Poll

What would you do?

Call the HVAC company to complain and try to get some kind of partial refund
3 (30%)
Complain to the Home Warranty company and try to get them to increase the amount they'll cover
3 (30%)
Just accept the Home Warranty amount and consider it an expensive lesson
4 (40%)

Total Members Voted: 9

Author Topic: Got the shaft by HVAC company and home warranty. Can I do anything about it?  (Read 1663 times)

webguy

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 268
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Minnesota
So let me paint a picture; it's January in Minnesota, we have two sick kids - a 2 year old and a 9 month old - and the heat goes out at 3pm on a Friday afternoon.  My wife freaks out that it's getting cold so I call the home warranty company ASAP to get someone out to fix it.  They can't get anyone out till Monday except for a crappy vendor we've had before and really didn't like for various reasons - so we ask them if we can call around and use our own vendor.  They agree and we call some local companies. The only one who can come out that day was one we've used before and seemed like a reputable company.

They got someone out to us at 5pm, the home warranty company needs to speak to them prior to authorizing the work. They determine it's a faulty ECM module and it needs to be replaced. The tech tells them it's a $900 part and with labor the total cost will be $1400. The home warranty says they approve the vendor but that they would only be able to reimburse the work based on their own home warranty rates for parts and labor, which could be less. They couldn't provide an actual amount though at that time.  I figured it'd probably be somewhere around $1000 but was OK with that so long as it covered most of the cost. Not having time to perform any research or call for any other quotes I agreed to the work as I had no reason to doubt that the tech was overcharging me. I paid the vendor the full $1400 after they had finished.

Anyway, fast forward to today. I call the home warranty company having not heard anything about the claim, and they tell me they can cover $250, which is what their rates are for the work. This is less than 20% of what we paid. I obviously wasn't happy about this and have a supervisor scheduled to call me back to discuss it.  But in the meantime, I just called another local company to get a price estimate for the same work.  They quoted me around $500-600; $300 for labor and $200-300 for the part (although not the exact part - they were just guesstimating).  The cheapest I can find the exact part for online is around $450, although I'm guessing companies can probably get them cheaper.

I knew the vendor we used would be more expensive due to them having to squeeze us into their schedule (and I think use an "on call" guy), plus they said they'd need to pay a "door opening" fee at the parts store due to it being after 5pm.  I'm not sure whether the HVAC company completely gouged us though or if the home warranty company is low-balling us. I suspect a bit of both.

I'm looking for advice though for what you would do in this situation?  The main reason we agreed to pay the $1400 was because we were under the impression we'd be reimbursed a good chunk of it, otherwise we probably would have either used their crappy vendor or waited a day so we could get more quotes and used some electric heaters to try to stay warm over night.  It's not so much the money, as we have emergency funds for this reason, but I feel like we got taken advantage of here and I hate getting taken advantage of!
« Last Edit: March 08, 2018, 11:18:59 AM by webguy »

dcozad999

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 615
If the labor includes the emergency on-call upcharge and the door opening fee (sounds bogus), it seems like it could be legit. I once paid roto rooter an extra $90-$120 for their on call guy to get to my house that night.

Seems like you really got shafted on the cost of the part by that HVAC company though.

ChickenStash

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 29
  • Location: Midwest US
It might be helpful to check the policy information for the home warranty to see if they have language in there about "emergency" repairs and how they are reimbursed. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't cover it as home warranties are notoriously stingy but it's worth a shot.

If you can get the actual part number (or itemized bill) for what they replaced and do some comparison shopping maybe a discount can be worked out with the HVAC co. if their pricing seems too far out of line. I'd hesitate to take the $600 quote from the other co. as gospel if they didn't have the exact part number.

Jon Bon

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 764
  • Location: Midwest
Did you put it on a credit card?

I would think about disputing the charges. I mean $1400 is bordering  in on new furnace territory where I am.

Clearly sounds like he knew he had you over a barrel? I mean what furnace part costs $900? Do you have some crazy fancy furnace?

Find that part online and see how much it costs. If its a $200 part, yeah I would make a stink about it.




sokoloff

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1193
I would consider disputing the credit card charge as borderline (to be charitable) fraud on your part. The company provided a service for which you agreed to pay and did pay them $1400. The quality of the outcome provided by the HVAC company's work is not in question.

The only question you have is the price they charged, which was disclosed to you ahead of time and doesn't seem to have changed.

You were fine with that price when you thought someone else was paying it, but now not when you find out you have to pay most of it. Your position is understandable, but won't garner much sympathy with a judge (and hopefully not with your credit card company either).

Your insurance company does seem to be low-balling (which is also not surprising, given that they're in the insurance business at all). I think your only beef and resolution is with them.

webguy

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 268
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Minnesota
Did you put it on a credit card?

I would think about disputing the charges. I mean $1400 is bordering  in on new furnace territory where I am.

Clearly sounds like he knew he had you over a barrel? I mean what furnace part costs $900? Do you have some crazy fancy furnace?

Find that part online and see how much it costs. If its a $200 part, yeah I would make a stink about it.
I did put it on a credit card. I just called the HVAC company, the lady didn't know the exact amount they paid for the part as it wasn't itemized on the invoice so when their parts guy gets in on Monday she said they'll find out how much they paid for it and get back to me.  If it was genuinely an $800-900 part then I at least have something to use to dispute the Home Warranty amount. But if it was in fact only a couple of hundred bucks then I guess I can push back on the HVAC company as to why they charged me so much.

It might be helpful to check the policy information for the home warranty to see if they have language in there about "emergency" repairs and how they are reimbursed. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't cover it as home warranties are notoriously stingy but it's worth a shot.
This is good advice, thanks - I'll do this.

I would consider disputing the credit card charge as borderline (to be charitable) fraud on your part. The company provided a service for which you agreed to pay and did pay them $1400. The quality of the outcome provided by the HVAC company's work is not in question.

The only question you have is the price they charged, which was disclosed to you ahead of time and doesn't seem to have changed.

You were fine with that price when you thought someone else was paying it, but now not when you find out you have to pay most of it. Your position is understandable, but won't garner much sympathy with a judge (and hopefully not with your credit card company either).

Your insurance company does seem to be low-balling (which is also not surprising, given that they're in the insurance business at all). I think your only beef and resolution is with them.
I wouldn't dispute the credit card payment, for the reasons you mentioned, but if the part was genuinely only $200-300 and they upcharged me significantly due to the situation I was in then I'd certainly take issue with that.  I'm hoping that wasn't the case and that they priced it honestly and I can take up the issue further with the Home Warranty company.

Jon Bon

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 764
  • Location: Midwest
If my house was on fire and my local hardware store sold me a $1000 hose to put it out your damn right I would charge it and then dispute the charges.

Its what credit cards are for, to protect yourself from shitty vendors. Plus if the credit card company disagrees with you, you are no worse off. Not sure how that would be considered fraud. You had risk of property and bodily harm due to no heat, if someone took advantage of that the fraud is theirs, not yours.

Also dont ask the hvac guy what the price is! They have no incentive to tell the truth, call a different HVAC company or a supply house. Or just get the part number and check amazon.

I dont know all the ins and outs of the situation, but it sure feels like this HVAC company tried to screw you over, ad you thought you were fine because it would be covered by warranty. So in your situation I would not be paying the $1400. I can get a furnace replaced for $2,000.




sokoloff

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1193
Its what credit cards are for, to protect yourself from shitty vendors.
I think the credit card protection should be used, liberally, for cases where a vendor does not deliver as promised.

If the hardware store offered you a leak-free hose for $1000, you agreed, they delivered, you used it, and you found it to be leak-free and fit-for-purpose in every other regard, I'd hope the credit card company would tell you to pound sand.

Different people have different moral views, though.

Reynolds531

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 298
Here in Canada, land of the overcharged I can drive to the distributor and buy a WHOLE FURNACE for $750.

Go to Alpine airs website for US prices.

That price was either a mistake or the guy is a royal prick.

Scrapr

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 23
January in Minnesota. 5:00 pm on a Friday. You have 2 young kids.

Pay the man and move on

I've been there man. 2 times arrived at our vacation house and no heat. Of course it's f'ing cold. And there is a back up of calls because...cold. You're gonna pay more. We just signed up for the service plan so the HVAC doesn't break down on a cold day

You know what's cheap? Fixing it yourself
« Last Edit: March 08, 2018, 07:00:05 PM by Scrapr »

Jon Bon

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 764
  • Location: Midwest
My experience has been that emergency, same day repairs often run 2x the cost of when you have the luxury of shopping around.

Yup 2x is fair, I agree with that.

But what is a fair price on this? I'd make a stink over more than 2x.

OP paid $500 in labor, holy crap that's a ton. How many hours was he there? Part was $900, do you think a 2x markup on that would be fair as well? Obviously it is not my money, but the HVAC company had OP between a rock and a hard place. Did they exploit this is the question?