When the heat index reaches the 100s, the last thing anyone wants is for the air conditioning to stop working – least of all when the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has many consumers spending most of their time at home. But when the air conditioning does fail, you need a reliable contractor – and fast.
“Good air conditioning contractors are in high demand during the summer months, so you shouldn’t be surprised if you can’t get it fixed immediately,” said Stephanie Garland, Better Business Bureau (BBB) Springfield Regional Director. “You need to keep your cool and research companies before you sign a contract for repairs or replacement.”
BBB is a great resource for finding trustworthy contractors. Consumers can find dozens of BBB Business Profiles on HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) contractors at bbb.org. They also can browse BBB’s Accredited Business Directory for air conditioning businesses that have pledged to uphold BBB’s Standards for Trust.
BBB Business Profiles include a rating from A+ to F and show whether a company has complaints and how the company responded to the complaints. Many contractors also have customer reviews that show how they’ve delivered service to customers.
Nationally, BBB processed more than 3,300 complaints about heating and air conditioning businesses last year. Common complaints included failure to perform work as contracted or issue a refund and delays in completing projects in a timely manner.
A Wildwood, Missouri, woman told BBB in April 2021 that a local HVAC contractor who gave her an estimate for a new air conditioning unit and a new furnace humidifier became unresponsive after she paid for parts up front. She said he did not respond to schedule installation for several weeks after she made the payment via Venmo, did not show up on the agreed-upon installation date or a rescheduled date a few weeks later, and eventually stopped returning her phone calls and emails after that. He did not respond to her request for a refund.
BBB recommends that consumers consider the following when looking for an air conditioning contractor:
• Research the company’s background and licensing. Visit bbb.org for a BBB Business Profile and BBB Customer Reviews on any service company you plan to hire. Learn more about its reputation and any history of complaints. Always confirm that the company is licensed and insured.
• Compare prices and service packages. Get at least three estimates for any air conditioning repair, maintenance or replacement. All bids should be in writing and should provide a full description of the services to be provided and the materials to be used.
• Review warranty coverage. Find out if the company offers any type of warranty or guarantee. Make certain you understand the terms and conditions of the coverage. Also, be sure to check the warranty on your current air conditioning unit to determine whether any repairs or replacements may be covered.
• Ask about energy efficiency. Many new air conditioning units are manufactured to be more energy-efficient than others. Look for the ENERGY STAR label to find out more about products that may cost a little more up front, but save you in energy costs over time. Some models may even be eligible for a tax credit. Ask your HVAC contractor to verify tax credit eligibility and provide the Manufacturer Certification Statement for the equipment you plan to purchase.