How Not To Sell Me Your Fancy HVAC System

We have to replace our furnace/ac.  The  AC is dead as a doornail, both are over 20 or 25 yrs old and horribly inefficient. So we’ve been getting quotes. Got two that came in at $6500 and $6800 for 3 ton 100,000 BTU 95% efficient 14.5 SEER variable flow and all that jazz. Third dude came today and did a long presentation after having measured all sorts of shit and went on about importance of proper installation, bla bla, explained all sorts of bla-di-bla about the equipment, how their employees are carefully screened and drug tested and they don’t allow any convicts to work for them because in prison they teach convicts plumbing and HVAC and here’s a picture of brown dudes in prison uniforms studying to come rape and kill your wife in your own home under the guise of installing your new furnace and ac, and you can get a heat pump too to further reduce costs, and bla bla more tech stuff, and voila! four options for your consideration, good, better, best, wow, ranging from $11k to $16k.

And I said, “WTF?”

But wait, don’t answer yet, there are rebates, and we can take this and that off, and discounts, and I can come down on price, and so on, and now the four options range from just under $9k to $11k or something like that.

And I said, “dude, you might want to rethink that one part of your sales pitch where you subtly scare me about the brown prison dudes coming into my house.”

And he said, “well, yes, but Ashton Kutcher’s ex-girlfriend was killed by an ex-con, and there are white guys in that photo too.”

I do not think we will be buying the fancy expensive heat pump furnace from this dude with the laminated pictures of scary brown men in prison uniforms studying earnestly to come rape and kill me in my own home.

  1. July 20, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    I particularly like the part where he actually came back at it, to ‘splain it to you, after you made a pretty clear signal that you found it offensive.

    • Zuska
      July 20, 2010 at 7:27 pm

      Yes, because I didn’t understand the DANGER! And that it’s not racist because they had a white d00d in the pic, if you look hard. He just wanted to terrorize me, then explain how I could feel safer. It was helpful.

  2. July 20, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    gosh forbid we actually give ex-cons the opportunity to earn a living have a chance of being a productive member of society. Why bother teaching plumbing and HVAC then????

  3. Kea
    July 20, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I must say, it was a very efficient way to be heinously racist and sexist in the same breath. Better than mouthing off about some brown woman, because that would not be threatening you in any way. The disturbing thing is that this guy still has a job … his tactics must work well with many people.

  4. DerelictHat
    July 20, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Oh no, brown and served time in prison? Clearly just non-people then! I’m impressed he made it out alive.

  5. Zuska
    July 20, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    The delicious thing is there will apparently be a follow up phone call to see how the sales call went, at which time I will get a further chance to vent my spleen about the racist sales pitch!!!

    The sales pitch also included this phrase “we believe in second chances and all [just not at our company] but we screen all our employees bla bla bla see this pic of scary brown convict dudes bla bla”.

  6. July 20, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    WTF is that shit anyway? Is he trying to sell you an AC unit or some pre-packaged fear of brown ex-cons? If he’s confused about his product maybe he shouldn’t be selling it in the first place. Or if the unit is so bad that it needs some kind of sideshow campaign to scare the wimminfolk to move it out of the warehouse, it’s probably not any good. Silly him – he thought the ladies wouldn’t see through that? Because they’re all sort of stupid and ruled solely by their fear of being raped in their own home by HVAC technicians. You should totally post the transcript of your spleen-venting call.

    • Zuska
      July 20, 2010 at 11:12 pm

      I also mentioned to him that I did not think his sales pitch would be extremely popular with people of color. He was not convinced.

    • Zuska
      July 20, 2010 at 11:14 pm

      And his bright idea was maybe to tape something over the photo so as not to visually offend, while retaining the basic verbal sales pitch.

  7. Teaspoon
    July 20, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Wow, so the hot new sales pitch for Summer 2010 turns out to be “Boogedy boogedy boo!”

    Who’d a-thunk it?

  8. Vicki
    July 21, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Yes, it costs an extra $4000 if you push us, eight if you don’t, but we’ll throw in scare tactics!

  9. July 21, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Received a similar pitch from a coupla companies when we were shopping for windows last year. They must be teaching it at sales seminars these days.

    Anyway, turned out that the criminally minded didn’t need to go to the trouble of posing as contractors to break into my house and steal my shit; I left one of our brand new windows open (alley side) about a week after installation, and some enterprising local rogues accepted the invitation. Tidy burglars, though, I’ll give them that.

  10. veganrampage
    July 21, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Can’t wait ’til you set them straight with that follow up phone call. This has got to be illegal, but since racism is so endemic, I doubt the “authorities” will give a shit. Maybe the state AG, since it is an election year? Local news station might do a story on it. I’ve gotten little satisfaction through the years with these types of situations.
    I’ve heard more racist remarks from people of all colors in the last few years than I have in my whole life. Ill.

  11. Zeroth
    July 21, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Veganrampa, I doubt its illegal, or that it should be. Its detestable, but you can’t sacrifice free speech to control offensive speech. Offensive speech inevitably, is expanded to include stuff the government dislikes, not just stuff that IS patently offensive.

    If it was illegal, Fox news would have been punished long ago.

    In Canada, we have some different standards, and several news organizations have been unfairly silenced for making statements that the muslim defense association decided to complain about. There were no courts involved, only a non-elected commission. *sighs*

    Take for example this incident, where just running the danish cartoons subjected the magazine to a two year, $100,000 ordeal:

  12. July 22, 2010 at 2:26 am

    I wonder if he switches his tactics depending on the neighborhood he is in.
    Business makes people so damn scummy.

  13. July 22, 2010 at 3:26 am

    Here in inland SoCal the racist pitch contractors make is usually “no illegals” – of course in contrast to “real American” white people.

  14. isisthescientist
    July 22, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    The fact that he still does it tells you it works with some folks. That’s the unfortunate part.

  15. Zuska
    July 23, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Isis is sadly right.

    Unrelated note: I’m sorry peoples’ names are getting cut off by the comment boxes. Will try to figure out how to fix that.

  16. July 23, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    What is so very obnoxious about that, is that there are a lot of crooks who have never gone to prison – and a lot of them work in the building trades.

    Having employed a lot of day laborers, I also have to say that one of the very best people I worked with was an ex-con. He wasn’t particularly skilled, but he did what he was asked, worked his ass off and probably wouldn’t have complained if I asked him to move a pile of manure a foot to the left. Oddly enough, he was probably the only person I employed who could actually pass a drug test. But of course if I drug tested, I would have had to fire myself – not to mention a woman who could work with tile like you wouldn’t believe.

    Here in inland SoCal the racist pitch contractors make is usually “no illegals” – of course in contrast to “real American” white people.

    Which is also really sad. I have worked with a lot of Hispanic people and every one of them had as good, or a better work ethic than any white person I have worked with – including myself.

  17. theshortearedowl
    July 23, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Maybe you already saw this, but if you bump that up to 15 SEER, 12.5 EER, 8.5 HSPF heat pump (or 16 SEER 13 EER AC) with your 95% efficient furnace with variable-speed fan you can get the $1500 Energy Star tax credit this year.

  18. July 23, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    I think I quoted some of the specs wrong. We are getting a 16 SEER system and it will qualify for the tax credit. Not sure yet if we will get a heat pump. Electric utility is going to be deregulated next year and it is going to be a tradeoff between electric and gas costs. Heat pump will add $800 to $1600 to cost of the system, we’ve been told. Will take some time to recoup costs and we may not be in the house that long…tho I would love to have the heat pump.

    • July 23, 2010 at 6:40 pm

      Heat pumps are handy dandy, but if you aren’t going to stay in the house it isn’t worth it – except as a principled efficiency. Unfortunately, they don’t tend to add enough value to the sale of a house, to cover the cost. Though if you can get it at the lower end, it may be worth it – especially if you can get a decent tax credit.

  19. theshortearedowl
    July 23, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    The heat pump unit itself should only be $400-500 more than an AC; there is some extra wiring involved (outside and inside temperature probes), but $1600? No way. Plus it works for more months of the year than an AC, which means that investment is not sitting around doing nothing, and also less time that the compressor sits building up condensation and freezing. But yeah, cost-benefit does depend on the price of electricity and the length of time you have it…

    Oh, and btw:

    • July 24, 2010 at 12:25 am

      Thanks for the tips. And the link to that article, which is great. Indeed, we have got to let go of this punishing ex-offenders over and over and over again for the rest of their lives. Either the prison sentence is sufficient or it is not…and apparently, it is not, ever, in some peoples’ minds.

  20. July 23, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    DuWayne :
    Which is also really sad. I have worked with a lot of Hispanic people and every one of them had as good, or a better work ethic than any white person I have worked with – including myself.


  21. Quercki
    August 4, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    That sort of sales pitch OUGHT to be illegal, even if it isn’t.

  22. October 8, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Oh my… That’s ridiculous (and I’m only laughing a tiny bit, and just on the inside)!

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  24. kf1
    November 5, 2011 at 11:46 am

    i am writing a paper on ethics in the hvac industry ,my research have led me to this page. Such good insights for my paper tks

  25. December 15, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    All of you people have missed the point regarding what a system should cost. First i started in the business in 1981. A 8 SEER three ton, 78% FAU, and coil change out was $3000 back then and the equipment warranty was only 5 years. So now after 31 years and 338% inflation a system still costs $3000, non heat pump. Lets get real, top was $10 an hour in 1981 and now is $35. Gas and a Big Mac was a dollar. So everthing has gone up but HVAC? For three grand. Think! What kind of system, installation and contractor are you getting? A system today at 13 SEER minimun and 80% FAU should be $12,000 with inflation. People are sooo stupid and think that their pay should go up, but nothing else should. Wrong. You either get junk or quality. No in between anymore. Also the racist guy was correct in measuring the air ducts and heat load calcs. He did know what he was doing there. HVAC is so much more than changing boxes. Go to ACCA and learn about mahuel D, J and D. Contractors that charge $15000 know what the’re doing and provide the best overall long term benefits.
    When getting bids, get off of price and brand, so dumb of a focus. Get into the contractor, a proper installation and take the contractors advice. Most contractors have no value and sell on price and most people are stupid and buy on price. Why would the average person buy a car and lose $20000 on the car in 6-8 years, but not put in a quality HVAC system from a quality contractor? because the’re stupid. Quit researching brands and research the contactor and why a proper installation is more important than brand, efficiency and warranty. Now go do your Google research and plan on realizing if you already installed a HVAC system and bought on price you got screwed.

  26. January 17, 2013 at 12:35 am

    Thanks for your effort for writing “How Not To Sell Me Your Fancy
    HVAC System Thus Spake Zuska”. I personallywill certainly be back for a great deal more
    reading through and commenting here soon. Thanks,

  27. January 23, 2013 at 2:12 am

    “How Not To Sell Me Your Fancy HVAC System Thus Spake Zuska” genuinely makes myself contemplate a somewhat further.
    I personally treasured each and every individual part of it.

    Thanks for your effort ,Bridgette

  28. June 26, 2013 at 8:39 am

    I prefer to repair HVAC equipment, first. But sometimes a replacement worth much less money !

  29. John
    June 27, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    So the argument is that if you grossly overpay for a good or service you somehow are “supporting the trade”. Example, I pay $12,000 for a system that has a fair market value of say $8,000. The reason being is because of the tradesmen doing the work are so skilled at bending sheet metal and brazing copper pipe. With that argument the $4000 difference would be split between 2 skilled HVAC installers working 2, 8 hour work days meticulously installing your system. Now by the logic that you are paying extra for the skilled tradesman one would think that each of these installers should be making over $250/hour, right? But they are not! So where did the extra $4,000 you overpaid really go? Did it disappear into the mysterious skilled HVAC fund? I think the HVAC CEO that is sipping mai tai’s on his yacht might be the only one who really knows.

  30. September 30, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Absolutely. Would be depending on any situation. If a HVAC system too old, probably replacement is the best option.

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