Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Always get that contract!

Ever get a feeling a company tried the old bait and switch routine on you? That’s the feeling I have today. Close to a month ago I called the company that services my central air conditioning unit. The unit needed an annual cleaning. The person who answered the phone gave me the price for call in requests. She explained what the company would do for that price.

Then she asked why I didn’t have one of their service contracts which would result in a much more thorough cleaning and take care of everything in the unit. Whereas the regular cleaning would be done primarily with brushes, a contract cleaning for just ten dollars more would include everything, including chemical cleaning.

I elected to pay the extra ten dollars and was told I would get a form in the mail to check off which plan I wanted, but she would have it all filled out for me as we discussed. All I had to do was initial the form and send it back with the payment. I would then receive a full contract to sign in the mail. That contract would include a complete description of what would be done. Once that was sent back, she’d schedule an appointment for the work.

All went well for the first part of the deal. I promptly got the paper to initial in the mail, initialed it, and sent it back with the payment. I waited. And waited. Two weeks went by and I had not heard from the company, a long time well respected one in the Greater Portland area, incidentally. No contract, no scheduled appointment.

I called again and the person said the appointment wasn’t scheduled yet because they hadn’t received the signed contract. Pretty hard to sign something I never received explained I. She said they knew what I wanted and had my money so she scheduled the appointment for today and said the contract would be sent right out.

I still haven’t seen the contract.

But the technician arrived right on time this morning. I got the first hint I had been snookered when he immediately started discussing an upgrade. That was before he even looked at the system to see how it was performing. I would have thought he at least would have put on a show of examining the units and then telling me I needed something else. Nope. Let’s talk about an upgrade first.

I think I may have politely said to just do what I was supposed to have done. After all, he was the technician, not the company salesperson. He told me the filter would be an extra $60. Whoa! I told him ‘everything’ was supposed to be included. He called his company and relayed what I had said, but they told him I was in error, that I was never told this session included everything. His boss had her notes right in front of her.

I didn’t get the filter. I also expressed my total unhappiness with the company. And even may have mentioned that a 15 year relationship may be coming to an end.

The technician went to work on the system and I have to admit it was a most thorough job. Excluding the filter, which he told me wasn’t in bad shape, everything was cleaned and tested and other replacement stuff was completed. He then checked the entire system and had it running. I was satisfied with the technician’s work.

But now I know why they never sent me that contract. And I watch People’s Court enough to know that one should always have a contract.


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