• Report: #4549

Complaint Review: United Air Comfort

  • Submitted: Mon, February 26, 2001
  • Updated: Tue, November 11, 2003

  • Reported By:Tempe Arizona
United Air Comfort
Riverside-San Bernardino, California U.S.A.

United Air Comfort Air Duct Cleaning Rip-off

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: ex employee working hard to make a living

*Consumer Comment: Dont believe anything we say

*Consumer Comment: My son just took a job with this company yesterday.

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Make no mistake, if you contract United to clean your duct system your ducts will not get cleaned! But your pockets may..

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Generally true although not all employees are corrupt

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: $29.95 Tune Up, to a $1500.00 Restoration Service

*UPDATE Employee: some of it is true. some of the techs do bad jobs or rip people off

*REBUTTAL Individual responds: Ripped off for work not done

*Consumer Suggestion: Get Quotes and Referances

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Agreement to John and Hubert letters

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: agreement to hubert's letter

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: It's all True but Worse

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I saw the ad for Air Duct Cleaning Whole House for only $57 The guy came out took off a couple of covers on the compressor and the Furnace. He then stuck a vacuum Hose in one register, (not even sealed around) and claimed it cleaned all the ducts. He said the compressor and furnace ducts needed cleaning and Lubrication he gave us a "Deal" for only $424.00!!

Later that month I had to replace my compressor motor, the serviceman said that nothing inside had been cleaned, or oiled. Steer Clear of This crooked company! I found out too late, that they had many complaints against them already!

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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 02/26/2001 12:00 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/United-Air-Comfort/Riverside-San-Bernardino-California/United-Air-Comfort-Air-Duct-Cleaning-Rip-off-4549. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 UPDATE EX-employee responds

ex employee working hard to make a living

AUTHOR: Thomas - (U.S.A.)

i have worked for united for a year and in that year i have seen alot of people come and go so the turn over is hi i learned the job and learned it well ive have been asked to rip people off but wont my customers like me and i tell them what they need and they do it just like anyone that comes to your house they beleive in your abbillity to do the job so if the turnover is high the knowledge is low you only get 3 days of training and then you are sent on your own to help people with there problems until you know the job its hard to know what the problems are i learned fast what to look for im not saying this is a good company to work for but DONT WORK FOR THEM
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#2 Consumer Comment

Dont believe anything we say

AUTHOR: Neale - (U.S.A.)

I also saw the ad in the paper $800 a week, Hourly, Commission, plus Gas. And that was all true for about two weeks. They get you in the interview with promises of $10 per hour plus 10% commission on sales per day of $300-400, and 15% for anything above that. They offer you $2.50 for every house you go to as a gas payment for you. But what they don't tell you is that if someone messed the job up before you, you will get no money for that job, and it can be 50 miles away or more and you get no gas. I have been the two months and have not gotten a correct paycheck yet.

I have disputed the checks, and had proof and I always get the run around. Since I started they have changed the pay scale three times. First $10 plus commission 10-15%, then back to 5.15 plus 25% commission, then just straight commission at 25% and no gas.

The fact is they not only lie to the customers, but to the employees too. Which in a way makes us rip off people so that we can make a few dollars. We all do not lie to every customer every time but, we do what we have to do. Yes almost every house has duct leaks, but some are not to bad. Yes coils need to be cleaned to prevent air flow restrictions, but if you are considering paying $150 for it, take a few minutes to look at it yourself and make that assumption. If it is bad get it done it will save you money and wear and tear on the system. Yes the negative does work, but very little. If your is bad enough call one of the more expensive, more honest companies. And like you should always do follow around the tech, ask questions, and be weary of high bills with many added parts, if you need that many parts get a second opinion. Remember our whole objective is to make you buy things so that we ourselves can buy things.

If you are thinking about getting this job, only do it until you pass the E.P.A test or you will dig yourself a grave that is hard to get out of. But at least you will have the E.P.A. card to hold on to, just make sure it is in your hands when you leave
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#3 Consumer Comment

My son just took a job with this company yesterday.

AUTHOR: Mary - (U.S.A.)

Something just didn't seem right here and after reading these messages from other people it is exactly what he's telling me. He doesn't make an hourly wage, he only gets 25% of each job completed and 10% if he sells a unit which is $4000.00, he has to use his own vehicle, buy a cell phone, tools and clothes. They make there money from selling. I checked with the BBB and Registrar of Contractors and they have several complaints against them. DOESN'T LOOK TO BE A HONEST COMPANY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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#4 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Make no mistake, if you contract United to clean your duct system your ducts will not get cleaned! But your pockets may..

AUTHOR: Wayne - (U.S.A.)

I worked at United for four weeks and in that amount of time I gathered enough information to know that its not a company an honest person wants to associate with. Its certianly not the kind of company an informed consumer should allow themselves to fall victim to; Let me educate you..

Company motto: If a tech leaves your home with less than $200.00 of yours they did something wrong.

If a tech fails to convince you to let them sanitize your entire duct system at a cost of between $5.00 and $10.00 per vent they did something wrong.

sanitizer sales pitch: Kills Mold,Mildew,Germs, Bacteria,Dust Mites,and some viruses and prevents the regrowth of these things for a period of up to one year.

Sanitizer Fact: Kills Odors,Inhibits Mold Growth.

Here are some facts about there duct cleaning process; Create a "vacume" at one vent using a "negative air machine" and then forcing air through the duct system using an electric blower.This is supposed to force all debri out of the duct system through the machine. Real result: Laughable! If some of the homeowners took the time to inspect their ducts at the vents after the process was complete they would see its a waste of time and money. United's equipment cannot do the job. If you have debri in your duct system United cant help you!

United may try to sell you an electrostatic air filter for $95.00:A high quality air filter is a good idea for a number of reasons but $95.00 is pretty steep,shop around.The word "Electrostatic"
means the filter creates a charge to help it trap smaller particles in the air. The problem is the filter wont create a sufficient charge if the humidity around it is greater than 50%. (average humidity inside a Florida home 65%)

Ductleaks at ventboxes (fire boxes,cans,boots)
When the United tech starts taking the vent covers down they may point out to you that the builder forgot to seal the vent boxes to the cealing in your home. This can lead to energy loss,insect problems,and debri entering your home. At least thats what they have been trained to tell you,and thats not all,they say new building code mandates that all new homes have the vent boxes "properly sealed". The tech can seal your entire home for $200.00. Waddaya say?

Ventbox fact: when you screw the vent cover (register,difuser) to the ventbox you create the seal,your smashing the box, the dry wall,and the cover together. nothing can get through.

Building code fact: There is no new code reguarding the seals around ventboxes.

This is just the tip of the iceberg I may send more soon..
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#5 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Generally true although not all employees are corrupt

AUTHOR: George - (U.S.A.)

This feedback page regarding United Comfort also reflects on my experience as an employee of United. I, too, had come across the ad but in no way could I approach the making of the money that was promised. This has been the job with the lowest time/pay ratio for me. I was attracted to the ad because I was out of work in my own field and was looking for another one; in the mean time I thought about doing this.

I concur with all of the above statements of former employees. I, however, wanted to add a couple of things. Like everywhere, there are well-meaning people and ill-meaning or unskilled people for what they do. United has a bunch of the former kind but more of the latter. The reason is that the owner of the company has figured out a business plan that has worked to his advantage so far, and the company has been expanding rampantly. Just like another person put it, "greed". So, they can't keep good employees and keep expanding like that simply because it takes a lot of resources to hire the appropriate person, who will be trusted with company tools, van, formal training, and a good pay. I felt like a slave in that company and I am not afraid of work. I don't mind sweating and working my butt off, like I did in that company too. But that went too far.

The owner (Mark) supervises, and interjects into the training sessions, and in those sessions the spirit of higher sales is very-very prevalent. He, in fact, is the slave driver. His managers and employees are afraid of him.

One day he lashed out over the video-conferencing TV about some little stupid thing that an employee did; like not wearing his company hat while in the shop watching this training session. He called him, and then all of us, untold names and epithets, that I could not write on this page, something that completely disheartened me and made me disgusted at the kind of a person I was working for. He is the most ruthless, greediest, dirtiest, and rudest boss I have ever seen; he is a menace and he runs the company by fear.

From my perspective, I have always respected the customers, and they respected me and the company as an extension of that. I never had trouble with people thinking that were getting ripped off. I always did my job thoroughly and that's why sometimes I didn't get home until 10 at night or later, after having awakened at 5 am. We had a questionnaire to ask the customers every time, and I did that. But on top of that, my question was "Are you satisfied with what you got today"? I wouldn't leave a home without hearing the magic words, and if I didn't, I made d**n sure that I had a plan of action to make the customer happy. The company doesn't want to rip people off, it just comes across that way because any company that charges 30 bucks for a tune-up has to have something in mind, because you can't make money like that. I have had plenty of $30 visits to homes.

Unavoidably they will propose a duct cleaning (which most homes need) or a HVAC unit cleaning, electrostatic filter, mastic seals etc. It's amazing how people neglect their systems and what I have found in AC units and ducts that people breathe constantly as air re-circulates.

They are all good things for a home to have done, some people just don't think they are a priority for them. So, to be fair, and like all things, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

They provided unlimited support to me for whatever I needed to do my job, I had a great manager (Hi John!), and learned a lot of things, with plenty of encouragement and opportunities to learn more.

The customers shouldn't really be that alarmed, the company does good work for much less than others. They should just be inquisitive, demand a thorough explanation of everything, and be open-eyed. And the $57 coupon, if you read it, says that this price is for the first 7 vents. If you want to clean you ducts, you must treat them all, not only 7. So, that's where the extra money comes in.

I hope this helps. Good luck all!
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#6 UPDATE EX-employee responds

$29.95 Tune Up, to a $1500.00 Restoration Service

AUTHOR: Chad - (U.S.A.)

Much to my embarrassment, I need to write this, more or less to clear my conciense. I started with United in February of 2001, knowing nothing about HVAC service. Like the other stories you have heard from past employees, I was nieve to their ad that I could make $1000 a week with no prior experience.

I was an employee for United until September of 2001. By that time I was the Assistant Manager of the so called, "shop".

Throughout this time, my wife kept asking me how is work, is it kosher or what?? The whole idea to her sounded a little "shady".

But, I guess I didn't want to face the fact, that I was ripping people off of their hard earned money. One customer I recall especially, had a system that was approximately 5 years old.

She had called because the unit quit on her. Well, as usual, any call for a system that wasn't running, or no heat or no cooling, I always seemed to get those jobs. Let me explain why, number one, I didn't question my manager, or tech support, I told them what was wrong with the unit, that I could fix it for approximately $135.00, OOOOOOOOOHHHHH NNNNOOOOOOO said United, that can't be fixed, she has to buy a new unit.

O.k., I said, blindly, so I work my magic, and sell this poor old woman, who really could not afford it, a whole new system for $4000.00, when she could of had hers fixed for $135.00. This is only one example of many people that I have taken advantage of, and for this, I cannot appologize to them enough. Anyone considering using United's services, please don't, you WILL regret it.

I had a very bad motorcycle accident in September of 2001, which as a result, I could not work for four months. During this time of rehabilitation, I began thinking of all the innocent people whom I have robbed, and I simply could not face myself in the mirror.

I have started with another A/C company who is honest, and reliable, the difference in the two is night and day. Before you have any service done to anything in your home, research the company in question, you will be glad if you do.
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#7 UPDATE Employee

some of it is true. some of the techs do bad jobs or rip people off

AUTHOR: Kevin - (U.S.A.)

i have worked for united air comfort for a year
now. alot of the stuff people are putting down is false. some of it is true. some of the techs do bad jobs or rip people off. in my shop we have 16 techs and only 2 or 3 do that. we are taught to listen to the customer and fix there problems as best as they can.

i dont think about the money because it comes anyway. i bet none of you knew that 90% of duct systems leak. i come for the duct cleaning and i do it and do it right. if i find problems i inform the custumer and thats it. if the care engough about it they will do somthing about it. if not i have other jobs to go to.

i understand your guys problems with people showing up to fix what they screwd up but you have to inderstand 15-20 techs and 50-60 jobs a day some times its hard to get to every house. when i get to a custumers house and there mad for waiting 2 or 4 hours i call these people in flordia that tells us are jobs and i b*t*h them out for it. there will always be bad techs in the world but that is not everyone.
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#8 REBUTTAL Individual responds

Ripped off for work not done

AUTHOR: Lee - (U.S.A.)

I wish I'd read this site before being charged over $100. for a $45. duct cleaning job. The fellow who came out works for United Air Comfort, after "tuning up" the furnace he left and the furnace would not work, no heat, and it was cold.

I called the company, one of several numbers, was repeatedly put on hold, transfered to numbers that didn't connect, and told be various people that someone would "be right out to fix the problem." There's a 14 month old baby in the house, it's winter, and the heat (that worked before the work was done, was no longer working after United Air Comfort completed thier cleaning and "tune up."

After several phone calls, and nobody showing up, it was 7PM. I finaly reached someone again with the company and he said "Of course no one is there now, it's after closeing. Someone should be out in the morning." I told the man I would put a stop payment on the check, since obviously the furnace tune up did not tune up anything, and did more harm than good. This was confirmed when I called another, more reliable, company, who sent someone out right away.

The second complany man was able to identify the problem with no heat, The "on" switch was disconnected, and the mercury in the thermostate had been moved to it's side, on another note non-funtioning filters (wires were clearly broken) had been replaced in the furnace-this didn't keep it from working, but does illustrate a problem with vision, understanding the system at least.
The situation I have with United Air Comfort is not yet resolved.

I hope to take them to court for the check I put stop payment to, and the costs of having another company come out and fix what their company left in a non-working, a system that worked before they worked on it. I've not done anything like that before, but am more than willing to follow through with this after the shabby way we were treated.

Thanks for letting me vent.
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#9 Consumer Suggestion

Get Quotes and Referances

AUTHOR: Howard - (U.S.A.)

As in any type of service that you need for your home or business it is always necessary to get quotes for any type of service work. In the quote tell them that you want a complete breakdown of what is being done and for how much.

Get a minimum of three quotes. I would not get more than six unless you are not satisfied.

As part of the quote make sure that clean up is included.

In addition, in order for the quote to be accepted they must give you three referances. One good referance, one that is in the middle, and one that is a complaint. What you want to find out is how they handle problems and difficult situations.

Ask for business referances too. Name of their bank and contact there along with companies that they do business with. If you know someone that can run a Dun and Bradstreet look at how they are paying their bills, are they on time, etc.

Check via the internet and consult Hoover's (they have a website and most libraries have the hard cover book on businesses in your area besides nationwide.

Ask them to provide you with a Certificate of Insurance for Workmans Comp and Liability Insurance, and call the agency up to verify that the policies are active and current.

Ask them for a copy of their licenses and those of their employees (if required by the state). Then check with the state to make sure that these licenses are valid. Do not take their word for it.

Do not always take the lowest quote. Make sure that every quote you can do a comparison apple to apples. If you can't then ask questions and revisions.

Do not tell any vendor what was quoted by their competitors. That is against the law and is considered unethical. You can tell them that they are competitive, that they are in the ballpark, or within a certain percentage.

Use Excel or similar spreadsheet to do your comparisons on the quote.

If you need further help please post your questions and comments below. I am a Certified Purchasing Manager.
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#10 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Agreement to John and Hubert letters

AUTHOR: Ian - (U.S.A.)

Also John and Hubert didn't mention that the $400 dollar part that United Air and Comfort just replaced is either a used one or a $35 part. Also the mastic seals that they do for $25 can be done for about $10 by youself.

on how much to give you ]

If your dryer isn't drying your clothes in 1 load, don't call them to clean out your dry tube, that will run you $60 if you have a shop vac with a electric leaf blower use that. The classes in the morning are not even classes they have you sit down and pick a video on how to repair this or fix that. Another problem is you have to buy all your own tools and pay for every mistake you make on a job. Not even mentioning that if you get a new contract with a business or person you are supposed to get 50% commsion, well I found out the hard way, who ever does the first job there gets the bonus not the individual who got the contract. Also I was informed that I could make between $1000 - $1500, I barely took home $200 per week. This company is a rip off leave it alone and get real professionals to do it. They also give you the answers to the EPA exam if you ask for them so you can get certified.
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#11 UPDATE EX-employee responds

agreement to hubert's letter

AUTHOR: john - ()

Everything Hubert said is true. However, there are things which he did not reveal that would knock your socks off! For example, selling parts and complete systems to the ignorant homeowner just to put more money in his pockets, even when the system is not that old and there is absolutly nothing wrong with it. All tech's are taught to sell,sell,sell.

United does "train their "techs" as the ad says" No experience necessary" These "techs", arrive at each shop(usually a storage type warehouse, not a real A/C shop)at 6:00 am to set through 1 hour of "training"-- from a guy in Florida on live TV--every morning! 95% of their "techs" cant even spell HVAC let alone have a remote clue how to fix any problem.

This is where the company has an "ace in the hole". In the corporate office there are several seasoned service techs who actually solve most service calls from Florida. Now....would you let just anyone in your home to "fix" your problems from an ad you seen for "tune-up special.. $19.95"?? Most service companies that I have talked to cant get out of their trucks for less than $75.00 which is a diagnostic charge.

Granted ,there are going to be other charges for parts which may be bad, and as a homeowner you should ask to see these parts or get a second opinion before they actually do the work. Usually a second opinion works the best.

The main focus I would like to get to you, Please dont look at all service techs as being crooked or dishonest. There are lots and lots of good people out here trying to stay alive as well as take care of YOU.

Check out the company you are going to use before they get to your home. "If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is".
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#12 UPDATE EX-employee responds

It's all True but Worse

AUTHOR: Hubert - ()

I am an ex-employee of United Air Comfort, which to my understanding is an affiliate of United Restoration, Inc. I was employed by the company for 1 (one) day.

What I saw and heard in that 1 day was enough to set me running, without even considering looking back. I responded to an add in the classifieds that said "Great money! $750-$1000 a week! No exp neccessary, will train..."

I showed up the next morning bright and early to learn that if I wanted the job, it was mine for the taking. Hot dog! I thought, that is d**n good money for a 20 year old kid. The expected earnings they projected are not inaccurate or exaggerated.

You can make that much and more in a single week. But let me list a few catches.
First of all NOBODY works only 40 hrs a week.
You are dispatched to the customer's home and you don't leave until the job is done. In my one day there, I put in 13 hours. The average amount of hours put in a week by even the most goldbricking of employees is about 70. Most guys were doing something like 90.

The pay is 25% commission on every job completed, but if the job is not done right or if something is damaged, you repair or replace item(s) at your personal expense. This means you can actually go heavily into debt to your employer. What this also means is that you can end up having put in those 70-90 hours in a week and end up taking home maybe $200 for that week.

Do the math and it doesn't even add up to 2 dollars per hour.

Employees are required to purchase their own uniforms, tools, and since no company vehicles are offered one must use their vehicle with no reimbursment for gas or mileage. This helps out there overhead quite a bit.

Now let's discuss the job itself. The first customer we visited was a kind old man who saw an add for a duct cleaning for $49. This man was nothing but a gentleman to us while we were there, he had obviously occupied his house for some time judging by the 70 or so framed pictures of family hanging all over every wall.

I had respect for the life this man had led, regardless of how unglamorous or obscure it may have been compared to others. The person I was being trained by didn't. This man expected to pay about fifty bucks for services rendered when we showed up, when we left, he had just dished out close to $500 dollars for work the neccessity of which was either non-existent or highly questionable. This is a text-book example of just how that operation runs.

They prey on the customer's ignorance, because really, what the hell do any of us know about our furnaces and ventilation? They also know that you NEED a furnace. This means they can tell you anything in the world regarding what's ailing your furnace, and will also be just as imaginative in telling you what needs to be done to fix it. One woman with a family and a mortgage paid over $600 dollars for her furnace to get working. We worked on it for close to 5 hours.

In that time, my trainer "Rob" (who was about as openly racist as anybody I've encountered in the past 10 years and rifled through the pockets of my coat when I left it in his truck while he went to get parts he didn't need) poked around trying various solutions, when his resources proved insufficient, he called the company tech support line, where he learned that the circuit board on the furnace simply needed to be reset. What is entailed in resetting a circuit board? Turn it off for 10 minutes and then turn it back on. We did that, and magic! It worked! However, the woman was still charged for all the parts and labor that were entirely unneccesary. Why? Because otherwise Rob wouldn't have made any money on the job!

There are no written guidelines that direct the employees in this swindling. But it is taught academically and scientifically, to all employees who can throw aside their scruples long enough to half-heartedly justify it. So, as an employer, they are robber-barons. As a consumer service, they are outright thieves.

My advice to you as consumers is to be more assertive and take more initiative. Check to see just Who made Your furnace, and call them. That way you know you have a trained technician familiar with that line of products.

If somebody shows up at your house to do some work and all the sudden he or she is telling you that there is a whole pile of expenses you never considered but need to pay for, you're getting hosed, plain and simple. But let us not forget what's at the root of this all. It is a great social ill that has facilitated the success of this company and thousands of others just as immoral and unethical. It also affects us in our day to day lives, as individuals. It is called GREED. Without it, I would not be writing this wretched little report.
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