The Better Business Bureau has a warning for consumers thinking about getting their furnaces and ducts serviced as winter is fast approaching — do your research thoroughly before you book.
Shawna-Kay Thomas with the BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay told Global News scams with furnace and duct servicing is an ongoing problem every year.
“Last year we had about 100 complaints that we had to resolve,” Thomas said.TWEET THIS
Thomas said the complaints revealed issues with billing, collections, warranties and satisfaction with repairs.
Global News also asked Thomas about the growing number of ads popping up on social media sites from companies or individuals offering discounted services.
Many of these posted ads did not provide a company name or any other pertinent information up front.
“That’s a huge red flag if a company is not willing to give you their name, their license info, a contact number, a contact person before a truck shows up,” she said.TWEET THIS
She advised not to click on any ad, give out any personal information or pay for any service until you contact the HVAC company directly.
HVAC companies warn about fly-by-night organizations
Calgary-based Alberta Home Services also issued a warning about fly-by-night companies.
In 2019, Global News helped uncover another company allegedly going to people’s homes and impersonating Alberta Home Services‘ technicians. Customers would then call them to complain.
“We didn’t have any records of them in our system,” Calgary branch manager Sam Elias said.
It now has a warning on its website advising potential consumers of imposters.
“They certainly cause concern because they may not be qualified enough, they’re not certified or insured properly,” Elias added.
Elias said these types of companies also hit the reputation and revenue of legitimate operators hard.
“I would say hundreds of thousands of dollars.”TWEET THIS
Alberta Indoor Comfort, which previously operated as Sears, said it too has been questioned about its identity when calling clients for repeat service.
“They stop and go, ‘Oh I don’t know, we’ve been called about eight times this week. Are you really who you say you are?’” owner Carla Berezowski said.
Berezowski doesn’t blame customers for being skeptical, also pointing to the many unlicensed companies and individuals currently in the marketplace.
“You could go find a guy that says, ‘We’ll come in and clean your furnace,’” she said. “And that’s probably what he does — he probably takes a vacuum to the blower and maybe wipes up some of the dust and calls it a day.”
Berezowski said proper maintenance usually will take a couple of hours.
“If you don’t know what you’re doing and you don’t put it back together the way it should be put back together — that could be a problem.”TWEET THIS
Another problem Berezowski said some customers have faced have been higher-than-expected bills. The fly-by-night services get into the home promising a discounted service but then they point out everything else that needs to be done.
“Then they just have incremental fees on top of that.”