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Better Business Bureau Warns Against AC Repair Scam

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PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) - The hotter it gets, the more opportunistic scam artists get. That's the warning from the Better Business Bureau when it comes to some air-conditioning repair contractors.

If your house is cool and you walk outside to find your air conditioning unit running smoothly, be thankful, and consider having a maintenance inspection to keep things this way. That's one of several things experts recommend to keep from finding yourself in a desperate situation.

After many years in the repair business Stevie McCown has heard it all before. When customers call for second opinions, he often learns how some air-conditioning repair contractors are trying to take advantage of people in need.

"It really irritates me and all of our employees," said McCown, the residential service manager for the Dallas heating and cooling company, Frymire.

McCown says he hates that all repair companies can get a bad name when scam artists pull common tactics like bait and switch.

"Okay we've got this thermostat that's on sale, but you go to your truck, and you realize, I don't have that thermostat now. I've got this thermostat, and I'm going to upsell you on a thermostat that was actually say $50. Now it's $300. It's somewhat of a bait and switch, and that happens a lot," McCown said.

The BBB is warning customers after receiving complaints about air-conditioning service calls. A Rowlett man filed a complaint about a company he says offered him an inexpensive inspection only to tell him he needed to replace his entire system at a cost of more than $16,000. The man got a second opinion and found he only needed a simple repair.

"Companies will come in with a very low price, just to get in as a loss leader. They can get in. They don't care about losing, but they want to get in and actually try to upsell,"" McCown said.

One company sent a Plano homeowner a list of services he didn't want and told him to discuss it with the technician who came to his home. The customer says the technician would only agree to perform everything on the list or nothing at all. McCown says to make sure all services to be performed are agreed in advance, so there are no surprises.

"Then once we make a decision on what they want done, then we perform the work," McCown said.

Another thing experts recommend is to be present for any inspections and work done, so the technician can explain how they diagnosed a problem and how they're going to fix it. If the technician doesn't want you around in your own home, that's a red flag.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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