How to avoid getting ripped off by a repair company

From time to time, we hear appliance, outdoor power equipment and heating and cooling equipment repair company rip-off stories from customers.

Many companies are honest and reliable. Unfortunately, there are a few bad ones in the mix, too. This is not a new problem. Fortunately, it’s never been a better time for homeowners to avoid getting taken advantage of by repair companies.

How to avoid getting ripped off:

  • Educate yourself, troubleshoot and determine if you can fix the problem on your own.

Understand the basic operation of your appliances and equipment by reviewing the owner’s manuals and the how-it-works videos available on our YouTube channel. Next find and record the appliance or equipment model number. If you need help finding that, visit RepairClinic.com. Many of the most common appliance, outdoor power equipment and heating and cooling problems can be fixed easily by following how-to information. Repairs are often as simple as replacing a broken part. Enter your appliance or equipment model number at RepairClinic.com for free troubleshooting and repair how-to information.

  • Gather information.

First, review the warranty information in the owner’s manual. Some parts may be covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.

  • Research.

Start by asking friends and family in your social networks for recommendations. Be sure to do additional research for a more thorough look at the company’s integrity. Compare ratings and reviews of the various companies with the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, Yelp, Google Local and other online resources. To be even more thorough, contact your local chamber of commerce and homeowner’s association to inquire about the company’s reputation.

  • Don’t focus on the lowest quoted service price.

Remember that the lowest service call price may not always get you the best deal. Elevated labor and parts costs may be added to the costs later. That’s why it’s so important to research and find a reputable company.

  • Beware of package service promotions.

Heating and cooling repair companies and small engine repair shops frequently promote inexpensive packaging tune-up and maintenance packages. While we always recommend that you perform routine maintenance or hire professionals to do the work, be aware that there are unscrupulous companies that may use the maintenance visit as an opportunity to find more lucrative work on your equipment. A company with a stellar reputation in the community is more likely to give you the best value in the long run.

 

After you’ve hired a repair company:

  • Record the repair professional’s name
  • Retain all invoices. The invoice should describe work completed and list all replaced parts. Request to see and keep the replaced parts. Unless the parts are under manufacturer warranty or the manufacturer has a core return program offering a rebate for a return part, you own the parts.

 

Red flags

  • Lack of a physical address in company communications.
  • Inability to present proof of insurance.
  • If the repair professional asks you to pay separately (i.e. one check for service, one check for parts). If this occurs, contact the company immediately.

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