Some air conditioning companies have as many telemarketers on the payroll as technicians.
One of the first signs that an air conditioning company may be shady can be if you receive a phone call from them right out of the blue. This may be a company based in one city that is targeting other cities where it is not known. What they lack in reputation, professionalism and skill, they make up for in mass advertising.
These companies buy call lists and target certain neighborhoods and people who match a desired profile. The elderly are a favorite target, but anyone can fall prey to these dishonest businesses. One tactic they will often use is to call and claim they are just down the street at a neighbor's house and would like to offer you a discounted or free service. The person who shows up at the door is a salesman who works on commission. Their goal is to get you for as much money as possible.
These unscrupulous predators will try anything and everything.
They will claim to find mold, say the system is unsafe, and tell you that your family is in extreme danger. Some companies will even claim that they legally cannot leave an AC system running in such a bad condition. They will try to get you to sign a document and may even refuse to leave before you do. Obviously, the last thing they want is for you to get a second opinion.
The following are other things to beware of; wanting you to pay in full before any work is done, not allowing you to verify their license or insurance information, or making you feel intimidated.
There are many ways you can find out if a company or contractor is legitimate.
The Better Business Bureau is a great resource for information and ratings on companies, your local Chamber of commerce can recommend businesses, but the best thing to do is ask around. Contact friends and neighbors to ask who they recommend. Do a little research on the internet; see what other people say about the company. Finally, it never hurts to get a second opinion before you agree to spend a large amount of money on something.