There’s no reason to settle for bad commercial HVAC service
Business owners and facilities managers sometimes struggle with concerns about their commercial HVAC service contracts — and the people behind the contract. But because of other pressing concerns or simple inertia, they live with what they’ve got rather than exploring other alternatives.
Settling for the devil you know might seem easier, but in fact it’s costlier and riskier for your business and your career. If you are a business owner, uncomfortable conditions can drive away customers and make your employees less productive, both of which eat into your profits. If you are a facilities manager, climate control is ultimately your responsibility. If your HVAC vendor is failing to do the job, and that failure hurts the business, you could find your job on the line.
If you’re in this situation, you might feel trapped by your current contract, with clauses you don’t understand and terms clouded by legalese. You might be dissatisfied with how your systems are performing and your service provider’s efforts to correct problems. Or, you might be unhappy with the relationship in general and how much (or how little) the company seems to value your business. And, the cost might be the final straw: why are you paying so much for poor service?
The good news is, it’s not as difficult as you think to get the commercial HVAC service you want and deserve.
STEP 1: Check the terms of your contract
Chances are, your commercial HVAC service contract is for one year. You might also be getting a discount for signing a multi-year contract. Many allow for 30-day written notice to end the agreement, as long as you’re current with your payment.
On the other hand, some contracts include a penalty for early termination, which might mean paying for the remaining months on the contract. In that case, it can be a tough decision to switch early. However, there may be a clause that lets you get out of the contract without a penalty in the event of a failure on the part of the vendor (that’s where step 2 below can help you). If it’s written in legalese, consider having your attorney look over the agreement and advise you on your rights for terminating the contract.
In the future, avoid contracts written in language that makes it hard to understand the terms.
Also, be aware that many contracts auto-renew unless you inform the vendor in advance of your intention to end the relationship. If your current contract is coming to an end soon, now is the right time to consider transitioning to a new service provider.
STEP 2: Evaluate the commercial HVAC service you’re getting
Whether or not you’re in a position to switch immediately, it’s smart to get an independent evaluation of your current commercial HVAC service and the condition of your equipment. The results of that evaluation can confirm that you’re getting poor service, and either give you rationale for ending the agreement, or ammunition to approach the vendor and negotiate improvements. It’s also possible you might find that the vendor is doing a better job than you thought.
An independent HVAC evaluation should include a thorough review of your HVAC system and the condition of your mechanical equipment, such as your furnace or boiler, heat exchanger, evaporator coils, condensing units, compressors, refrigerant lines, and system controls. An independent contractor’s report will reveal any telltale signs that you’re not receiving the systematic skilled maintenance outlined in your service contract, such as:
- Filters clogged with debris
- Worn pulleys, belts, or wiring
- Dirty coils and drain pans
- Plugged condensate lines
Another way to evaluate your contract is to consider the value you’re getting for the price. Here are a couple of related articles that can help you do that:
STEP 3: Find a better service provider
If steps 1 and 2 have motivated you to make a switch, now you’ve got to find a better commercial HVAC service provider. This is probably the part you were trying to avoid! How can you be sure to make a better choice this time around?
We can ease your mind on this one. It’s easier than you think to identify a reliable and knowledgeable service provider that’s easy to work with. Here’s how.
Ask the right questions
If you’re not an HVAC expert, it can be challenging to figure out who the experts are. Also, how can you tell if they will keep their promises? Here’s what to ask:
- How long have you been performing HVAC maintenance in NYC?
- How many trucks and technicians do you have in my area?
- What is your response time in an emergency?
- How fast can you get parts?
- What maintenance tasks are included under your commercial HVAC service contract?
- Will we get a dedicated technician?
- How are your technicians trained?
- Do you have a process for checking a technician’s work?
- How will you report to me about work completed?
- Can you provide references that are similar to my business?
Understand the contract
Often, the language and format of a contract will provide an important first clue if a vendor is right for you or not. Do they state things as clearly and simply as possible, or do they hide behind complicated language that is difficult to interpret? Are contracts professionally written and presented, or do they appear sloppy and incomplete?
Look for a transition plan
Next, ask the service providers you’re considering about their process for easing the transition from your previous vendor.
A great service provider will welcome you as a customer with detailed information about what to expect, who you will be working with, and instructions for contacting them with any and all questions. You should also expect a thorough inventory of your HVAC equipment, where it’s located, and any special instructions in advance of the first service visit.
If you’re in the New York City area, Arista can provide the quality commercial HVAC service you need. Give us a call to discuss your needs, or request a maintenance agreement quote online.
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