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Air conditioning and heating contracts are often signed on an emergency basis, a fact that disreputable HVAC companies know well. If you need your air conditioner or furnace repaired immediately, you won’t have the luxury of shopping around. But there are things you can look for when approaching or being approached by air conditioning and heating companies that indicate their intentions: offering you a quality job, or making a quick buck. In this article, we list five signs that suggest a company intends the latter.

1. Cold Calling

If you get a call from someone trying to sell you new heating or cooling equipment, or make an appointment to inspect your current equipment, don’t accept the offer. Otherwise, you could end up paying for new equipment you don’t need, or worse yet, paying for new equipment because someone sabotaged your current equipment. Successful HVAC companies needn’t ask people to buy new equipment or let them perform inspections; people come to them.

2. Door-to-Door Solicitation

It isn’t uncommon for companies to place seasonal flyers on people’s doors, but it is uncommon for reputable companies to solicit business by visiting residences. More often than not, outfits that do door-to-door service pitches are looking for quick money from maintenance, small repairs, or easy replacements. Of course, you won’t get a maintenance agreement with the work (at least not a real one), and the technician(s) probably won’t be bonded and insured, meaning an unfinished project or damage to your property is yours to deal with.

3.  Asking for Payment Upfront

A company that asks for payment upfront plans on one of two things: using it to finish another job, or skipping town. It isn’t uncommon for companies to draw up contracts where planned payments are made for completed work, but it is uncommon for a successful, reputable company to ask for payment before work is performed.

4. Using Leftover Materials from other Jobs

Some companies use leftover materials from other jobs and still charge their customers for new materials, a situation that often leads to using inappropriate materials for the job. To make sure you get what you pay for in materials, tell heating and air conditioning contractors upfront that you want receipts for items purchased toward the completion of your project.

5. Asking you to Pull Permits

For contractors, pulling permits is an everyday task, one that it shouldn’t delegate to customers if only out of courtesy. If a contractor asks you to pull permits for your project, it may be avoiding community officials after having its license pulled, or perhaps it never had a license. In any case, there’s no good reason why you should pull your project’s permits.