Better Business Bureau warns of HVAC service scam

Everett Herald Business Journal staff

The Better Business Bureau is warning homeowners against a group of people who are posing as heating-and-air conditioning contractors who do often shoddy work and then pressure the customers into paying much more than quoted.

These impostors use variations of legitimate business names. Some of the names reported include GFA Heating, Green Fresh Air Heating, Pacific Home Services and Home Services Inc.

A homeowner in Bothell told the Better Business Bureau that he received an unsolicited phone call from GFA Heating & Cooling LLC for a $45 duct cleaning and a free dryer vent cleaning, and he agreed to the service.

After the appointment, the company handed him a bill for $1,095.94. The consumer stated he then called four local duct cleaning companies to ask what a reasonable price is for this type of service. He said all four companies gave him a range of $575 or less.

Similarly, a Seattle woman told the Better Business Bureau she was quoted $45 over the phone for duct cleaning and furnace inspection. When GFA Heating & Cooling LLC arrived, she says the company then changed its price to $1,300. She declined the service, but says she was still charged $45.

A phone number listed on the Better Business Bureau’s website for the company is no longer working.

GFA Heating & Cooling LLC, which lists an address in Renton, currently has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau. Since January, the agency has reached out to the company regarding complaints nine times via email and phone. Only one complaint has been resolved; the others remain unresolved or unanswered.

The Better Business Bureau urges consumers who receive solicitations for duct cleaning, dryer vent cleaning or other types of those services to do the following:

1. Call the primary business for whom the company claims to be subcontracting. If that business has never heard of them, take that as a red flag. A legitimate, trustworthy company would not misrepresent itself to you.

2. Look up the company at bbb.org/search. A company’s BBB Business Review often includes contact information, a start date and a three-year history of complaints as well as how the company responded.

3. Many duct cleaners do not need a specialty license, but all businesses need a business license. Check with the Washington State Department of Revenue to make sure the company is properly registered and see how long it’s been operating.

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