The Real Cost Of Going Cheap

The Real Cost of Going Cheap

It is a daily occurrence… “Well, this guy was a couple hundred dollars cheaper so we went with them.”  I cringe every time I get that response. Unfortunately, I know that the homeowner will likely be calling back once the job is completed because something was done incorrectly and either that company won’t warranty the work or is no longer around to warranty the work.

HVAC system installed outside of yellow home

In a booming economy, everyone wants to “be their own boss” which is great. The problem is, you get a lot of uneducated “business owners” who do not know how to set prices properly to account for the unforeseen issues that always arise. We are all human and mistakes get made so we have to account for the human element. When owners undersell their products and services, the result is that corners end up getting cut to save time or money.  The problem is that the homeowner is who gets stuck footing the bill.

Take example 1.  We quoted an add on humidifier system for a client. We educated the client on the reason we don’t sell the “cheap” bypass humidifier option in our climate because of the hard water we experience. We warned them that in less than a year, the product would be junk and they would have to replace it. Three weeks later, I get a call from the client saying, “We went with someone cheaper and it appears they didn’t install the unit correctly. Can you help us?” So for about $500 less, they got an inferior product that they now had to pay someone to come in and fix costing more money than it would have to install the original system we had proposed.

Example 2 is something I hear all too often. This company is willing to install the same AC for a couple hundred dollars cheaper. But are they really? Many AC bids that I see are very vague. What unit are you actually getting?  Does it have a compressor blanket? What is the SEER rating?  Are they providing your electrical connections by a licensed electrician or are they just having an inexperienced HVAC tech do it which is illegal?  What kind of warranty is included?  Are they including a tune-up of your existing furnace system? How about filters?  Those things don’t take long to add up to a couple hundred dollars worth of benefit so make sure you are truly comparing apples to apples. We started offering a comparable price match guarantee and we found that many companies are cutting corners just to be the cheapest bid.

Example 3 is the one that scares me as a consumer. The fly by the night contractor. In this industry, anyone can run an HVAC company out of a storage unit and a cargo van. While that isn’t a bad thing, it makes it very easy for operations to come and go.  We recently serviced a unit that had been improperly installed by a one-man contractor who was no longer in business.  Buying from a company may cost you a little more than the one-man shop who has less overhead, but the chances of that company being around to service your system for the long haul and warranty any issues is much greater.  Nearly all HVAC companies in the area are small, family-owned and operated businesses so choosing a company that has roots in the community will help ensure that you are taken care of for years to come.

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