Two Employees, Two Prices, One Pissed Customer

air conditioning service technicianAnother day of story time with Grayson!  I wanted to share a little story about how a hot summer day, a broken A/C unit, and a company mixed to create a bad taste in my mouth.  Like many, I am a big fan of quality customer service.  I will give my business to any company that gives me a quality experience and service.  If you screw me, then I will do what I can to tell my friends online and off as well as not use your business!  So, grab a cup of your favorite beverage and sit back to listen to my horrible day.

 Oh, Summer Time

I don’t know if I have ever told you, but I am not a fan of summer.  I run on the hot side, so in the summer time, it become unbearable.  Summer is my least favorite season.  I prefer spring and fall.  I will even take winter over summer.  One of my favorite inventions is the air conditioner.  I don’t know how people live without it, but it is a necessity in our home.  My wife is the same way as me, so we both love air conditioning.  Even our son is very warm and sweats all of the time.  The sound of the air conditioner running is very soothing in our home.

So, now that you understand my love for air conditioning, here comes my story.  The summer time here in North Carolina gets hot.  It is not the dry hot like Arizona or New Mexico, but it is just down right humid.  It gets around 100 degrees and then it is so humid that you can’t even breathe outside.  Boo!

On one of the hotter days in the depth of summer, our air conditioner decided to crap out.  Oh great!  Now it is going to be so hot and unbearable.  Perfect.  It was in the morning, so it wasn’t too bad, but I needed to get on the phone and call my regular company that services my unit.  Well, they were all booked up dealing with the same issues that I was having.  Crap…..

It was Friday morning, so if we didn’t get it fixed that day, I would need to wait until Monday morning until another technician could come.  Instead of waiting, I decided to jump online and find another company.  I called around a few and was only able to find one to come and diagnose the problem.  Well, since that was my option, I took it.

Here comes the Boom!

The technician came pretty quickly, which was nice and I showed him where the AC unit was.  I gave him a quick rundown of what I was experiencing and he went right to work.  About 1o minutes later, he came down with the diagnosis.  The blower was broken and no longer functioning.   Of course, this was one of the more expensive parts that can be replaced.  This was also the time when I didn’t have an emergency fund.  I was working my way out of debt and didn’t think about the emergency fund.  Oops…..

Now onto the damage.  After some quick calculations, the technician said that it would cost me about $1,200 to get the blower and fix the unit.  Damn!  That is expensive.  Out of my haste to get this issue fixed, I reluctantly agreed.  The technician started to process the repair request and then went out to his van to check on the parts.  He didn’t have the blower in his van, so he would have to go get it.

**Stupid Move Alert:  I don’t know what I was thinking, but I paid for the whole shebang before he even completed the project.  What in the hell was I thinking??

Wait, What?

Luck would have it that the company didn’t have the blower in stock and wouldn’t be able to get it until Monday.  Are you freaking kidding me?  How does this happen to me?  What did I do wrong to cause these things to happen?

I called my work and asked to work from home so I could be around when the technician came.  So, my wife and I packed up our stuff and went over to my parents house for the weekend.  It was a nice weekend, especially in the sweltering heat.  Monday came around and I went back home.  The original technician was supposed to come in the morning to install the blower.

My doorbell rang and I expected to see the man I saw on Friday, but it was a different technician.  The new technician was very nice and courteous, so I didn’t have a problem with it.  He took one look at the service papers and just had a blank look on his face.  I immediately asked what was wrong.

Well, to my surprise, the technician looked at me and asked if the service was right because the price didn’t look right.  Wait, What?  This new technician was brutally honest, something that I really enjoy in people.  I told him what I needed, so he decided to go diagnose AC unit again to make sure the right part was ordered.  He spent  45 minutes checking the unit and asking me questions.  How thorough!

New Price/Same Company

After talking with me (I am starting to get upset because I realize that I might have been taken) and with his manager, the technician questioned the price that I was quoted and charged.  As he spoke with his manager to try to figure out the issue, I pulled open the blower box and found the part number.  I jumped online and started looking for prices, but it was very difficult since it wasn’t a consumer product.  With my investigation skills, I actually found the distributor for the company that I was using.

Pissed off customerI grabbed their phone number and gave them a call for a price quote.  They asked for my federal id #, but I just wanted to ballpark the number.  I asked for a price as if they were going to sell it to a consumer.  They quoted me $575 for the blower.  NOW I AM PISSED!!

I went outside to the new technician and started to ask him more questions.  We got to the point where he even showed me their price list for that product.  His price was lower than mine, obviously, but now I was unable to figure out where the original quote amount came from.  He even provided me with a quote that he would have given me.  Not only was I overcharged, but it was by quite a bit.  There was no calming me down now.  The technician apologized and said that he thinks the previous technician was overcharging in order to keep the commission.  Are you serious?

I asked to talk to his manager, so I could air my grievances.  He obliged and I was on the phone with the manager airing it all out.  I was not happy and the only way for me to deal with it was to get all of my money back.  I wasn’t going to pay anything.  I told the manager about the service that I received originally and how the first technician treated me.  Everything he did was unacceptable.  I also told the manager about how well the second technician treated me.  In the end, I was refunded my money, but not after some go around.

Important Lesson Learned

So friends, that is my crazy story, but it doesn’t end there.  I was actually able to call my original company and they came out the next day with the blower and put it in for about $500 less than the original quote.  I was pleased with their service and how quickly they did it.  All in all, I learned a very important lesson.  First, make sure you get multiple quotes for everything.  Even if you are in an emergency, make sure you jump online if you can and get some general pricing.  Second, don’t pay for a service before it is complete.  I normally wouldn’t do this, but I was not a fan of being without AC for the very hot weekend.

All of this was before I learned my money lessons from being in debt.  This service cost me money that I had to put on my credit card and that did not help the cause.  In the end of all of this, there were two different employees, two different prices, and one pissed customer.

So readers, what do you think about this story?  Before you call me names for not using my common sense, this was years ago before I turned my financial life around.  Do you have any crazy stories about a bad customer service experience?

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Grayson Bell

Grayson Bell

I'm a business owner, blogger, father, and husband. I used credit cards too much and found myself in over $75,000 in debt ($50,000 in just credit cards). I paid it off, started this blog, and my financial life has changed. I now talk about fighting debt and growing wealth here. I run a WordPress maintenance and support company, along with another blog. It is Empowered Shopper, which helps people get information about products they want to buy. You can also check out Eyes on the Dollar, which is a great blog that I co-own.


  1. May 17, 2013 at 7:18 am — Reply

    I think you know my story about bad customer service…Roto Rooter damn near ripped me off of $4k+ (and that was assuming I was liable for my sewer repair). Their quote of $7k was over $4k above what another ethical contractor quoted me. This contractor also made sure I was aware there was pending lawsuits against Roto Rooter for ripping people off intentionally on these types of repairs.

    • May 17, 2013 at 11:43 pm — Reply

      I certainly do DC. I don’t use that company because of the many horror stories that I read. I also won’t use them because of how they treated you. Unacceptable.

    • Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide
      May 17, 2013 at 11:47 pm — Reply

      WHOA. Wow. I learned a long time ago to avoid chains for ANY type of repair…but that’s insane.

  2. May 17, 2013 at 7:37 am — Reply

    Wow, that sucks….to say the least. Having grown up in Richmond, VA I can understand that humidity. I hear people complain about humidity here in Omaha and they just do not know. I too hate the summer and for much of the same reasons. Our issue was last summer when our AC crapped out as well. It cost us about $500 and then the tech gave us some & dance that our entire furnace needed replaced…uh what?! We had someone come do the regular maintenance on the furnace this winter (he was a recommendation from a good friend) and it turns out the furnace is just fine. The original guy was just trying to scam us into a new furnace.

    • May 17, 2013 at 11:42 pm — Reply

      Yes, you do know what I am talking about. You don’t know about it until you have experienced it.

      Glad you didn’t get screwed over, but I can see how this might work on many. I don’t know a lot about A/C work, so it is not something I can do on my own. If there is a car issue, then I am fine, but HVAC is harder to deal with.

    • Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide
      May 18, 2013 at 1:02 am — Reply

      Ouch. I’ve had tradesmen give me the “hey, there, little lady” treatment a couple of times, but fortunately, I know enough that the scammers decide really quickly that I’m a poor mark–I talk enough “shop” that they realize that I either know my stuff or will research it.

      For the most part, though, I’ve dealt with excellent, scrupulous tradesmen.

  3. May 17, 2013 at 7:41 am — Reply

    I think everyone has at least one horror story when it comes to customer service. We had some people come to install data cable in our house, normally I would have done it myself, but I had recently injured my back and really couldn’t be bothered potentially aggravating it further and so we hired a group to do the work.

    I figured we would pay around $250 for the whole thing. A bit of Cat 5 cable and a few wall plates. Simple right?

    Well the guys that came to do it knew nothing about data cable and normally worked on phone lines. The ran a phone cable through our roof and couldn’t understand why my RJ45 cable wouldn’t fit into the socket.
    When I came down to see what was going I I told them they had used the wrong face plate. Then I got a look at the cable and informed them they had used the wrong one.

    Long story short – they had to re run it, but they wanted to charge me for the time and the used telephone cable. I flat out refused to pay and I had a yelling match with the main guy. I didn’t pay and the next day the manager phoned me threatening legal proceedings. I explained how incompetent his staff were and why I wasn’t paying and it seems that he wasn’t given the full story, because after that I got charged a much smaller amount and my business with them was done.

    Needless to say I will never use them again…

    • May 17, 2013 at 11:41 pm — Reply

      Good story Glen. I wouldn’t have paid them either because they didn’t do the intended job. We shouldn’t pay for incomplete or incorrect jobs and ones that are not done to our satisfaction.

  4. May 17, 2013 at 8:37 am — Reply

    well that is weird! the same guys within the same company should have the same commission so quote customers the same… I have had a girl in a store tell me “let me ask my colleague what is the price FOR YOU” so I asked why the price would be different for specific people (maybe namely foreigners) but she ignored me and came back with a probably inflated price. That is really annoying when people think you are stupid.

    • May 17, 2013 at 11:40 pm — Reply

      Yeah, they have the same commission, but I assume it is percentage based. The first guy would have received more money due to the higher bill. It just makes me mad that this was within the same company.

  5. May 17, 2013 at 9:18 am — Reply

    I think it’s awesome that at least the second guy was honest. I’m glad you reported it to his manager, because when somebody does a good thing it’s nice to be recognized. I’m glad there’s a happy ending but sometimes, there’s not!

    • May 17, 2013 at 11:39 pm — Reply

      I think the second gentleman got in trouble because he showed me too much information. The first guy was probably praised for billing such a large amount. Isn’t that how the corporate world works anyway?

      • Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide
        May 18, 2013 at 1:05 am — Reply

        Not people who want to STAY in business. People who want to STAY in business make sure you feel like you’ve been given fabulous treatment.

        Notice how many times all the good tradesmen brush their feet at your door, even if your house is messy. 🙂 They want to show you that they’ll treat your house even better than you will.

        • May 18, 2013 at 8:10 am — Reply

          You are correct there Jenny. If you want to stay in business, then you make sure that your customers are taken care of. I have had a few service men come to my door and either take off their shoes or pull them off. Very courteous.

  6. May 17, 2013 at 11:14 am — Reply

    Wow, you should move to Colorado. It’s never humid and we rarely have to use our air conditioning:) I’ve been taken a few times, usually when I pay too soon. We did a remodel of our office several years ago. It was really dated with peach paint and popcorn ceilings. The kicker was, I could not afford to shut down, so I found a company that was willing to start Friday afternoon and work all weekend to have it ready by Monday morning. It wasn’t like I got a quote and changed the rules. Up front, they knew they would have to do 5 days work in 3 days, and we agreed to pay for it. On Sunday night, they weren’t done with some of the finish work, but we decided it was OK to have them come in later in the week and we’d be alright for business even it the trim wasn’t attached and the finish work was incomplete. The foreman asked if I would go ahead and pay for the job so he could compensate his crew for working through the weekend. I agreed. Big mistake. They never came back, despite many calls, and we had to finish the work ourselves that we’d paid for already! Needless to say, I still tell everyone I know not to use them. I’m not even sure they are still in business, but I will never pay for a job before it’s complete.

    • May 17, 2013 at 11:38 pm — Reply

      My wife and I have aspirations to move to Colorado one day. We are nature lovers and think that state is beautiful. I don’t mind the heat there either. It is not so much the heat here, but the humidity.

      Sorry to hear about your experience and I never understood why some companies think it is OK to screw their customers over like that, especially in this day and age. I can easily tarnish your reputation with a few clicks of my mouse.

  7. May 17, 2013 at 11:29 am — Reply

    Sad but true that you have to be this careful about these types of repairs and who you trust. On my rental house, when I was using a property management company, they tried to tell me I needed a new blower for my furnace. I said no and when I dumped the property management company and recruited a technician from a friend, he adjusted the blower that was there and the tenant had no issues. Went from a potential $500 to a $70 maintenance call. This is how we live and learn!

    • May 17, 2013 at 11:35 pm — Reply

      Every experience is a learning experience, so we just have to use it and grow.

  8. May 17, 2013 at 12:53 pm — Reply

    A/C units never go out when you do not need them and it is usually in the middle of a heatwave. I usually stick with repair people I know and trust. It removes at least some of the shadiness to repairs.

    • May 17, 2013 at 11:35 pm — Reply

      Yeah, I would have done that, but they were extremely busy with other A/C units all going out all over town. It was a big heatwave that knocked out a lot of people’s units. I make sure to stick to companies that treat me well.

  9. Jake Erickson
    May 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm — Reply

    Wow, that is a pretty crazy story. Luckily, I haven’t had anything major where we’ve gotten ripped off before, but we did get our whole kitchen redone last summer. We made sure to get 5 quotes and compare them all. It was amazing the price differential for essentially the same product. I learned that I should always get multiple quotes from that experience.

    • May 17, 2013 at 11:33 pm — Reply

      Yeah, I make sure to get competing quotes from different companies now. You are right about there being such a difference in prices for the same job. You have to be skeptical of some of the quotes you receive.

  10. May 17, 2013 at 1:17 pm — Reply

    Wow. That’s a disturbing story and I hope that first repairman got fired, since he was essentially stealing. We don’t have A/C. Most days we’re fine, but there are always a few days where I wish we did. But the cost to instill compared to the frequency of use, is really cost prohibitive in my mind. So we grin and bear.

    • May 17, 2013 at 11:32 pm — Reply

      I don’t even know if I could survive here without one. We also have a window unit in our room because our main one is too small for the house. We save money by using the window unit.

  11. May 17, 2013 at 1:24 pm — Reply

    That is a crazy story Grayson! I have had plenty of stories like that when i was not financially savvy, so no judgment here. Have a great weekend!

    • May 17, 2013 at 11:31 pm — Reply

      Thanks Deacon, I hope you have a great weekend as well.

    May 17, 2013 at 4:12 pm — Reply

    I actually have also had my units blower motor replaced in the last year along with another repair at a different time. I used a very highly rated company were I live called Texas Air Conditioning Specialists and was nothing but pleased both times. I had a new blower motor installed for $550.00 and a few days ago had a part replaced that was $209.00 installed. I know very little about A/C repair but the techs that came out were both forthcoming with what they were doing and didn’t seem interested in up selling anything. I hope the unit will now last me a few more years without needing new repairs.

    • May 17, 2013 at 11:29 pm — Reply

      Glad you had a good experience with the company you used. I really have a great experience with my usual company, but they couldn’t help me for the emergency call, so I had to look elsewhere.

  13. thepotatohead
    May 17, 2013 at 8:26 pm — Reply

    It definitely pays to shop around. When I was looking for a second key for my Prius I called around to all of the local Toyota dealers. Two of them were in the same price range of around $350 for the key and syncing it to the car, the third one was way out in left field with a quote of almost $450…Almost $100 more for the same OEM Toyota key…yea right buddy, not going for that. Even if the person your dealing with seems trustworthy, it’s often worth it to check for yourself.

    • May 17, 2013 at 11:31 pm — Reply

      Yeah, I don’t make those mistakes anymore. Lesson learned.

  14. Mr. Bonner
    May 18, 2013 at 1:27 am — Reply

    It takes some experience in this type of situation to know you’re getting screwed. You’ll be better prepared next time now. Most would have probably learned the lessons (NEVER pay in full up front and get multiple quotes) and moved on, but it’s good you stuck up for yourself and got the refund so this lesson didn’t cost such a crazy amount.

    • May 18, 2013 at 8:13 am — Reply

      Thanks for stopping by Mr. Bonner. I don’t take getting screwed over lightly, so I will make sure that I make a big enough stink in order to make a lasting impression.

  15. May 18, 2013 at 8:04 am — Reply

    Crap mate, that sucks! One thing I’ve learned actually two as a homeowner is 1- do my homework and 2- Don’t pay until the work is done. That would have pissed me off too and I’d be dealing with head office or a manager about it. For $1200 you probably could have gotten a new A/C over here just with no warranty depending on how big your house is. Any time commission is involved.. it can get shady with some greedy people. Glad to hear you got your money back mate.

    • May 18, 2013 at 8:12 am — Reply

      I have learned my lesson Mr. CBB! I wish I could get a new unit for $1200, but you wouldn’t be close where I live for that amount.

  16. May 18, 2013 at 5:23 pm — Reply

    Grayson, you did right in standing for a full refund, and you learned you lesson, so no harm done (whew!). I am the same way. We just had an incident involved one of Maddie’s newly published books, and after flexing some muscle, they gave us a full refund on our order, and replaced the entire order with correctly printed books as well. I love it when a company goes all out to repair the relationship as well as the mistake.

    • May 20, 2013 at 9:52 am — Reply

      Thanks Laurie. That company left a bad taste in my mouth and I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone. I usually give a company one chance and if they treat me like this, then they are no longer on my list.

  17. May 21, 2013 at 4:30 pm — Reply

    This post serves as a great reminder for all of us. Unfortunately, the bad service reps give the good ones a bad name. I always try to go with personally recommended companies that have been around for a long time. But it is still easy to get burnt if not careful.

    • May 21, 2013 at 9:44 pm — Reply

      Thanks Kyle. You are right about the bad reps always ruining it for the good ones.

  18. May 21, 2013 at 5:27 pm — Reply

    Grayson, good investigative work. I hope that first guy doesn’t have a job any more cause that is Bush-League!! Glad to see you got the AC fired up again!

    • May 21, 2013 at 9:45 pm — Reply

      Thanks Jim. I don’t know if he still has a job, but I know the second guy does. He actually lives in my neighborhood.

  19. March 19, 2015 at 4:43 am — Reply

    My hubby is an HVAC guy and he’s seen every crook under the sun. He tries to educate every customer about their units and how to not get into that desperation mindset in the future. We’ve all had that about various things. He has had to clean up a lot of bad workmanship, not to mention people’s mistrust of contractors. I know I don’t care for summer either, and we just moved to Florida from upstate New York. Go figure.

    • March 19, 2015 at 10:35 am — Reply

      I learned a lot from that experience. Now, when dealing with anything HVAC, I make sure to do some due diligence and make sure I’m getting what I pay for. It sounds like your husband is a good guy and someone I wouldn’t mind dealing with!

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