McConnors corner
Homeowners Beware!
By Sean McConnor
Aug 17, 2008 - 2:18:33 PM

Recently, I had to have some workmen out to my place in the suburbs of LA to repair the air conditioner, some electrical items, and, more recently, the plumbing. Being a novice homeowner, I had to learn how to deal with workmen by attending the school of "hard knocks."  Maybe I should share with you some things that I learned and paid for (with dollars). I don't want anyone else to pay like I have!

First, it was the air conditioning. Okay, I called the home warranty people. When you buy a new or used place, you usually get one as a parting gift from the previous owner. In my case, they covered everything but the air conditioning, even though I have central air (which is cooling and heat). Okay, so I call the A/C (air conditioning) guy.

First guy comes out, determines it is the condenser pump. He doesn't check the unit on the roof. He doesn't happen to have a pump. Fine. I call back later in the week, but he is busy with the family and can't come out and install a new pump. Scratch this guy.

The next A/C company sends a nice guy I will call John. John checks the roof and installs the new pump. When the pump kicks off,  he doesn't know what to do, so he calls his boss. (Is it a bad sign when the workman doesn't know what he is doing?) John gets the pump and everything working. Next day, the unit fails and the company sends a guy I will call Ralph who climbs on the roof, fixes the pump, and changes the breaker. Ralph leaves and the unit works, but, would you know after $1,500, the A/C breaks down again!

I call the A/C and they send Raul (not real name) out. Raul spends a couple of hours doing everything. He tells me with authority that this unit is going to last me a while unlike Ralph who said I need a new $25,000 A/C.  I asked Raul how many guys work for his company. He said six: two are certified techs and the others just workers. So, I said, what was John? He was an apprentice. (Gulp, on my part.)  Okay, who was Ralph? Oh, he is salesman. (Gulp, again, which explains why he was trying to sell me something.) So, what are you, Raul? Well, he said  he was the certified tech who has gone to school to learn his trade. (Why didn't the company send Raul in the first place and not afterward to do damage control?)

I guess the moral of this story is to inquire of the company you have called to repair a toilet, a light fixture, or an A/C, who are they sending to do the work? Is it just a new guy just learning his trade or is it a certified tech? You pay top dollar for both, so you should get the most experienced. If you don't ask, don't say I didn't tell you so.

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