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Before you turn on the a/c this summer, know how to be a smart consumer with your repairman

air conditioner
Tammy Guerrero
Photo of contactor and looking at contactor on air conditioner
Posted at 1:41 PM, May 17, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It's almost air conditioning season. In fact, you may have even turned yours on already.

But first, an important warning about getting your unit worked on. One air conditioning repair company told a woman in Hermitage that she needed a whole new unit and showed her pictures that they said proved it. There was just one problem.

We count on our air conditioning systems when the temperatures rise.

But Tammy Guerrero nearly lost her cool after she says an a/c repair company tried to get her to spend thousands of dollars she didn't need to.

Tammy Guerrero
Tammy Guerrero

"I don’t want this to happen to anybody else," Guerrero told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

It all started when she was shopping at Home Depot and an employee offered her a $19 spring tune up.

Two days later, Home Depot sent a technician from ARS Rescue Rooter to check out her system. .

"My unit was working fine. I was just blown away when the man came in and said, 'You’ve got this and this and this wrong with your unit,'" Guerrero recalled.

According to the ARS Rescue Rooter tech, Guerrero needed what's known as a contactor, a new fan motor, and the fan itself needed cleaning. The total cost? $1583.

"But he suggested me to have a new unit. Because he said, 'With that kind of money, I suggest that you just go ahead and have a new unit," Guerrero said.

That's right. He wanted her to put in a whole new air conditioner and when he wrote up his recommendations, he had already scheduled someone to come out the next day to give her an estimate.

"How hard was he trying to sell you this stuff?" NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Guerrero.

"Very hard!" she replied.

But Guerrero wasn't sold yet so the tech texted her a picture.

"And what did he tell you it was?" we asked.

"He said that was my contactors. And they were burned. And I was like, 'Oh, wow.' He said, 'Yeah, you need a new one.' He goes, 'Because your system is fixing to go out,'" Guerrero explained.

But something, she said, just didn't seem right.

And after Guerrero called NewsChannel 5 Investigates, we asked another company, Proctor and Graves Service Company, to take a look at Guerrero's system. They sent David Paris, their senior technician.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Paris after he inspected her unit, "So would you recommend that someone replace this?"

"Not with the condition that it’s in now," Paris responded.

He said Guerrero did not need to spend thousands of dollars on a new air conditioner right now. And what about the contactor, the one that supposedly was burned and about to go out?

"It looks like normal wear and tear. And it is still functional," he explained, adding that it would probably last several more years.

So what about that picture then the tech sent?

Paris showed us Guerrero's unit and compared it to the one in the picture.

"That contactor there is a double pole and as you can see, this is a single pole so this has one plunger and a straight line across. This one has two plungers," Paris shoewd us.

"So this (the one in the picture) is not hers?" NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked.

"That is not the same contactor," Paris replied.

Photo of contactor and looking at contactor on air conditioner
Photo of contactor and looking at contactor on air conditioner

ARS Rescue Rooter turned down our requests for an interview, but said in a statement:

"Consistent with our policies, our technician advised Ms. Guerrero of his findings and provided her with multiple options to consider for her 9-year-old HVAC system.
In reviewing the photos of Ms. Guerrero’s system, ARS stands behind the diagnosis and recommendations of its technician."

Online, we found other customers complaining that they too had had ARS Rescue Rooter techs out to do a spring tune up or minor repair, only to be told their systems had "serious issues" and needed thousands of dollars of work yet when they called another company, they found all they needed was a "simple cleaning" or small part to get their "system working as good as ever for 1/4 of the price."

"When it comes time to spend money, it’s time to spend money. But if it is not time to spend money, and let’s take care of it until it is," David Paris with Proctor and Graves said of his company's philosophy.

And while Paris said maintenance on your system is important if you want it to last, he added that it's also important to be an educated consumer and get a second opinion on major repairs, and like Tammy Guerrero, anytime something doesn't sound right.

Paris said, "She was absolutely right to question it (the diagnosis and quote from ARS Rescue Rooter).

Paris also said be wary of deals that sound too good to be true, like a $19 spring tune up, which he suggested could be a way just to get a tech into your house to sell you something. He said the technician probably makes more than $19 an hour, so unless you end up paying for another repair or service while he's there, the company is going to lose money.

ARS, by the way, has now refunded Guerrero the $19 she'd paid for her tune-up.

FULL STATEMENT FROM ARS RESCUE ROOTER:
ARS/Rescue Rooter has proudly served our Nashville community for more than 40 years, and we consider it a privilege to serve our customers as our neighbors. We recognize that we have a responsibility to comprehensively address our customers’ concerns, and our company policies are designed to ensure that each customer interaction is performed to the highest professional and ethical standards. Our technicians provide our customers with multiple options to address immediate problems, as well as long-term options to prevent future issues or to make their home more efficient. Our customers are free to choose some, all, or none of the options provided - and all of our work is backed by our unmatched guarantees that are the best in the industry. Consistent with our policies, our technician advised Ms. Guerrero of his findings and provided her with multiple options to consider for her 9-year-old HVAC system. Ultimately, Ms. Guerrero chose not to proceed with any of the recommended options, and we have refunded her entire payment of $19.00 in accordance with our Unconditional Money Back Guarantee. While ARS has not been provided with the differing written opinion or diagnosis of the competitor, in reviewing the photos of the system Ms. Guerrero provided to us, ARS stands behind the diagnosis and recommendations of its technician. Our greatest asset has been our employees’ maintaining the trust of our customers in this community, and we will not tolerate any behavior that might jeopardize that trust. It remains our highest priority to ensure that our customers have a positive experience with our company. If for any reason a customer is dissatisfied with our company or its services, we want to know about it, and we will make every effort to meet their expectations, guaranteed.

FULL STATEMENT FROM HOME DEPOT:
“We require all of our service providers to act ethically and follow all local laws and regulations. Our third-party provider is investigating what happened here, and we’re in discussions with them as we await the findings.”