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McCutcheon Air Conditioning and Heating Blog

Why not buy an AC System online and save a few bucks?

We love online shopping as much as the next guy, but there are some things you just shouldn’t buy online and one of them is an Air Conditioning Unit.

Lately, there’s been a surge in the number of people calling to find out how much we charge to install an Air Conditioning unit they bought online.

The short answer is $0.

Sean McCutcheon’s Air Conditioning and Heating will not install a unit we did not purchase directly from the manufacturer and neither will most reputable Air Conditioning and Heating companies. You may be wondering why we wouldn’t just charge you for the labor and be glad that we didn’t have to deal with the hassle of loading and unloading this very heavy piece of equipment?

Air Conditioning and Heating systems are not “plug and play” like ovens or refrigerators. If you can save a few bucks by purchasing an oven or a refrigerator online, go right ahead. Air Conditioners, however, must be installed by skilled technicians who know how to purge the system, how to pull it into a vacuum, how to charge it with refrigerant, how to adjust the airflow, and much, much more.

But we have the skilled technicians, so what’s the problem?

The complexity of an Air Conditioning system installation gives online retailers a lot of room to shift blame, when a problem does occur, to issues related to the installation rather than a defect in the unit itself. This means they can easily get out of honoring the promises they make at the point of purchase and leave you holding the bag!

Manufactures don’t want to warranty equipment purchased online either…

Most manufacturer will not warranty equipment purchased online “unless installed by a licensed contractor”. This means you are covered, right? Well, not really. Because it is often hard to determine whether a problem was caused by a mistake in the installation, improper sizing of the unit, airflow issues or the equipment itself, the manufacturer can easily get out of honoring their warranty.

If you hire a licensed contractor and authorized brand dealer, like Sean McCutcheon’s Air Conditioning and Heating, to supply and install a unit and a problem arises, it does not matter whether the issue was caused by the installation or the equipment because, either way, you won’t be left holding the bag. The dealer that installed the unit will determine the cause of the problem, then work directly with the manufacturer to resolve the issue.

What happens if the equipment is damaged in transit?

Let’s say you do find a licensed contractor willing to install the equipment you purchased online and you agree on a price. The contractor clears their schedule, a crew shows up with all the additional materials required to get the job done, and they open the boxes only to find out that the equipment was damaged in transit and needs to be returned. Then what? If you guessed “I have to pay the contractor the agreed upon price”, you are correct!

You’ll also have to contact the retailer and return the unit yourself (hopefully the blame game hasn’t started yet). You may have to pay the contractor you hired to uninstall any equipment they already installed and then you’ll have to pay again to get the replacement unit installed.

What if the problem arises years after the initial installation?

Service companies, especially the ones that are not the most reputable, have a very high failure rate so it’s entirely possible that the company you used is no longer in business when your unit fails. Had you purchased the unit directly from a licensed contractor in your area, the manufacturer would be obligated to honor their warranty through another authorized dealer for their brand.

But what if I buy an Air Conditioning unit online from a company that offers installation?

Companies that provide installation for online purchases used to show the list of subcontractors that they essentially sold the lead to. This practice has fallen out of favor because online buyers quickly realized that these middlemen were not using top-rated companies. They use start-ups and other struggling contractors who need these leads to stay afloat.

This list of reasons why you shouldn’t buy and Air Conditioning unit online is by no means comprehensive but, hopefully, we’ve given you enough reasons why you should never buy something as intricate as an Air Conditioning system from anyone other than a licensed contractor in your area.

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