Record-breaking temperatures are hitting Phoenix this week and could be causing air conditioners to fail, putting homeowners and renters alike at risk for air conditioning repair scams.
According to the attorney general, people going door to door and unreasonable prices are some of the warning signs of a scam.
"Air conditioning is not a luxury, it's an absolute necessity," said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. "So we want to make sure folks talk to reputable businesses."
Follow these tips from the Attorney General to avoid A/C repair scams.
1. Troubleshoot first: Take some time before calling for service to check a few basic things. Is the electrical breaker tripped? Is your thermostat operating? Are the filters on your unit dirty or blocked and need to be cleaned? If it’s minor, you might be able to fix it yourself.
2. Check warranty coverage: Your air conditioner might still be under the manufacturer's warranty. Be sure to check your owner's manual or warranty to avoid unnecessarily paying for repairs that might be covered.
3. Do your research: Research contractors with the Better Business Bureau to see if they have a Business Review on file at bbb.org.
4. Verify license: Locally, search the Arizona Registrar of Contractors to find the status of a company’s license and the history of complaints filed against them.
5. Online reviews: Look up third-party review sites over the company’s own webpage. Give more weight to a company with hundreds of good reviews over a multi-year period.
6. Obtain multiple bids for extensive repairs: Try to solicit at least two or three bids on large projects. Find out the proper size unit to cool your home and the energy efficiency of a new unit.
7. Get it in writing: Prior to any sale, obtain a written contract of the equipment and services the company is selling and review thoroughly before signing. Don’t sign anything that you don’t agree to.
8. Consider payment: When buying a unit, avoid paying the entire amount before the unit is installed. It’s common to pay a third to secure the contract, another third when the work is half done and the final third only when the work is completed. Under the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, for a contract of more than $5,000, the contractor legally cannot accept a deposit in excess of one-third of the contract price, or one-third of the contract price plus the cost of special order materials.
9. Know your rights: Be wary if a contractor uses a sense of urgency in their selling methods. Some dishonest contractors may use high-pressure tactics to recommend repairs and replacements that are not actually needed.
For more consumer protection tips, visit the Arizona Attorney General’s Office website at www.azag.gov.