Fall is the ideal time to have your furnace serviced - before the busy winter season starts. Better Business Bureau warns the public to be cautious of misleading door-to-door heating contractors who may use scare tactics to convince homeowners to buy a new furnace or authorize expensive, but unneeded, repairs to their existing heating system.
Every fall, we see a spike in consumers contacting us about heating contractors showing up at their door offering everything from duct cleaning to furnace inspections. While most furnace companies are reputable, competent and fair, con artists may try to manipulate consumers into unnecessary installations or repairs using fear as their main tactic.
The BBB has received reports of con artists who tried to frighten consumers into purchasing a new heating system with warnings that their heating system is leaking dangerous gases that could explode or poison those inside the house. In another example, a company has posed as representatives of a local B.C. municipality designated to do gas inspections on the city’s behalf.
Before you choose a heating contractor, consider the following tips:
- Start with the BBB to find helpful information like owners, company addresses, and customer service information by visiting the company’s reliability report at: www.mbc.bbb.org
- Hire heating contractors who:
- Are licensed with the B.C. Safety Authority, call 1-866-566-SAFE (7233).
- Are or employ certified gas fitters.
- Are bonded and insured for liability and property damage.
- Can provide a copy of the gas permit authorizing the company to work on your heating system.
- Offer warranties that cover equipment, materials and labour.
- Offer maintenance and service after installation and after warranties have expired.
- Provide customer references.
3.Get at least two estimates for the work. All bids should be in writing and should provide a full description of the services to be provided and the materials to be used.
4.Compare more than cost. Check the size and rated efficiency of the equipment each contractor recommends. Ask each contractor how he or she arrived at recommending a particular sized system. Check and make sure you understand the warranty they offer.
Consumer Protection B.C. can help with allegations of misleading door-to-door sales practices. For complaints, contact them at 1-888-564-9963 or visit: www.consumerprotectionbc.
SEPTEMBER 2010 SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER ISLAND
SEPTEMBER 2010 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND
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