Disadvantage of Taking Advantage

Written by BG Howard

May 8, 2024

When considering all the injustices that transpire in today’s increasingly difficult society, one would prefer to believe it’s something that happens far from home.  Unfortunately, circumstance delivered an ugly dose of reality to my neighborhood weeks ago.

Since not having heard from an elderly neighbor for more than a week, the decision was made to give Ms. Hanser a call just to check on her.  Oddly enough, the usually docile neighbor who lives on the street one block to the south of me seemed out of sorts.  When questioned about the issue, she pointed out having received an estimate from a very well-known air conditioning contractor three days earlier that had left her nearly in shock.

Ms. Hanser, a widow who lives with her daughter, explained the air conditioning company had been out for the purpose of conducting a “regular maintenance” on her central air system.  While there, she reported, the technician had abruptly stopped working prior to stating his need to contact the office and have someone sent to “check the status” of a couple things that seemed out of order.

The day following visitation from the first technician, the neighbor informed, two more of the contractor’s agents arrived and proceeded to “go through” the house extensively while documenting concerns with the current system.  By the time they’d finished the “complimentary” assessment, Ms. Hanser was convinced she needed a new air conditioning system installed to include an outside condenser and air handler (the unit inside the house) at a cost of $5,560.00.  Additionally, the company mandated the need for and quoted a price to have two crews for two days completely remove and replace the existing duct work (which showed no physical damage) at a cost of another $6,580.00 for a grand total of $12, 140.00.

Considering the fact Ms. Hanser is an elderly widow who lives on a fixed income comprised of a social security check and her late husband’s pension, it’s no wonder she almost keeled over.  The distress in her voice made the seriousness of the concern even more urgent so a call was placed to the owner, Mr. Lek Djoka, of Cool R Us, Inc.  This is another air conditioning company that had previously performed work for me and a couple other people.

Being that it was Sunday afternoon, when dialing the number for the purpose of recording a voice mail requesting a call back it was surprising to have the owner answer.  As much of a surprise was the realization that Mr. Lek actually referred to me by name.  When speaking with the company owner, I briefed him as to the circumstances being faced by the neighbor.  I noted the need for an honest assessment of the overall situation and Mr. Lek personally assured that he’d meet me at the neighbor’s house at 10:00 am the next day.

The Cool R Us company owner arrived on site at Ms. Hanser’s house promptly at 10:00a Monday morning and proceeded to thoroughly test the entire air conditioning system.  After nearly two hours, Mr. Lek advised my neighbor that she definitely didn’t require new ductwork.  He suggested one of the valves on the compressor, or exterior unit, appeared to be defective, provided her a quote and stated the part would have to be ordered.

On Wednesday of the same week, two days later, Mr. Avi with Cool R Us arrived at Ms. Hanser’s house by 11:00a to spend an hour and-a-half installing the replacement valve.  He also tested the system to be certain there weren’t any other issues that might be cause for concern or result in other problems.

When his work was certifiably completed, Mr. Avi presented Ms. Hanser with an invoice totaling only three percent of what she’d expected to pay for the “repair” of her unit.  An unfortunate situation is manifested when supposedly trustworthy entities prey on the unsuspecting, innocent, and unlearned.  In the case where there are no “checks and balances” available to would be victims, they essentially get screwed.  However, in this specific instance, there exists the process of filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau to call attention to the issue.  I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.

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