How Do I Find A Trustworthy AC Repair Near Me?
How Do I Find Trustworthy AC Repair Near Me?
When you own a home in Phoenix, AZ air conditioning is a necessity not a luxury. So when you need AC repair, you want it fast but you also want to pay a fair price and know that the service technician is competent and honest.
Air conditioning companies and manufacturers alike put out tons of great information about how to choose the right HVAC Contractor and what to look for when it comes to getting a new air conditioner installed, but what about when you need AC repair or service and you don’t have a lot of time to shop around?
Similar to auto mechanics, homeowners are leery of air conditioning technicians the companies they work for because like car engines; heating & cooling equipment is complicated and the average person doesn’t know too much about it or what makes it work.
Everyone remembers in the classic movie Back To The Future, when Doc Brown needed a flux capacitor to get back to 1985 because as he stated; “it’s what make time travel possible”, but there’s no such thing as a flux capacitor right? Actually, there really is such a thing as a capacitor in an air conditioner, in fact there are several, and there are both run capacitors and start capacitors…neither of which enable time travel by the way!
The capacitor or cap, as we call them in the HVAC business, is a perfect example of a critical component that can fail and cause your air conditioner to stop cooling your home. This is actually a very common repair in Arizona because today’s capacitors aren’t built like they used to be and they don’t do well in the heat (which we could write a whole other article about). This failure is so common in fact, that all of Magic Touch Mechanical’s service trucks are stocked with dozens of them in different types and sizes…and they don’t stay very long before they are used to repair a broken AC unit.
Unless you’ve had this repair done before, you might think the service technician is pulling your leg when he tells you that you need the same part that makes a DeLorean travel through the space-time continuum!
To make matters more confusing, your HVAC System (HVAC is the abbreviation for heating, ventilation, & air conditioning) is a fairly complex machine that consist of dozens of electrical components like this, not to mention a complex refrigerant system, and an air movement system, which is then connected to the air duct system, which is then connected to the hip-bone, which is then…just kidding, just testing to see if you’re still reading. Hopefully there are no hip-bones in your AC unit, and if so you have bigger problems than this article can help you with!
So unless you want to spend about $32,500 to attend HVAC trade school, another $10-12,000 in tools, several years working for a contractor to get your skills up, and then even more obtaining licenses, certifications, training, bonding, insurance and so on…you need to hire someone to come get the job done. So where do you start?
Since we’ve already established that the service technician will probably be speaking what may as well be Greek to you (if you speak Greek, replace with a language you don’t understand), it all starts with trust. You have to trust that not only is the technician good at what he does, but also that he’s honest and ethical, and is going to treat you fairly by not gouging your bank account!
The best way to guarantee that, is by vetting the company that the technician works for. If you’ve ever heard the old adage “the fish rots (or stinks) from the head”, you know it’s a way of saying that the leadership is to blame for the actions of their people. In other words, if the employee is a crook, the boss is probably a crook as well. Disclaimer: Of course there is a possibility that a new employee is not of the same caliber or void of the values of the management or ownership of a company, and just hasn’t been caught yet, but generally speaking a company with high ethical standards and fair practices is going to attract like-minded people.
So start with checking out the reputation and consumer reviews of the air conditioning company itself.
- Are they in good standing with the AZ Registrar of Contractors (or other licensing bureau for our readers not in Arizona)?
- Are they A+ rated by the Better Business Bureau? (Note: A company does not have to be an “Accredited Business” to have a high rating with the BBB)
- Do they have an A rating on Angie’s List? (Do they have a lot of reviews?)
- Do they have a 5-Star Rating on Kudzu.com and Facebook?
Verify the company is well established and professional. You don’t want to be stuck if something isn’t done right or if the company is no longer in business if a repair fails under warranty.
- How long have they been in business? Don’t fall for statements like “20 years’ experience” or “Providing quality service in Arizona for 50 years”. Check when their license was issued on the AZ Registrar of Contractors website or with the AZ Corporation Commission (or similar authority if not in AZ)
- Google their business address. Is it an actual commercial building or do they operate out of their home…or worse, does the address pull up a picture of a vacant lot (yes, that really happens).
- Do they have a professional website? Social media pages?
- Are they listed on manufacturer websites and “Dealer Locaters”? If so are they major brands like; Lennox, American Standard / Trane, Goodman, Mitsubishi, etc. or is it a name you’ve never heard of?
- Do they have marked vehicles? Uniformed employees? (Look at pictures on their website).
Next call the company.
- Do you get a live person or an answering machine?
- If it’s after-hours, do they have a live answering service taking calls so you can still talk to a human being or does it go to an answering machine?
- If someone answers the phone, are they professional and identify the company you are calling?
- Do they sound organized and prepared to schedule an appointment?
You’ve scheduled a call now what?
- Look outside, did the technician show up in the marked vehicle you saw on the website?
- Did the technician arrive in a work truck with a ladder rack or is it a family mini-van?
- Is the technician in a company uniform or a Van Halen t-shirt?
- Is the technician presentable?
- Did he or she put on shoe covers or wipe their shoes off before entering your home?
Assuming we’ve gotten this far (things are looking pretty promising) what now?
- Did the tech ask you for some information about what they are here for and tell you a little about what to expect?
- Do they have a tool bag, refrigerant gauges, testing equipment – like amp meters and thermometers?
- Do they spend a fair amount of time checking out your air conditioning or heating units?
Yes, yes, yes – now we’re looking really good so here are the final tests.
- After completing the diagnosis, did the technician explain what he/she found and present repair options with the total prices BEFORE making any repairs? This is called flat-rate or upfront pricing and is very important. You want to know how much it will cost before you authorize the service tech to proceed, as opposed to what is known as “time & material” which means the technician charges you whatever his hourly rate is times the amount of time it took…what if he’s just slow?
If all of this sounds like your experience, congratulations, it sounds like you found yourself a trustworthy company who is going to fix the problem properly and treat you fairly! Heck, it sounds like you skipped even reading this article and just called Magic Touch Mechanical.
But wait we’re not done quite yet!
You did all of this work and it sounds like you found a great company, so you need to know a few things to make sure you can continue to get great service, quick scheduling when you need them, and a fair price (even if you need a repair on a Sunday or 115-degree summer day when air conditioning companies are booked solid for weeks in advance).
Here’s what to do and what not to do:
- DO – consider enrolling in a membership club that provides discounts, guaranteed service within 24-hours, priority scheduling, and other member benefits. After all, if you own a home A/C and Heating System…it’s inevitable you will continue to need a good HVAC Company to maintain, clean and sometimes repair it.
- DO – refer them to friends and family. They have to be profitable and successful in order to stay in business to be there for you when you need them.
- DO – pay it forward and write an online review or two for the next people searching. Post reviews on the same websites you relied on in the vetting process. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I give clients that write positive reviews, and refer people to Magic Touch preferential treatment, wouldn’t you?
- DO – call the company back if you are not satisfied for some reason. Allow them the opportunity to make it right if something did go wrong, or at least explain why things are done the way they are if something doesn’t make sense to you. They may not know you’re displeased and will probably go out of their way to change that.
- DON’T – start calling around town to see how much cheaper you could’ve gotten it done for (There’s a great saying in the contracting business that helps explain why: “You can always find people to do work cheaper…and probably for less money too!) In other words, it costs more money to provide great service than it does to cut corners, use cheap parts, or employ unqualified people.
- DON’T – complain about the price after approving the work. Remember that technician earlier gave you the total price upfront before proceeding with the repairs? That is the time to decline proceeding with the repair if you are not comfortable with it, or your budget doesn’t allow it.
A lot of people are tempted to search the internet for the price of parts and then calculate how long the technician was there and assume “the rest” goes in the company’s pocket. Or they associate anything above parts cost with “labor”. A common question we hear is “How much do you charge per hour?” The reason we don’t charge per hour is we use flat-rate up-front pricing. That way our customers always know how much the total will be beforehand…in other words the company absorbs the risk of the technician moving slower than the time the job should take, not the customer.
Many people don’t realize the overhead expenses beyond the cost of goods sold and labor costs that a company pays in order to consistently deliver their customers world class service. Even business owners who have an intimate understanding of all of their own overhead expenses may not realize all the expense items of a different industry. I own several businesses, and I eat every day (several times a day on a good day), but I don’t claim to know what the overhead expenses of the restaurants I eat in or the grocery stores I shop in are. In fact, each one is different. Two pizza places can have entirely different monthly expenses. For example, one pizza place may have a high end brick oven and use a better cheese than the other. The one who is paying more to deliver a better product to their customer naturally has to charge a little more per slice…or do they? What if the pizza place with the better cheese saves a ton of money using wood in the brick oven and the other one is using natural gas at a higher cost? The moral of the story is; there’s a lot more expenses than “labor” and “parts” (in this example the parts would be the ingredients) involved that us the end consumer sees.
Flat-rate or Up-Front Pricing:
Everyone knows how much it costs to go to the grocery store and buy eggs, bacon, butter, and a loaf of bread. Then when you go out to breakfast you see the menu price for one portion is more than you could feed an entire family for. Do you think the restaurant is making 5x their costs? The truth is, the reason most businesses go out of business within a few years is they fail to become profitable, let alone the owners becoming rich! This is especially true in the service industry which has higher failure rates than most other industries. A restaurant is a great example for this “DON’T”.
You know the price before you place your order right? Would you eat your meal and then complain about the price, or ask to speak with a manager and complain because you know how much the ingredients cost? Of course you wouldn’t! By the way, if you answered yes, I have a new “DON’T for you…DON’T go to restaurants.
This is no different than hiring a contractor to complete a job when you knew the price upfront. If you don’t agree with the price, simply decline and let the technician move on to take care of his next customer on the schedule that day…because there are plenty of us who are willing to pay for good service and convenience.
Depending on the size of the air conditioning company, it may cost as much as $100,000 a month (more for large companies) to “keep the lights on” so to speak. Aside from the cost of the part and labor for your job keep in mind the following overhead costs:
- Vehicles – insurance, fuel costs, maintenance, lettering or wraps, tool bins, trailers, ladder racks, and so on. Keep in mind these vehicles are making house-calls and probably accumulate 2-4 times the mileage you put on your personal vehicle.
- Inventory – a quality air conditioning contracting company may stock as much as $30,000 in parts to provide you with fast service when you need a repair part – remember those capacitors we mentioned earlier that were on the truck and “delivered to your door”?
- Warranties – did the company provide a one-year warranty for both the parts and the labor of the repair they just made? Trade secret: Most of those parts only come with a 30-day warranty from the manufacturer, your contractor is covering the costs of replacement parts plus the additional labor and everything associated with it (all the overhead again) if that part fails.
- Tools – a good company will provide tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of tools (times as many vehicles as they operate) to make sure you receive an accurate diagnosis. At Magic Touch Mechanical, we not only supply all the large tools and equipment, we also pay for 50% of the technicians tools so they have the most updated technology to work on the high-tech equipment on the market today.
- Technician Training – air conditioning technology is changing and becoming more complex every day just as computers, automobiles and other appliances are. Even technicians with twenty years of experience need to receive ongoing training to diagnose and repair your ac unit correctly the first time.
- Support staff – remember that nice Customer Service Representative that answered your phone call and helped to get you an appointment that was convenient for you?
What you probably don’t know is usually another person then took over (a dispatcher or service coordinator) to make sure the appropriate technician for the type of work required was the one to arrive.
A lead technician may have even given a second opinion over the phone to the technician at your home, much like the team in a hospital, each specializing in their own area of expertise will work together to assure a correct diagnosis and corrective plan of action to make you well again.
Finally, a service manager reviewed the technician’s checklist, diagnosis, measurements and parts used to make sure your repair was accurate and there won’t be future issues you weren’t aware of.
This list could go on and on, including the actual electric bill that “keeps the lights on”, but by now (if you’re still reading), you can probably think of many more I haven’t mentioned here.
So, now that you know how to find a trustworthy AC Company nearby, there is one last “DO” for you to do! DO – Call Magic Touch Mechanical if you want a company that meets all of the criteria we just spoke about in this article.
Magic Touch provides products and services from Apache Junction to Anthem (East-West) and from Rio Verde to Sun Lakes (North-South). Our main office is located in Mesa, AZ at 942. W. 1st Ave. and we have technicians located throughout Maricopa County including, Peoria, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Tempe, Chandler and even Queen Creek
Magic Touch Mechanical was founded almost twenty years ago in 1997 by Rich Morgan as a Home Energy Efficiency and Energy Audit Company and has been a licensed air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration company for 16-years (since 1999).
In 2013, Magic Touch was named the best HVAC contractor in the USA, winning the illustrious National Residential Contractor of the Year Award from the ACCA (Air Conditioning Contractors of America), the oldest and largest HVAC Association in North America.
If it has to do with the comfort, efficiency, air quality, or health & safety of a residential home or commercial building, we can help! Our services include energy efficiency audits, duct leak testing and sealing, attic insulation, solar shade screens (sun screens), fireplace repair and remodeling, HVAC installation and repair, and more!
Give us a call today, e-mail us, or fill out an online service request by visiting our website www.AirConditioningArizona.com