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I need expert advise on dealing with an AC contractor. Here are the circs:

I was having problems with the upstairs AC not cooling my master bedroom. The contractor came and said it was due to the plenum being too small and the duct work also needed to be modified. I also asked if they could move my condensers to the side of my house from the backyard. The contractor gave me a separate price quote for each job. They moved the condensers and they seem to be working OK (even though they hooked them up wrong initially and froze one of the units). They installed a larger plenum, but the air was still not cooling the master bedroom. They also ran a large duct straight into my bedroom which seemed to direct more air into the bedroom, but it was still not cooling. They could not figure out the problem so they sent a second technician who said the coils in one of the units which is in front of the new plenum was plugged and, therefore the air was not being cooled. I called my home warranty folks who said that the coil would be covered under warranty. The warranty folks came out and said the coil was in fact defective and they replaced it. When they replaced it, they installed a new plenum the same size as my old one and said that it was the proper size (in fact it was attached to the coil housing as one piece).

The air conditioning contractor said they did what they said they would do and I owe them payment in full for the entire job. I think I owe them for the work in moving the condensers, but that I shouldn't have to pay for the plenum which was misdiagnosed by their service salesperson and ultimately removed. The contractor said they will place a lein on my property if I dont pay in full. Any advise? What should I do? Do I have any recourse?

PS: The warranty work fixed the problem and the air conditioner is working great.
 

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I see both sides of the fence on this one. Recently I had my car repaired... or attempted to be repaired. My only requirement was stop the battery from draining. They said this is the problem and this is what it will cost. So they did the repair and I paid them, but I see no change what so ever. Their attitude was we did what we said we would, and my response was that's not what I asked you to do and what you did didn't help my problem. Arguing with morons is an exercise in futility.

Now, since I am a contractor I know that when I do work I expect to be paid... especially if you have a SIGNED contract. If you have a signed contract you have to pay them, or they DO have legal rights.

If there is no signed contract, there is too much gray area for me to comment.
 

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Grumpy, does that apply if you lay the shingles upside down or put the felt on top of them? When I foul up, I eat it. If the guy sold and installed the wrong part it's not the customers fault.
As for your car the guy didn't fix the problem that you brought it in for. I'd give the guy another chance to make it right, just one mind you. A battery drain is not that difficult to fix.
 

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LOL if I lay a shingle upside down or put the felt on the wrong side of the shingle, I deserve to not be paid until the job is corrected...

HOWEVER! Diagnosing repair leaks can often times be guess work. This holds true for any trade, when you have to diagnose you are making educated guesses. Sometimes the problems is so obvious that your experience wins the day, sometimes you are just making educated guesses based on your experiences and knowledge of similiar problems.

I feel when it comes to repair type work, my work warranty is "the work I performed will be water tight." Not "This will fix your leak." Well sometimes that is my warranty, when I am 100% sure I found the problem; but let me ask this Teetor, how often do you get into diagnosis and repair work? I thought you were Primarily a new construction guy. I didn't know you got into the little stuff. The little stuff is the tricky stuff.

Teetor as far as the car goes, they want more money to fix it for the same reasons I listed above. They did what they said they were going to do. Is it a bastardization of our legal system? Yes. I'd have a very hard time finding a mechanic guaranteeing that "my work will fix your problem." LOL that's almost never the case.
 
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Thanks for the info Grumpy. I do have a contract. They did what they said they would do in the contract, but it still doesn't make sense to me that they can claim that the work will fix the problem and when it doesn't, they just say, "Oh well. I guess I was wrong...now pay me!" Does anyone know if I have any recourse? Or any suggestions in handling this? What happens when they put a lien on my property? I am not going anywhere for many years so should I be concerned? What can I do after the lien is placed?
 

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I don't think you have any recourse unless the contract says specifically it will fix your problem. HVAC guys and technicians in general come across this problem quite often I am sure, so I would highly doubt they would write something like that into their contracts.

Is it a crappy situation? Yes, but it's how our society operates from doctors to mechanics to lawyers... Why not contractors?

I'm not picking on you but when you go to the doctor and he/she diagnoses you wrong, do you feel upset that you wasted your time for two visits instead of one and had to suffer an extra week because he/she made a mistake? Most people I ask that question come up with the excuse "But the human body is complicated." To which I always respond, "So is your house." Heck the doctor goes to school for 8-10 years, he should make less mistakes!
 

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Au contraire Monsieur Grumpy, my primary business is remodeling and I never know what may be behind door or wall #2. Often DIYer's have been there before me and compromised supporting walls or done half a$$ed electrical or plumbing work.
Recently I had this part of my proposal and contract capitalized.
(the Contractor) can not and will not be held responsible for the presence of any fungi, algae, lichens, slime, mold, bacteria, wet or dry rot and any byproducts of these organisms however produced that may or may not be present now or at anytime in the unforeseeable future.
I didn't want to run the risk of someone missing it. Ya gots do do what ya gots to do. I doubt that many of you remember Jimmy Durante. 'Dat ain't no banana, dat's my nose'.
As far as diagnostics goes, I held the title of being the youngest OMC Master Tech. for over ten years. I aquired that title when I was 14, that would be 1965. I started Advanced Marine Systems in 1988 and still have to lead some of my guys through the troubleshooting process. BTW your average yacht has 220 and 110V AC systems plus 32, 24 and 12V DC systems. Cable runs can be as large as your leg and generally nothing is marked. It's really pretty simple if you know how to do it. Battery drains are pretty common and usually easily solved.
 

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But can we both agree that contractors are looked upon as having to know their trade with 100% accuracy, while lawyers get paid weather you win or lose? Doctors get paid weather you are healthy or die, even if your death is their mistake. Mechanics won't give you your car back until you pay them, weather they fixed the problem or not.

It's not fair that we, as consumers, have to pay for mistakes, but we do... and if someone is going to set the bar for owning up to their mistakes, don't you think it should be the lawyers who bill out $500 an hour and not contractors who bill at $50 an hour?
 

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Grumpy, you are right 100%. Doctors get sued so do mechanics.
If you are going to make it, you are going to have to insist on getting what you pay for.
You took your car in for a problem, paid for it and the problem still exsists, WHAT DID YOU PAY FOR? NOTHING, NADA, CAPICHE?
I don't care what everybody else does, if you paid to have a battery drain fixed, it should have been done.
 

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Being an HVAC contractor, I can see both sides of this. Many times, an issue of no heating/cooling to a room is simply solved by allowing more air flow to the room by replacing or adding some ducts. When you mentioned only paying for moving the units and not the plenum, are you also not wanting to pay for the additional duct(s) ran to your bedroom? You did mention that you did have more airflow as a result of it. See if you can reach an agreement as far as paying for the additional ductwork minus the plenum (sounds actually like the coil cabinet/case) since there is and will be a positive effect to the ductwork that was added.
 
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Thanks for all of your responses. I appreciate your analogies, Grumpy, however, I disagree with some of what you said. I don't hold doctors to a different standard. I simply expect to get what I paid for. If a doctor makes a mistake in his diagnosis, I will surely sue him/her. That is very common which is why malpractice insurance is so expensive. We common folk expect that when we turn to experts (whether doctors, lawyers, or contractors), they will make a reasonable diagnosis based on their expertise. If I had their expertise, I wouldn't need them in the first place. If I go to a doctor and tell him I have a pain in my chest and he cuts my little toe off and says that my toe was causing the problem, and I later learn that I was actually having a heart attack, don't you think he should be held responsible for his diagnosis?

I can accept a reasonable error in diagnosis, but not what I would consider "malpractice". In any case, I spoke to the owner of the company today and we agreed to take the price of the plenum ($100) and an additional labor cost of $250 off the original price. I think that was fair and we both are satisfied. I kinda feel bad for the owner because I know he lost money on this job based on the amount of time they spent here.

Thanks everyone for your advise. This board was very helpful and I thank you for all your opinions.
 
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HVAC DOC - I forgot to mention, I was satisfied with the duct work even though some of it was redone when the second contractor replaced the plenum that this contractor installed. I took that into consideration and paid for the duct work, the addition of dampers and the labor in the diagnostics performed by the contractor.
 

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Grumpy, My world works that way.
I'd go back to the guy and tell him that I brought my car in because the battery was going dead and it is still going dead. I paid $XXX for nothing and the credit card company has been notified. I don't care what you did, you did NOT fix the problem and I am willing to give you ONE more chance. When you repair it to my satisfaction I will call the CC company and tell them that the dispute has been resolved.
If the guy get ornery or refuses I would be on the sidewalk in front of his place first thing in the morning with a big sign that says "Bob's Auto Repair charged me for not fixing my car".
I actually did this once and made the mistake of getting some of my buddies to help out. They were able to arrest me for unlawful assembly, a $25.00 fine. I went to court and the judge threw it out. So if it gets to this, go by yourself. I later sued the guy and won that too.
 

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All these on and off topic discussion are exactly why the CONTRACT is so important, whether it is in writing or God forbid verbal. "Look Mr. Customer, from what I can tell I believe that what you probably have is this, I would recommend we do this to it, however, without you spending x amount of dollars for diagnostic surgery of me cutting through your expensive carpet and into your subflooring, there is a chance that once we get into this that there could be more that we find. Based on that, what would you like for me to do? Great, just as long as you understand I don't have a crystal ball and will do my best to fix your problem as best I can we will get along fine.
 
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