Is it a planned scam?
One of the things an honest HVAC contractor hates most is to hear homeowner stories of scams or high-pressure sales.
“We have been given first hand reports of techs who have been instructed by their boss to ‘upsell’ clients when they get on the job. In fact, some contractors actually have upsell training sessions and must meet certain requirements. These technicians may be penalized if they don’t aggressively push services or products. Offering a client a solution, and then unnecessarily upselling them for the sake of a higher revenue, is bad customer service,” says Fred Ridler, president of ABEL Heating and Cooling.
What if you are tempted to choose a HVAC service company based on ‘deals’? Do they offer ‘free’ services and low-ball prices? Yes, you may save a few dollars initially, but what happens if your repaired or replaced system is compromised by dishonest upselling, or schemes?
Trusting the expert?
As consumers, no one can be expected to know the solutions to mechanical problems. Thus we turn to the experts. What can you do to be sure and find one? Do your due diligence by looking the company up on the BBB Better Business Bureau, and confirm that they rank A+. But don’t stop there. Take a moment to scroll down to the reason the BBB has given the business the A+ rating. A contractor could have as high as an A rating, and still have a list of prior customer complaints!
The below is copied from the BBB website:
Reason for Rating
BBB rating is based on 13 factors.
Factors that raised Abel Heating and Cooling’s rating include:
- Length of time business has been operating.
- No complaints filed with BBB.
When you call any company you are considering doing business with, ask if they supply references. Often customer comments can be found online, or you can take a look at reviews on Angie’s List.
How do you know if you’re being told the truth?
Does the service representative fully explain the problem with your system, then offer a variety of solutions? Or do they give you a vague (especially fatal) diagnosis with just one option or remedy? At ABEL, we thoroughly explain the problem with your system, then give a clear outline of your options.
Getting a second opinion can often avoid scams by verifying the claims made for repairing or replacing your HVAC equipment.
What are some of these potential false claims?
- You receive telemarketing solicitations, a flyer, or a knock on the door announcing “We’re in the neighborhood…” and they offer a free analysis of your system. Their advice might be that some component is going bad, you need refrigerant, or you have toxic mold.
- A contractor may tell you your heat exchanger is cracked and it will die soon.
- You are told you need a replacement part and led to think it could be expensive. You are advised to just replace the system rather than do the repair, when in reality, it could have been fixed with a relatively inexpensive part, such as a capacitor.
- Perhaps you are advised to replace a perfectly good unit.
- Does a service representative offer prices ‘too good to be true’?
- Some contractors may even charge you for parts they never actually replace.
What are your choices?
Optimally, you will want to consider the solution with the longest and highest range of performance. There may be some middle of the road choices based on efficiency and economy, or you might be able to get by with a quick, but not always permanent, fix. We at ABEL Heating & Cooling want you to know that we will work with the option you choose, and will be sure that you are fully aware of your choices and the possible outcome. In other words, our job is to find the problem with your HVAC system and create solutions. Your job is to choose one.
Upselling doesn’t have to be a dirty word.
Sometimes “upselling” may really be “cross-selling”. What is the difference? Upselling is a ploy to sell a more expensive version of a product, or to add extra features and add-ons to an existing, already efficient unit.
Upselling, simply put, is if you are purchasing a 27” TV and the sales people pressure you to buy a 32” TV or an extended warranty. Cross-selling is when you are offered products that are different, but related. Like if you are buying that TV and a salesperson offers you a play station to go with it.
But again, the key is what options are you given? Or instead are you TOLD you must have a certain item?
Upselling can actually create a Win/Win situation when approached in an ethical manner. For example: if you’ve reserved a hotel room at a certain rate and when you arrive you are asked if you’d like to add a special discounted meal to your accommodations. If the add-on price is less than the normal cost, you Win.
Perhaps a HVAC company representative will offer you choices in quality and prices of equipment. The key word again is ‘Choices’. You aren’t being led down a single path to the product that they are choosing for you.
We interviewed a disgruntled HVAC installation technician and here is what he had to say:
Jeff came to work for us at ABEL Heating and Cooling in the spring of 2015. He is in the United States Army Reserves as a Psychological Operations Sergeant. Prior to this, he studied the HVAC service program at the Dunwoody College of Technology, in Minneapolis, MN.
Before joining us, Jeff worked for a HVAC firm that he felt made sales and upselling their number one priority. He says, “We were told to focus on looking for selling points, as opposed to addressing relevant service problems. And we were required to pitch at least five different products per call.”
He felt this solicitation distracted him from the customer’s problem at hand, and he was even required to keep a written record on each work order of what he pitched during the service call.
Customers don’t want to hear this. I went to school to be a service technician and solve peoples HVAC problems, not do high pressure sales.
His base hourly pay started low because he was encouraged to earn commission based on sales.
We would pitch products although the customer didn’t really need them, and I felt I wasn’t doing my job, which was to help the customer, not be a sales specialist.
In fact, Jeff’s business card gave his title as: “Indoor Air-Quality Sales Specialist”
The company had a high turn-around rate of technicians and after one year Jeff was the longest employee on the job.
He said he felt rushed having to do sales, which reflected on the quality of work performed, often causing the need for call-backs.
Since Jeff joined ABEL, he says, “I’ve learned more than I could ever have imagined from the technicians I work with at ABEL…men who have been working here for many years.”
He said that ABEL is a very friendly and honest company to work for. By not being required to reach sales quotas, he is able to devote his time to what the customer needs done. He often hears from customers that ABEL does such a great job that they refer us to their friends.
ABEL is more honest, and is based on getting the job done, doing it properly and to the best of their ability. They are 100% focused on getting the job done right!
(Jeff is currently on full-time deployment. We at ABEL Heating and Cooling look forward to his return.)