We hired Kiwi Services to complete their Air Duct Cleaning service which includes:
(NOT DONE) Cleaning the unit, squirrel cage, fan, and all the accessible air handling components in the furnace.
(NOT DONE) Removing and hand washing vent covers, and application of Kiwi's antimicrobial treatment.
(COMPLETED) Vacuuming individual ducts to remove dust, ash and other debris.
(NOT DONE) Applying antimicrobial throughout the system to disinfect the area.
(NOT DONE) Cleaning the surrounding vent areas.
(NOT DONE) Cleaning and replacing your filter or (COMPLETED) installing your new filter.
After not completing the majority of the work and causing damage to our house (see the letter sent below), they only offered to refund us $92.11 out of the total cost of $561.14 for our troubles.
Following is the letter we wrote to Kiwi Services describing all the problems:
December 22, 2007
Dear Kiwi Services:
On, December 7th we paid for a full system air duct cleaning service consisting of (17) vents cleaned for $381.65, (2) return air vents cleaned for $52.64 and (1) unit cleaned for $85.09. This came to a subtotal of $518.38 and with tax, a grand total of $561.14.
Before initiating the service, the technician asked if he can use our kitchen sink to hand wash the vents and Nancy said no because we had recently remodeled our kitchen and there was some caulking around the sink area that is not complete. Nancy told him that he could use the bathtub in the spare bathroom, instead. Once the technician started the service, he informed Nancy that the supply registers were not very dirty and that he would just vacuum them off. Nancy said that was fine because she was going to be painting the ceilings soon anyway and was planning on washing them at that time anyway. At that time, she assumed that it would not be that difficult to get a partial refund for work not completed and planned to ask about it.
The antimicrobial cleaning fluid was not used at all while cleaning the supply registers as the bottle sat in the foyer the entire time. However, the cleaning fluid was spilled on the entry tile (not a problem) and also soaked into a box containing our new very expensive hard wood flooring that was going to be installed the following week. The Kiwi service person never mentioned this; however, Nancy observed the technician cleaning up the spilled fluid near the boxes and then saw that one of the boxes was wet. Since the boxes were stacked six tall, Nancy had to move six very heavy boxes to open the bottom box to see what was potentially damaged. Since she saw the problem and moved quickly, luckily only one piece had been affected by the cleaning fluid. She took some pictures of the damage and planned to mention it to the technician when he was done.
Nancy observed the technician vacuuming out all 17 supply registers to the Ts and the two return registers, but did not follow him up into the attic. He was in the attic for maybe 10-15 minutes but she cant recall for sure. She heard his vacuum running but the unit was never run while he was here. The antimicrobial cleaning fluid was not used on the supply or return registers in the house and she was not sure if it was used in the attic.
When the technician was done, he mentioned we really had 18 supplies, but he was not going to charge us for the extra and would do that for free. Nancy informed him that there were only 17 and they re-counted together to confirm that 17 was the correct number. Nancy asked a bout a discount for the hand washing not being done and he said he was unable to do that. She said no problem and that she would call the main number. He then said that if she had wanted them done he would have done them. So, she made a note on the ticket and went ahead and paid, figuring she would immediately follow up by calling the 800 number.
After the technician left, Nancy printed out the detail of service she paid for and called the 800 number and spoke to Mike to discuss a partial refund due to the vents not being hand washed. It was at that time that Nancy was informed that the unit was to be cycled on and the antimicrobial also sprayed into the duct with the unit running. Mike informed Nancy that there policy was to come out and do the work correctly, however, Nancy informed Mike that this option was not possible, because we were clearing out several rooms that weekend to allow for the hardwood floors to be installed and to allow Nancy to paint the ceiling, walls and trim. All of this would take at least two months with the holidays and in the meantime, we would have stuff piled everywhere and it would not be possible to maneuver ladders around to access all the ducts. Mike told us that he would need to escalate the issue to a manger, which he did and later that evening, we received a message from Summer. We called Summer back the following day (the 8th) and the following Monday (the 10th).
Late Monday evening (actually 2:00 am Tuesday morning), we awoke to the most awful noise imaginable. There was a horrible hissing noise coming from the ducts and after turning on the lights, we noticed that the two registers in our bedroom were completely closed. Eric reached one by standing on the bed and reached the other by standing on a chair and when the noise didnt stop, he ran to the thermostat and changed the set point to something really low so the unit would not come on again for the rest of the night. So, we had our first night without heat.
Having worked in the HVAC industry before and knowing a bit about it, Nancy was extremely concerned that there might have been some damage to the system because it was running with no where for the air to go. On Tuesday, she left another message and then later that day, finally heard back from Summer and Nancy explained the latest ordeal with the registers being closed. Summer offered to get someone out to open all the vents, however, with all our furniture and artwork carefully piled everywhere, Nancy did not feel comfortable with anyone but herself moving things and maneuvering a ladder. Nancy informed Summer that she would take care of the registers and at that point was interested in a discount equivalent of us only paying $200 for the services that were rendered.
Later that day, Nancy maneuvered around everything to open the vents and found that 15 out of 17 were fully closed and that 2 were only half way open. After Nancy opened all the vents, she tried starting the unit, but it still didnt sound right and she wasnt sure if it was safe to run. Eric worked late that night, so there wasnt an opportunity to look into it together, so we once again decided to keep the heat off again, even though it was extremely cold.
After both of us got home late on Wednesday night, we decided to try and turn the heat back on because the temperature was dropping considerably and we really needed the heat. With the blower running and all of the vents open, we could still hear an abnormal sound coming from the unit itself. Eric went into the attic and took the panel off the unit and found a wire that had been knocked loose and was rubbing against the back of the blower fan. The insulation had been worn through and bare wire was now exposed in two places. Eric taped the wire and although we were very cold, we elected to keep the heat off; not knowing what damage might have been sustained.
On, Thursday December 13th Nancy left another message with Summer letting her know there were more problems and that she had an HVAC technician coming out to look at the system later that day.
When the HVAC technician came, Nancy explained the whole ordeal and followed him up to the attic to take a look. He looked at the outside of the unit and said it looked like nothing had been done. He looked at the wire damage and informed Nancy that wrapping it in electrical tape was exactly what he would have done. He took the two panels of the unit and informed Nancy that nothing had been cleaned. He even ran his finger over the inside and showed her all the dust that was in there. He asked how much she paid and embarrassed, she said allot. He guessed $100 and she told him almost $600. The HVAC technician must have felt really bad that she had been taken, because when she tried to pay him the $75 trip charge and the $75 an hour fee, he waived his charges and just asked that she schedule a service call with him in the spring. We got really lucky with the HVAC technician and at least we felt comfortable turning our heat on after three nights without.
On Friday December 14th, Eric called and got a hold of Summer and she informed him that a quality inspection would need to be done before anything else could be. So Nancy called her to set up the inspection, which was done on Thursday, December 20th.
On December 20th, the Kiwi representative confirmed that the wire was damaged and that the unit was not cleaned Nancy added to his report the fact that the registers were not hand washed.
Earlier on, Kiwi wanted to return to re-service our house. We are currently renovating areas of the house and are not in a position to allow your personnel or equipment access to all areas of the house. Further more, we do not want the equipment in areas we have new floors or paint as we are not willing to risk further damage from Kiwi services.
Now, we are requesting a full refund of the total amount paid to Kiwi ($561.14) due to the majority of the services not rendered on the initial service date, damages incurred as a result of the service visit, and all of the inconveniences we have faced since then. This is provided for in Kiwis satisfaction guarantee and substantiated in the findings of the Quality Service Inspection on December 20th.
We thank you in advance for a quick resolution to this unfortunate endeavor.
The Woodlands, Texas