It's a little off topic to the main thrust of this thread. But calling only "OEM approved" companies will cause you to miss some quality contractors. Some if not most of the OEM's will list contractors based on the volume they do, not the quality of their work.
Originally posted by casual observer
We only called companies who were on the manufacturer's web site.
I happen to be a dealer of X (Don't ask.). I know for a fact that none of the big time X dealers around here can hold a candle to the work I do. The X wholesaler's tech support will tell you as much. But am I listed? Pfft. I haven't sold my soul to the consolidator business model so I don't qualify.
I think that from the consumer standpoint, specially in this industry, it is awfully hard to find adequate and competente information that would enable one to choose a contractor, even though, according to every pro in this forum, the quality of installation is crucial.
In my personal experience I made a big mistake, but corrected it ontime. When I came to the realization that I needed a new system, the easiest thing to do was to call a big department store. The guy was helpful and seemed to know what he was doing, but he was only selling equipment. Then I found out that that store contracts out the installation to other people, and I backed out. I decided to become more informed and started reading. One person in this forum recommended someone in my area. I called them and left two messages with the secretary. I then went there in person. Still no call. Several days later they called me. Just like the OP I thought "if this guy has a potential customer in me and does not call me, what will it be if a I ever need warranty service right away?" Of course I did not go with that guy.
I ended up going with a contractor that a friend of mine recommended. They were honest with me, did not promise anything they could not deliver, and gave me a fair bid (not the lowest). However, this is not easy, and I am not out of the woodse yet, as they will finish the installation tomorrow (today for some of you).
To sum up, HVAC is better left to the pros (note to all those DIYs!). But since Joe Average only changes his hvac system maybe twice in his lifetime, there should be more information that would enable consumers to distinguish between a hack and a pro.