Recently we had near 100 degree heat wave in Western Washington. The
upstairs was not cooling down very much. So we called Sunset Air to
check our central A/c unit. The technician said that the unit was
working properly, freon level was fine, the evaporation coils were
clean, and the filters were working ok. He did recommend that we
purchase a new unit down the road because our unit is getting older. He
charged us a total of $171.81, which included $133.50 for one hour
technical service, $25 truck charge, and $13.31 sales tax. An invoice
from 2003 shows that they charged us $107.50 for 1.25 hours technical
service and no truck charge for checking out our central heat/ac and
replacing the ignition module (extra parts charge). Is it standard for
the technical service charge to have gone up about 40% plus tacking on a
$25 gas charge nowadays? Their company is about 6 miles from our home.
The cost of doing business has really gone up in the last few years
with insurance skyrocketing and fuel cost. However if they are a
resonable company that wants your business in the future ie..putting in
that reccomended unit, they might be willing to come off that invoice.
Just explain to them what you think is unreasonable and mayby dangle
that carrot in front of them, but dont lose your temper or nothing will
Otherwise I would suggest calling around for prices before setting that
The key word here is 'heat wave'. many service firms love it and will
price gouge if at all possible. Yes, that's too much of an increase.
I'd call the management, point out that you're a repeat customer,
and request a price adjustment. Maybe request a quote on an
annual preventive maintenance call? Booked during their 'slow'
Thanks for your suggestions. This is the email I sent them. Hope it
makes a difference:
We have been loyal customers of yours for many years. My wife and I
think you overcharged us on our service call on 7/28/06. We asked you
to check our central a/c unit. Your technician reported that the unit
is getting older but is working fine. The freon level was fine and the
filters and coils were clean. The bill came to a whopping $171.81.
Like ourselves, our neighbors and friends were shocked. Your labor
charge has increased 55.2% since 2003 plus you add a $25 gas charge just
for driving over from Lacey. We hope that you will reconsider the
charges and refund part of charges to us. If you choose not to honor
our request, we will voice our displeasure loudly to whomever will
listen. And we will cease to be your loyal customers. Thank you for
your kind consideration.
Why didn't you ask ahead of time what their costs were. And as far as
that truck charge goes... That truck may have been 55 miles away before
your call. At this time of year these techs are not sitting around
waiting for your call.
I don't think you deserve money back, but the owner/manager may take a
loss on you because it will cost more to gain another customer than to
give you $40, not to mention all the bad publicity that you will
enthrall upon them...All because you didn't do your due diigence.
I agree. Also, I think that email is rather ineffective in matters like
A face to face with the boss is much better. Second best is a polite
business letter. More likely to get some results.
If I got a letter like that from a customer I'd send it back with a
check for the full amount and stamp FUCK YOU in big red letters on it.
Do you have any clue how much stuff has gone up in the last three
years, not to mention overhead?
As much as I'd like not to, I really have to agree with the last
person. You should know that it always costs more to have them come
out when you hit weather extremes. You should know that inflation is
rampant in the last few years (not just gas and heathcare costs, more
like everything that's not made in China). The only thing the service
tech didn't do is explain to you that in most cases A/C is designed to
only cool your house maybe 20 degrees and further that most ductwork
systems are inadequate for A/C, espically on really hot days (even in
new houses). A smarter move on your part would have been to get a
window unit for the upstairs as a suppliment (which is what I do to
make up for my inadequate ductwork).
So did he tell you exactly the reason why the central A/C was not
cooling the upstairs? Did he say what could be done to get better
cooling? The charge does not sound unreasonable and (like TN) the
sales taxes are outrageous. Recently, I paid $384 to an A/C service
company to get a diagnosis and have a capacitor replaced. I was very
happy to be cool again.
My son is a HVAC tech... and has been working 16 hour days the last
few weeks.... and you bet the bills his company has been sending out
A good portion of this is honestly his overtime pay....
The cost of fuel for his work van has doubled in the last year
who do you think is going to have to pay for that....
I'm not saying that your bill was unfair ( I just do not know)...
Assuming you AC is ok, take a thermometer and measure the inlet and outlet
temperatures. AC should be dropping the air temperature about 20 degrees.
If it is and the house is too warm, then it is undersized. This way you can
check it yourself and save a service charge, yeah this is water under the
bridge for you but a good idea anyway. Good to do in the winter for your
furnace as well.
Maybe, Maybe not.
What is the design temperature? If the unit was designed for a typical
northern climate that has high temperatures of 85 - 90 degrees, it will not
cool properly when the outside is 105 as it has been the past couple of
weeks. There is a much greater heat gain that the unit was NOT designed to
As I recall, it was around 97 outside and 80 inside on the bottom floor
and around 88 upstairs. After about 6 hours, the inside temp downstairs
had dropped to 77, so not much of an improvement. No change upstairs.
Maybe the older system was just overmatched by the unusually hot temps
outside. If global warming is for real, we just might have to invest in
a more efficient unit down the road (among other big changes).
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