The following is a summary of the chain of events that eventually led to me discover that Cool Air USA stole over $2,200 from me between June 2010 and June 2011. I have tried to be as detailed as possible, while still being concise.
In June 2010, I called Cool Air USA about a freezing and leaking problem in my A/C unit at the High Points 55+ Community in Delray Beach where I have a condo that I rent out to a tenant. On June 16, 2010, Cool Air sent out a technician who immediately told me that my air handler needed to be replaced. They also suggested that I have a float switch installed to prevent further water damage to my condo. I agreed to that as well. The technician told me that the cost of the new handler would be $1,368.53.
On June 17, 2010, when Cool Air came to install the new air handler, I was told the job would take no
longer than an hour and a half; however, the repairmen that they sent out did not appear to be experienced, and it took them nine hours and several trips to Home Depot to install the unit. One day after the installation of the new handler, it began leaking again, causing more water damage to my condos walls and floors. This, despite the fact that I had requested the installation of a float switch (per Cool Airs suggestion) which was intended to detect leaks and shut down the system. On June 23, 2010, Cool Air sent someone out to diagnose the problem. When I inquired about the float switch, he informed me that it had never been installed. I had him install it then, which came at an additional charge of $138.03. It was on this day that I also noticed that the original installers had left electrical wires exposed, dangling in the closet where the new handler was installed. When I asked the technician to fix that unfinished work and obvious safety problem, he told me he couldnt fix it because didnt know how to. I explained to his that the install was incomplete, but he showed no regard for this discrepancy.
The A/C system continued to leak throughout July 2010 and August 2010. I called Cool Air to fix the problem. After several trips out, during which they had to adjust installation problems, repair a leak in the suction lines and add freon, the unit seemed to function properly during the conservative usage of the unit in the winter months. However, they never repaired the exposed electrical wires. And less than a year later, in April 2011, as soon as it began heating up outside, the system began freezing up and leaking again. This time I was told that the evaporator coil was dirty and that the system required 7 pounds of R22 freon. The cost of this repair was $698.03.
Two months later, in June 2011, I still had the same problem with my A/C unit. I called Cool Air again because I assumed they would try to discover why they had yet to uncover my problem. Without looking at the system, they told me over the phone that the leak was unrelated to any previous repairs, and that I would have to pay for any new repairs and that I would also have to pay for a service call to get a
technician out to my condo. After much back and forth, they eventually agreed to waive the service call fee.
On June 18, 2011, Cool Air sent out a repairman who told me that I now had a different leak, this time in the attic, and that they therefore would not warranty the work completed in April. I then spoke with Adam Mason, Cool Airs customer service agent, who sent out another repairman to investigate the problem. This repairman told me that the leak was somewhere in the condensing unit (and that
there wasnt a leak in the attic), and he said that the cost to temporarily seal that leak would be $400.
Since I had now invested over $2,200 in A/C repairs, but my A/C unit was still having the same exact symptoms (freezing up and leaking), I asked Adam to send me copies of all of the work orders detailing the problems with my system over the past year, so that I could try to determine why I was still having a leak. I was starting to wonder if I had ever needed a new handler in the first place, or had ever
needed the relatively new coils cleaned. In short, I was becoming suspicious of the ever-changing supposed reasons for my leak. Adam sent me copies of my invoices, which I already had, and which contain very little information. But, despite me asking him many times via email and over the phone, he would not send me any additional information, such as work orders explaining the alleged
problems with my unit. I tried in earnest to come up with a compromise with Adam, and asked him repeatedly to help me diagnose what had gone wrong, but he gave me no helpful information.
Frustrated, I called a well-respected local A/C company, Astro Air, to come inspect my unit. I simply told Astro Airs service representative that I had a leak in my system; I didnt mention my experience with Cool Air. On July 7, 2011, Astro Air came out to diagnose my leak. This is when things got interesting. Astro Airs repairman mentioned to me that my air handler was 6 years old and out warranty. He told me that the posted manufacture date on the unit was 2005. This was, of course, shocking, since I had just paid $1,368 to Cool Air one year ago for a new air handler! I also learned that not only was the handler I was sold used, it functioned using out-of-date, environmentally hazardous R22 freon.
Astro Airs repairman also told me other interesting news about my unit: the O-rings on the access valves to the condensing unit were missing entirely (an obvious and easy to fix problem that should have been noticed by Cool Air in April and June), the suction lines were leaking (which were supposedly repaired by Cool Air in August 2010), and I was low on freon. He also quoted me $120 for a full diagnostic leak check. I paid him $124 for the service call and for the freon, and I scheduled a follow-up electronic leak check.
I immediately contacted Adam at Cool Air and asked why I have a six-year-old, used air handler when I paid for a new unit just one year earlier. He fumbled and then followed up with an email that said that Cool Air never promised that the air handler they sold to me was new! Needless to say, I certainly would not have paid $1,368 for used equipment. Presumably, a used handler would have come at a
discount to me, along with a disclaimer that it was being sold as is. This was not the case. Cool Air had never offered me a used handler, and it was never discussed. If I had been offered a used, out-of-warranty handler, I certainly would have refused, unless perhaps it had been at a severe discount, and unless I had been fully informed about the history of the handler. Of course, my invoice for the handler mentions nothing about it being used, because I never agreed to buy a used handler, and was never offered a used handler!
I also asked Adam how his repairmen were able to diagnose where my leaks were and quote me a $400
repair without having done an electronic leak check. He responded that the $400 was actually for the leak check. In other words, the previous representations that Cool Air knew where the leaks were coming from (first the attic, then the condensing unit) were, at best, uninformed and inconsistent guesses, and, at worst, fabrications. I again asked Adam to work with me to come up with a solution to make me whole for the fraudulent sale of used merchandise and for Cool Airs obvious haphazard repairs and failure to diagnose basic problems with my unit (such as the missing O-rings that were leaking). He offered me nothing.
Astro Air came back out to conduct the leak check. They discovered a leak in the condensing unit, algae in the drain pan, damage to the fins on the evaporator coil and the coil itself, poor seals on the duct connection, and additional exposed electrical wires. (Remember, I had just paid Cool Air $698 two months
earlier for them to clean the evaporator coils which were now damaged and growing algae. Either this work was never actually done, or it was done incompletely.) The Astro Air technician also volunteered that the installation of the air handler looked butchered in his opinion and that it never would have passed inspection. I had Astro Air make all of the necessary repairs at a cost of $721. This brings my total out of pocket expense for A/C repairs to $3,049.56 in one years time!
I asked Astro Air for a quote to replace the entire system to one that would comply with current laws. The cost to replace the entire system with brand new, legally compliant equipment is about $2,500 - $3,500, about how much Ive invested in my used, out of date, poorly installed air handler.
Lastly, I have now learned that a permit was required for the installation of the new handler. To my knowledge, this permit was never pulled and the job was never inspected by the City of Delray Beach. I certainly would never have approved of such corners being cut, and Im outraged that the issue of permitting was never discussed with me either.
Needless to say, putting all of this information together paints a picture of Cool Airs work as unacceptably sloppy at the best, if not downright fraudulent. I tried to work out my issues directly with Cool Air. I simply wanted them to finally make the appropriate repairs without additional cost to me since I had already paid over $2,200 to them in the last year and continued to have the same problem again and again. It seems that I paid for a used handler, repairs that apparently were never made, and for obvious problems that were never diagnosed. After they continued to deny me such repairs, I asked Cool Air for a 50% refund
of my $2,200+ payments to them for this unacceptable and arguably fraudulent service. They refused, and did not even offer me a partial refund. Not one dollar in refund.
Finally, after I had already hired another company to make the appropriate repairs, Cool Air offered me repair service up to a value of $400, but obviously at this point I have learned that I would be foolish to allow them to touch my A/C unit again. I am reporting this incident to you, because I shudder to think how many others have been similarly ripped off by this company, especially older individuals living in this 55+ community.
I am normally not one to complain about anything. In fact, I have never once reported any company to any consumer protection group, and I have never filed a suit against anyone for any reason. And I was very patient with Cool Air over the last year, but this chain of events is entirely unacceptable and should not go unpunished.