LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Air conditioning has always been a must-have in Las Vegas, demonstrated by 110+ degree temperatures continuing through early September, which means HVAC companies have always had a heavy workload on their plates.
Workers at Bob’s Repair have sounded the alarm, however, that underhanded business tactics have been rising since the beginning of the pandemic to overcharge customers looking to have their systems thoroughly cleaned.
“It’s literally the oldest trick in the book,” said manager JC Pauli.
Pauli said the trick begins when companies offer shockingly cheap rates for a cleaning.
“Great, $5 a vent, we’ll clean your whole house for $75 dollars.”
Pauli said the company will then flip the script when they arrive, claim the problem is much worse than expected, and jack the price up hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
“All of the sudden you’ve got mold in your vents,” he said, “bacteria that you didn’t know about, or there’s this, 15 different products that you didn’t need or else your whole family is going to die .”
Pauli said the targets are generally gullible older people who don’t know standard market rates or how the process is completed.
“Insider secret, your vents are always dirty,” he said. “You take it down and say look Ms. Jones. Look at all the bacteria. They mark it down. There’s all kind of tricks they do.”
Pauli said duct cleanings on most three to five bedroom homes should take between two to four hours and cost between four and seven hundred dollars.
Bob’s Repair owner Fred Prandecki said a lot of work goes into the process.
“We’re going to seal up every single duct,” Prandecki said while holding onto a duct cleaning machine. “We’re going to attach this to our return creating negative air pressure pulling out all the dust and particles, and after that we’re going to take a different machine and clean out every single air duct.”
His fear was that similar scams could become more common as temperatures drop, people switch on their heaters, and begin to smell their dirty ducts heat up.
Pauli said customers should always make sure their technician is licensed through the state of Nevada and certified through the National Air Duct Cleaning Association.
He added that, if a customer is ever unsure about the deal they’re getting, a second opinion on a cleaning is never a bad idea.