Better Business Bureau: Choosing an A/C contractor without getting burned

By Alan Bligh

With temperatures hovering in the 100s, going without air conditioning during a Texas summer is not a favorable option. However, rushing to find an A/C contractor can burn a hole in your wallet instead of keeping you cool. Some of the most common mistakes consumers make when looking for an A/C contractor is hiring the first contractor they find, not doing the proper research and not getting all the details of their service repair in writing. If you are need of an A/C repair or just following through on a recommended check-up, BBB recommends the following when looking for an A/C contractor:

Research company background and licensing. Visit www.BBB.org for the Business Review of any A/C service company you plan to hire to learn more about its reputation and history of complaints. Ask if the company and its employees are licensed and insured.

Compare prices and service packages. Get at least three estimates for any air conditioning repair or maintenance work. All bids should be in writing and should provide a full description of the services to be provided and the materials to be used.

Review warranty coverage. Find out if the company offers any type of warranty or guarantee and make certain you understand the terms and conditions of the coverage. Also, be sure to check the warranty on your current air conditioning unit to determine whether any repairs or replacements may be covered.

Ask about energy efficiency. Many new air conditioning units are manufactured to be significantly more energy efficient than others, which often qualifies them as tax deductions.

Special note: It is a good idea to have your A/C inspected regularly during the winter so you are not surprised with a breakdown during the summer, which will undoubtedly cost you more. It's also a good move because you will then be a "regular" customer of the A/C company, which puts you at the top of their list when you need help.

Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by email at abligh@corpuschristi.bbb.org.