Action 9 exposes air conditioning repair hustles

Updated:

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Action 9 exposes how calling the wrong air conditioning repair company could burn a hole in a consumer’s pocket.

Consumer investigator Todd Ulrich put three local air conditioning companies to a hidden camera test and found routine maintenance that turned into a $1,000 repair hustle.

On hidden camera, Action 9 watched a technician performing routine maintenance. The man told the homeowner that he found mold in his air conditioning system and to expect big trouble.

“He was really instilling fear that if I didn't do something I was going to be sick,” said homeowner Kay Stelling.

The technican from Service Star Air Conditioning, told Stelling that she needed a UV light treatment system to kill mold and that the best unit for her system cost $1,000.     

“Hey Joe, Todd Ulrich from Channel 9. I think many A/C experts would have a big problem with what you just did,” Ulrich said.

The man started to walk away as Ulrich asked how the Service Star technician found mold.

“Can you tell me how you found mold? Do you have a state license?” asked Ulrich.   

“My company does and I'm certified,” said Joe while heading back to his car.

Action 9 couldn't find any mold assessment license for Service Star or its technican.

Action 9 Tests:

Action 9 tested three air conditioning repair companies based on complaint histories.

Sean Willboughby, an air conditioning repair expert with 4 Seasons Air Conditioning, inspected Stelling’s home and said nothing was wrong with her system.

A technican from Honest AC found a problem.

“He said you needed a couple of pounds of Freon. That's what your problem is,” said the volunteer. The cost for Freon was $108.

“This unit's low on Freon?” asked Ulrich. 

“A little bit,” replied the technician.

“I think you were here to run up the bill,” said Ulrich.  

“Yeah,” said the technician. 

Ulrich replied, “We'd like you to stop.”

Overcharging could cause real problems.

According to our expert, all three companies failed to perform the routine maintenance Action 9 requested.

No one changed the air filter and no one cleaned the drain line, which is a tune-up basic.

“Make sure you don't have water leaks. Water damage could be catastrophic,” said Willoughby.

The Honest AC owner said Action 9 stopped the technician before he could finish the tuneup, and his company did nothing wrong.    

Service Star's owner did not respond to Action 9’s questions.     

If a routine maintenance call turns into a big bill, get a second estimate. Also, be wary of some companies using mold as a reason to sell you expensive mold treatment. Chances are they're not licensed to do so.