About five years ago I met an extraordinary gentlemen who
started out as an HVAC service tech. He eventually got two
engineering degrees and ended up designing heating and
Electronic design is my profession so we had a lot in common
and became close friends. We both like building and repair-
ing things with our own two hands, despite the fact that we
sit in front of a computer monitor several hours a day.
About the same time I met this HVAC engineer my parents
started having all sorts of trouble with their gas furnance
and central AC. For 29 years they used the same company to
service and install all their major utilities. This small
outfit became rich and joined up with the giant Rheem
I asked my friend if he would teach me the basics of HVAC
servicing. I had already read several books on the subject.
He agreed to show me the ropes. In a very short time I
had the certifications I needed. I never planned to go
into the profession, but I very much wanted to help out
my parents with their problems, and I enjoy technical
challenges of any kind.
My parents saved all the documentation from the service
company. I was amazed that that they had receipts going
back 29 years! I also realized something very sad and
depressing. These guys had been ripping off my parents
and everyone else in their neighborhood for decades. The
stuff they had written down about adjusting this or that
sensor, valve, or switch was insane! They told my parents
a couple of summers ago that their central AC needed five
pounds of freon. They charged them sixty dollars for each
pound! The entire capacity of their 3 ton system is five
pounds. The local refrigerant supplier charged me $.00
for a thirty pound keg of R-22. To make matters worse, they
never once charged their AC properly. The evaporator
would always begin to ice up in the middle of the summer,
so my parents would have to call them back again to "top
off the system." The moment I started charging their
central air the system ran trouble free. They were told
for years that the evaporator must be leaking, even though
they never performed a single test.
My dad ended up in the hospital a couple of winters ago and
my mom was left alone in their big house. The gas furnace
started causing problems. The burners would light, and then
immediately go out. She called these jackals twice. The
problem got so serious my mom moved into my home until the
furnace problem was resolved. It was a very cold winter!
I collected up some of my test instruments and decided to
check out their York gas furnace. In ten minutes I found
the problem. The flame sensor was oxidized. I cleaned
it off with some fine steel wool. The furnace was fixed.
I decided to replace the flame sensor and the hot surface
ignitor just to make sure the same problem would not
reoccur. The parts cost me $0. My mom didn't want
to tell me how much she paid for two wasted service calls.
My mom and dad are not stupid. They live in a suburb full
of white collar professionals. These guys literally took
millions from my parents and the other 75,000 people who
are their friends and neighbors.
I used the astronomical term "black hole" in the subject
line of my post. I almost don't want to know if this
kind of incompetence or outright fraud is commonplace.
If it is, it must be costing the American people billions.
[Edited by lusker on 08-31-2005 at 08:10 PM]
This is the same with the automotive repair industry, etc. That is one reason some people come here with questions. Most are not looking for DIY repair solutions, but just want to understand the terms and dianostic answers they get from their service techs. I hate to use the term: "Trust no one", but it doesn't hurty to be careful.
[Edited by mcb56 on 08-31-2005 at 08:00 PM]
You should have wrote "HVAC Servicing can be a Black Hole" you are charging that all in the service industry is that way.
Not only were they dishonest they were stupid too.
No Heat No Cool You need Action Fast
If it were to cost me $0.00 to operate my business I could pass along spectacular savings to all my customers as well.
How many times must one get burned by incompetency before seeking the expertise of others?
I feel for your parents woes, but not everyone in this indusrty is as incompetent or uncaring as you would lead us to believe their service company was.
Not sure what the point of your thread is. Am I missing something? Or are you just venting? If so, I understand. We all go through it in our lifetimes.
They are fortunate to have you.
There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action....Mark Twain
Im sorry that you think every service company is dishonest as the one your parents used. Yes there are a few contractors out to get over on a customer but its the same with Auto shops you have companys like that in every type of business so remember not every contractor is out to get over on you but there are some its true so dont lump every company together as its the whole industry it seems for 29 years your parents liked the service they recieved or they would call another company no one forced them to use same company for so long
Did I miss something?I don't remember the Op lumping all companies ,as the same as his parents had.
The comment that the should have called another company,is interesting,and since they didn't ,it proves a point that I've often stated,"your friends and neighbors aren't qualified to recommend a good company".
You have to wonder how many times they recommended that company.
To the OP,how did they become part of Rheem??
I'm thinking that a guy who is obviously thinking he is very savvy to the ways of the world (HVAC) or otherwise, should have been savvy enough to ask the hard questions years ago when his parents were first starting to get gouged... Just a thought
Always tell the truth and you never have to remember what you! said!
loaddriver; just curious, in what amount of 'short time' did you have the 'certifications' you needed, and what were those certifications. Also, after you had the 'certifications' how much practical application of what you learned did you experience before tackling your parent's problems? One would assume from your post that the extent of your 'field experience' has been working on your parents system. Please correct me if I am wrong.
You won't find too many here that won't agree that there are far too many opportunists and "hacks" as they are often referred to, out there plying their 'trade' in our industry.
For every story like you described with your parents, there are just as many if not more, where someone in this industry has gone above and beyond the call to provide their customer service that far exceeded their expectations.
With two elderly parents living independently, I harbor a constant fear that they will fall prey to one of these unscrupulous individuals. And, I am not even talking about this industry!
Everyone has a purpose in life..........even if it's to be a bad example.
Seek first to understand, before seeking to be understood.
I find it hard to believe that with a customer base of 75,000 people being ripped off that another company with reputable and honest techs could not come into that market and take away their customers, while providing a valuable service. With a customer base of 75,000 I figure this company would have about 3,000 techs.
The obvious is obvious
Loaddriver, just curious, do you have a stocked service van with parts for many brands and models of equipment? Paying business insurance?, Filling up your well stocked service vehicle 3 times a week at 70 bucks a pop? Getting up at 2:00am for an emergency no heat call just because some homeowner forgot to change the batteries in their thermostat? Have all the tools required to perform many different tasks on equipment?
Just because you can purchase refrigerant at $x.xx per pound, doesn't automatically mean that charging $xx.xx per pound is ripping of customers. I mean when you purchased you recovery unit, gages, micron gauge, vacuum pump, nitrogen assy., brazing outfit, scales, etc....you must have figured you need to recoup that money somewhere right?....
Do you even have a recovery unit?
Did your parents ask this company to just charge the ac unit every year rather than spending more money trying to locate the leak?
There are always two sides to every story.
I have never found nor met a successful hack. The company you speak of seems to be very successful.
Who is the real hack here?
Please correct me if I am wrong.
[Edited by Makinice on 08-31-2005 at 09:50 PM]
Loaddriver? You still there? Where are yoooooooooo?!