Price gouging and not providing itemized billing.
I called this HVAC company to repair my AC, and they came to do the repair on July 1, 2013. I was told over the phone there would be no trip charge if they did the work, so I scheduled them. Since they had to schedule so far out, I had time to research the problem with my AC myself. I narrowed it down to what I thought was the issue - a blown capacitor. I also researched what they cost to replace since I was already wary of price gouging by HVAC businesses during times of high heat. The part itself is $26 - $36. It's also a fairly simple repair if that's the issue, taking appx. 10 minutes to change it out. I couldn't find anyone who sells the part, and I wasn't 100% sure it was the problem since I am not HVAC certified, so I waited for the repar company to tell me what the issue really was. When the company came to do the repair, they said it would be $380 to replace the very part I had done research on. I asked the repair tech what the $380 includes, since the price of the part is only $26 - $36, and a 6th grader could replace it in 10 minutes or less. He said, "I don't know, that's just what they tell me it's going to cost." I didn't feel like waiting another 2 weeks for a company to come out and fix it, so I told the tech to go ahead with the repair. Next, I called the manager of the shop, ****, to ask what's included in the price of the repair since the bill wasn't itemized. He hemmed and hawed about gas prices (mind you, this is less than a mile from my home), the tech's education and expertise, the service charge (which is still unknown since they don't itemize their bills), etc. I added up $5 in gas (again, the office is less than a mile from my home), $36 for the part with a fair 30% markup, and $120 for a service call which seems standard from the research I've done, and the most I can come up with as a fair price is $180 at the very most. This is what a company with scruples would charge, and that's even a little high. But my charge was $380 - $200 more than what would be considered remotely fair. I paid for the repair because to get an HVAC repair team to your house when it's 90 degrees or more outside takes at least two weeks when everyone in the house works. I understand businesses have a right to a reasonable profit, but this is nothing less than price gouging and is deceitful as well, because according to the bill, the hourly rate would be $344 - parts $36 subtracted from labor (tech was there less than an hour). When I asked the manager why he was charging so much over the cost to replace the $36 part, his response was "Well if you could fix it yourself, why did you call us?" Not the type of response companies with good customer service provide. And when I asked why my bill wasn't itemized so that I could know exactly what I was paying for, his response was, "That's the way we do things here."
I would like an apology from the manager, ****, for the way I was treated. I would also like an itemized bill showing exactly what my $380 paid for. I would also like to see what they charge hourly. Since I was told they don't charge for coming out as long as they do the repair, I'm left to conclude the $380 is for parts and labor - one of which is being grossly overcharged for.
The thing is, he probably doesn't run into too many educated consumers who question what he charges and why. The fact they don't provide an itemized bill tells me all I need to know regarding the intentions of this company. So, I'm hoping you can help me out.
Business' Initial Response
Mr. ********** did call and schedule a service call for July 1 at 8am. The complaint was that he was hearing a buzz when the unit tried to come on but it would never come on. He was quoted an $89 trip/diagnostic charge that is waived when a repair is made.
The dispatcher called Mr. ********** at 7:45 to let him know the technician was on the way and was about 20 minutes out. He responded angrily that he was our first call and there was no reason we should be late and that we were going to make him late for work. The dispatcher tried to apologize for the delay.
The technician arrived at 8:04 (according to MapQuest, our shop was closer to 11 miles away than the 1 mile Mr. ********** is suggesting) and met Mrs. **********. When we arrived the technician found the condensing unit completely dismantled - we have a picture to show the condition of the unit when we arrived. ****** diagnosed the problem as a bad dual run capacitor and quoted Mrs. ********** the $380 repair cost (our part cost us more than the $26 to $36 that Mr. ********** is suggesting). She called her husband and had ****** speak to him on the phone. Mr. ********** angrily and sarcastically expressed that he thought the price was way too high but if ****** had the part with him to go ahead with the repair because he had been unable to purchase the part himself because he was not a licensed HVAC person. After giving the approval for the repair, Mr. ********** called our office to again express his concerns about the cost of the repair. He spoke to ****. After much back and forth with **** trying to explain the costs associated with the repair and Mr. ********** arguing and saying "any monkey could do this repair", **** gave Mr. ********** the names of 2 companies that would sell the part to Mr. ********** as a non-licensed consumer and offered to pull ****** off the job at no cost to the customer so that he could do the repair himself. He declined that offer and said that he wanted us to do the repair but that he was very unhappy with us and was going to let everyone know that we were "rip-offs".
While **** was speaking with Mr. **********, ****** had Mrs. ********** sign the invoice to authorize the repair that Mr. ********** had approved over the phone, put the unit back together, installed the new part and cycled the unit to assure that it was now in good working order. Having to put the unit back together before he could install the new part took an additional 20 minutes of repair time.
We feel that we tried to do everything we could to remedy a bad situation but were unable to satisfy this customer. We stand behind our workmanship and professional work ethic.