 microfarads and there is a +/-10% allowable tolerance from that rating on all capacitors. Some capacitor manufacturers prescribe a stricter tolerance of +/-6% of the rating on the capacitor. That is very simple to prove, because the rating and the tolerance is most always printed right on the capacitor itself. On June 23rd 2014, the 10 microfarad blower capacitor tested at 7.9 microfarads and on January 6th 2015, it tested at 7.8 microfarads. At 22% off the prescribed rating, it is a simple fact that the capacitor is bad and needs to be replaced, regardless of when it was installed. Incidentally, most every system has three capacitors in it. There is one capacitor for the indoor blower motor, one for the outdoor fan motor and one for the compressor. Ms. ***** may be mistaken on which capacitor was replaced in the summer of 2012 (by others) or it is even possible for a three year old capacitor to test that far out of specifications.
I want to make one thing absolutely clear. I don't have to defend anything that any of my technicians do in the field because I have 100% confidence that they do the right thing. There are definitive tests that we run and extensive training on proper identification of potential problems that we all conform to at ******** and the proof is in the paperwork. There is nothing to "cover up" as Ms. ***** states in her rebuttal. Our organization is 100% transparent and we only employ the very best technicians and the best practices in the industry. We had previously been given permission to contact the tenant directly to schedule an appointment and it was a prepaid inspection service. There was no billable service performed, therefore no money required and no unauthorized recommendations were performed. Our obligations have been fulfilled and the requested full refund is unreasonable. While we may have failed to deliver the documentation for the January 6th 2015 appointment, which cannot be proved or disproved, we do have a reasonable expectation that the fail-safe in such an event would be an open line of communications between a tenant and their landlord. Any tenant has a certain responsibility to make their landlord aware that service was performed on the property. That is why we leave a copy of our work orders behind on the premises as well as mail copies to the property owners and/or property management companies. My apology stands and I mean it sincerely. I take this complaint very seriously and I have already implemented measures that ensure accurate and timely communications when any of our services are performed on a rental property and involve a third party. We deal with many rental properties and this is an isolated incident but there is always room for improvement, which has been done.
Final Consumer Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
Mr. ***** doesnt seem to understand simple written English. Remax wasnt involved in the repairs. Remax is the realty office that manages this property for me but they do not handle maintenance and repairs, I do. My comment was that due to ********'s lack of service, lies and continued denial of the fact that they had a contract with me and didnt honor it by contacting my tenant and failing to mail me receipts and failing to contact me to schedule service appointments, they are now on the black list for the Remax office that I work with which has a huge client base in Plano, McKinney and Frisco. I have made it very clear to them not to refer any of their real estate clients to this obviously unfair company called ********. Mr. Weiss has repeatedly dodged the issue and that is they failed to honor the contract with me, the purchaser. And, in the copy of the package that he provided, he failed to copy the back of the page that shows terms and conditions. So sneaky and low down. I guess he forgot that too. I guess they also forgot to have the tenant initial the Refused boxes on this receipt from June that they obviously didnt mail me the June either. Why would I knowingly call them to schedule an inspection if I knew that inspections had taken place? I still expect a refund of the non service package.