Thursday, October 23, 2014

South Home Air in Dayton, Ohio, tried to rob me

I had my first scam artist experience here in Ohio!  It involves a company called South Home Air.

When getting our dishwasher installed, the installation man noticed that our boiler was leaking.  So we turned it off and called up someone to take a look.  The first guys who came are a local company called South Home Air, Inc.  The guys came down for a look and decided that we needed at least $1000 worth of work, but to be safe, we should replace the boiler, which had a crack in the heat exchanger.  That would be over $6000 but . . . well, if the boiler has a crack, it might be worth it, right?

I said I'd think about it.  That evening, I got two calls from the guys trying to pressure me into deciding.  This started to vex me because I generally mean it when I say, "I'll call you when I decide what to do."

We have a home warranty but we don't actually like the company.  But if the job was going to be somewhere between a grand and six grand, well, we decided it was worth the hassle to get them involved.  So I put in a service request.

This morning, South Home Air called again - despite having been told THREE TIMES NOW that I'll call them when I'm good and ready.  I told them that someone else was going to look at the unit.  They said I owed them seventy bucks.  I said that I don't like to pay for estimates so I don't want to do business with them.

A few minutes later, I got another call from different people at South Home Air.  At first, I thought there was simply a mix-up and they thought I wouldn't pay them the seventy dollars.  I told the guy on the phone that, sure, if they bill us, we'll pay, but we're not going to work with people who charge for estimates.  (The bigger problem is that I didn't KNOW they were going to charge for an estimate.  It appears the industry is in a bit of transition and contractors have started to charge for estimates, which sounds really shady to me.  It's like having someone charge you to tell you how much something costs, which I would prefer not to do.)  The guy continued to try to sell me, saying that the seventy dollar fee would be waived if we paid them a thousand or six thousand dollars.  At some point I used the word "goddamn" and he was, like, "Don't talk to me like that."  I told him, "You called me, you fucking thief, and I'll swear when I like!"  He objected to being called a thief and we argued for a bit.

After a couple of minutes, I said, "Look, it doesn't matter if it's a service call or an estimate or whatever - we're yelling at each other.  Clearly we shouldn't work together."  Then he insulted my intelligence ("I thought I was talking with an intelligent person!") and then I said I didn't want to work with him, then he gave me an insulting apology ("I'm sorry that you don't understand how this business works!") and then I hung up.

It gets worse!  Today, another guy came over to look at the boiler.  His findings?  "This pressure release valve doesn't work, so I can't tell if there are leaks in other places."

I asked about repiping.  He said that the pipes were old but in good condition and there was no sign of leakage.  I asked about the broken heat exchanger.  He said he didn't see anything broken but he couldn't be sure until they could build the pressure in the pipes.  I asked why someone would then suggest a new water heater.  He did not know.  He said that our model of boiler is "like a tank" and regaled me with a story of the sixty year old one he'd dealt with in the past.  He said that the new ones are more efficient, sure, and they'd happily install a new unit if we wanted a smaller, more efficient unit but that's not what the South Home Air guys said.

The upshot - South Home Air tried to rob me and my wife.  Fuck those guys.

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