A refund for HVAC job that didn't take?
June 28, 2016 9:27 PM   Subscribe

Long story short: I called an HVAC company that I used to work for because our boiler was having issues. They came out the next morning, gave me a deal on the labor rate, and reset the whole system. Less than 12 hours later, it's on the fritz again. I feel awkward about asking for a refund because they gave me a deal and came out right away, but they only temporarily fixed the problem. Should we or shouldn't we ask for a full or partial refund?

Longer story: We have a high-efficiency boiler for our hot water (Utica model UBSSC-075), and recently we've had a few issues with the pilot staying lit. Normally we can just hit the reset button and it re-ignites and we're good-to-go, but on Sunday night/Monday morning the display read that the boiler was off due to "no demand" and would not reset via the reset button. I called an HVAC company I worked for for about 5 years. They offered me a 30% discount rate on the labor costs and offered to come out the next morning.

When the guy got here, he saw the system and admitted he had never seen one like ours before. Then, he worked for two hours trying to diagnose the problem. In the end, he just reset the whole system (turned it off/on, etc) and it worked (AFAIK) for about 12 hours and then the pilot when out again.

I'm mostly annoyed because we just wasted almost $200 on something that isn't fixed and isn't any closer to a diagnosis as the guy had no experience with our system. We regret not calling/checking with the manufacturer to find a service technician, but hoped that and competent guy would have some ideas as to what to do.

I also feel very awkward about asking for a refund because I used to work there and I'm not sure we're in the right. We plan to call the manufacturer to find the best technician next time, but should we ask for a full or partial refund? Should we try to get them to make up for it by coming out again (for free or for cheap), instead?
posted by ancient star to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Labor rates are for labor worked unless some guarantee is made (which is quite rare in appliance repair). He worked the hours, so he's owed the money. Your recourse is to not go back to the company for future repairs.
posted by saeculorum at 9:38 PM on June 28, 2016

Just call them and ask them to try again. You need to give them a chance to make it right. Of course they're coming back for free, say that up front.
posted by fixedgear at 3:29 AM on June 29, 2016 [6 favorites]

Yes, ask them to come again for free. I would not expect a refund, but it isn't unreasonable to ask them to come back and actually fix the problem.
posted by ssg at 7:24 AM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

Ask them to send a different tech, one who is more familiar with your particular system. When I was in Facilities Mgmt we didn't get a refund until after we'd given the vendor a chance or two to make it right. Then I put it back on them to admit that they couldn't fix it, and to suggest a refund as a show of goodwill to us. A professional company that values their reputation will do just that. If they don't suggest it themselves you can ask but likely won't get it. You could dispute it with your credit card company at that point if you wish.
posted by vignettist at 8:15 AM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Our recent furnace issue started with a repair by the assistant. The furnace worked for part of a day. The owner came every evening for 4 nights in a row and worked on troubleshooting the returning issue - it may have been a short that was repeating. He charged no fee beyond the initial labor and part fee from the first visit though I offered to write him a check for any additional invoice or parts. He made it right. I'm sure had there been major additional parts issues that he would have charged us again.
posted by RoadScholar at 11:06 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

« Older How can I rectify a needy relationship? I was the...   |   Evenings + a Morning in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale. What... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.