…your air conditioning unit was these loose
fuses. We know that because we deliberately pulled them out, cutting power. That’ll shut
down the compressor. What was your name? I’m sorry. Tim. We’re testing the expertise of
home repairmen. These techs that showed up did exactly the right thing. They pushed the
fuses back in and told Jenny no other work was needed. Rafael wouldn’t even accept payment.
How much do I owe you? Nothing. Will George from America’s Comfort Heating & Cooling do
the same? He quickly finds the loose fuses and pushes them back in and does his inspection.
Instead of telling Jenny the job’s done, he has some bad news. You have a leak somewhere.
The system he says is leaking Freon, the coolant inside the air conditioner. But how would
he know? Testing a leak is a long and complicated process, something George didn’t do. So there’s
a leak? Oh yeah. 100% there’s a leak. George says dealing with a leak could get expensive.
Especially if it’s in the long snaking coil where Freon circulates. You’re looking at
probably about $1500 to replace the coil. Either we can look for the leak and fix the
leak, and if it’s in one of the coils it’s not worth it. It’s worth getting rid of the
whole thing. Then there’s the cost of adding Freon. We have to recharge the system so you’re
looking at probably $1900. How would that cost compare to getting a brand new air conditioning
unit? It’s $3826. That’s three thousand eight hundred and twenty-six dollars. Bottom line,
what do we need to do? I would just replace it. We’re talking the whole thing. Yes. All
right. Stay here and I’ll be right back. It’s time for me to have a chat with George. What
exactly is wrong with the air conditioning unit. I think it’s just a little bit low on
Freon, and I don’t know how low it is….But what you told Jenny is that it’s about half
empty. Yeah I think it’s about half empty. Like I said I have to weigh it all in that’s
why I can’t give her a price on all the Freon. That’s why I can’t give her a price on all…I
understand that. What is this man? You guys trying to test us here? Actually I am. Here’s
something you need to know George. We had that system tested. The only issue with that
system is that the fuse, George come on I want to talk to you. George sees our cameras
and quickly heads to the door. George I’m Chris Hanson with Dateline NBC and we’re doing
a story on the quality of service. You’ve got a 20 year old unit man. George is right.
It is an old system. But the fact is, even though it isn’t as energy efficient as the
new one, it works just fine according to our expert Carl. It is up in age. It’s efficiency
is not what the newer one is. But operationally it’s sound. If Jenny had followed George’s
advice she would’ve been out thousands of dollars to replace an air conditioning unit
that wasn’t broken. Here comes our next technician, Tony from Abode Air. All of the sudden I can
feel air, but it’s not cool. Tony comes in and after meeting Jenny, heads back outside.
Checks himself out and gets his tools. How carefully does he check out the air conditioner?
He appears to examine the circuit board and take some notes. He never spots the loose
fuses we deliberately pulled out. Instead he jumps on the fact that it’s an older unit.
He says he’s found an entirely new problem. How does it look? Well you’ve got some bad
news from the older one. It has what we call an LRA. It’s locked up rotor head. Tony tells
Jenny that the problem is something called a locked rotary head and her motor isn’t working.
So it’s just bad? The unit is completely bad? It’s shot? Yeah it’s bad. Tony’s best advice?
Get a new unit. Do you know how much a new unit would cost? Just a rough estimate? We’ll
say $5000. Rough estimate. $5000? Remember all that’s wrong are the loose fuses. Hey
are you? So I head downstairs to speak with Tony. So all in, what do you estimate this
will cost? Probably about $5200. Good, so this is the estimate? I have to still finish
filling it out. Tony before you go, there’s something I need to tell you. I’m really not
the man of the house. I’m Chris Hanson with Dateline NBC. OK. We’re doing a story on the
quality of service provided by repairmen and mechanics of the house. Sure. So a couple
things…go ahead and have a seat. Relax. Can I ask you a couple questions. No. In fact
I’m not going to have a seat I got to get things. I’ll walk with you. There’s something
I want to show you out there. Things that you said needed to be repaired on this unit
weren’t broken. That’s the bottom line. I wouldn’t say that system works fine at all.
Bottom line is, on a 24 year old system, they’re going to have multiple problems with that.
I don’t care what anybody says. He stuck with his story even though I pointed out the real
problem minutes earlier. Can I show you one thing? Go ahead. Works just fine now. Yeah
it does. All you had to do is push this in. Good to go. I didn’t push the fuse in. Whey
didn’t you push the fuse in? Because I didn’t notice that it was sticking out. But wouldn’t
you check that as a matter of routine? No. You don’t go to a job where the disconnect
is sticking out. We just check the fuses. So what can you do to make sure the repair
person you call is the right one for the job? First, when someone gives you the bad news,
get a second opinion. So this is a must do right now? One of the best ways to find someone
who knows their stuff is by word of mouth. Get a referral from someone who’s had a good
repair experience. That way the odds of finding someone you can trust will go way up. We want
to hear from you. If you feel you’ve been victimized or treated unfairly and there’s
something we should look into, or maybe someone I should talk to, let us know. Send an email
to [email protected] That’s all for this…..