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Question DetailsAsked on 9/7/2016

I was recently charged $975 for a/c work and after talking to various neighbor they told me I got ripped off.

The $975 bill was to install a u/v lite on my a/c evaporator cost $500 then $300 to put Vital Oxide in the ducts $100 to install emergency flow switch to prevent ac overflow $100 and cleaning the evaporator and blower cost was $275 for a total of $1175 and then he said he would give me a discount of $200...I am a disabled senior citizen and I called them to have my ducts cleaned for $35 they said with the uv light and the vital oxide I didn't need the ducts cleaned I am severely asthmatic and I need to know if these costs are appropriate and if it is true that the ducts don't need to be cleaned...I know it is after the fact but if I got ripped off I will report this company to Florida Dept of Consumer Affairs...don't want anyone else taken advantage of....pls can you answer my questions..Thx

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Because of the way you phrased your question, I would suggest you contact the Florida Department of Consumer Affairs and ask to talk to their Disabled/Elder Fraud Unit, because it sounds like you feel you were pressured into the upselling which the vendor did in your case.

The pricing for the individual items sounds in the ballpark to me - though whether you needed them or not is a whole nother matter, so it comes down to whether you purchased these upgrades knowingly and willingly or were pressured into them, and whethear they were actually appropriate to your case or not. BECAUSE he said the ducts did not need cleaning (which is generally the case), I would lean towards the scam side on this, just from the sound of it. Had he shown you massive buildup of lint and debris in the ducts and wads of mold on the evaporator (assuming they had been cleaned periodically - at least every few years) I would have a different take on it, but when a duct cleaner comes to do a cleaning and then sayds you do not need one BUT he is offering all these other things, that makes me suspicious. His $35 charge hits me as quite suspicious too - a decent, professional high-airflow duct cleaning commonly runs in the $150-250 range or so - for $35 one could not afford to come and just bget set up for a cleaning, so it leads me to think a lowball cleaning quote was merely a leader to get a foot in the door to do the upselling that he did in your case.

The U/V lights, properly installed and sized, can dramatically reduce mold on the A/C evaporator coil, so can be a good thing IF needed - though most systems do not build mold enough to need them. Generally only needed in quite high humidity or rainy areas.

The Vital Oxide is basically an oxidizing mist treatment for bacterial and mold growth in the ducts - but since he said the ducts did not need cleaning I would really question whether it was appropriate, and $300 is certainly on the high side for that type treatment - more generally an under $100 add-on to a duct cleaning.

The emergency flow switch I am not clear on - if an evaporator condensate overflow switch or alarm, that can be appropriate for A/C's where an overflow of condensate pan (due to drain tube blockage) would cause significant damage or not be seen - commonly used for attic mounted units. There are also airflow or duct pressure switches that turn off the the A/C and sound an alarm if the evaporator coil gets so blocked by lint or mold that it is unduly restricting airflow - again used for units that are out-of-sight or prone to blockage, but again only a small percentage of units need it.

Evaporator and blower cleaning - that cost is probably in the normal range - can be less if unit is very easily removed (slide-out evaporator) or has removeable panels to allow in-duct cleaning, or can be double that or so if evaporator coil has to be depressurized and disconnected and removed for cleaning.

So - taken all together, IF these upgrades were needed then the total cost is probably in the ballpark - but if sold as upsells without need, could be consumer fraud.

You could get an idea of whether this sort of upselling by this particular vendor has been complained about before by checking the company rating and reviews on Angies List - you could also google for complaint history and comments using a search phrase like the following, putting in the company name and your town where shown - companyname townname complaints.

If a Premium Angies List member you could also call member services and talk to them about his history and possibly file a complaint to be handled under the AL dispute resolution program - ditto if this was purchased as an Angies List Deal or Coupon.

If you are confident you were ripped off, you could try to cancel the credit card charge or check payment - though that guarantees you will get into a battle with this vendor and he might file a lien on your property, so you have to be prepared to pursue it to the hilt and be fully confident you were scammed before doing that.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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