WEST PALM BEACH - Florida sunshine is great, until your air conditioning fails.
"They were able to come out the quickest. They offered to fix it quickly," said Air Care Solutions customer Stephen Altobelli.
Altobelli had seen Air Care Solutions circulars and its advertisement of a #1 rating in customer satisfaction. He said he wasn't satisfied with the new air handler that was installed.
"The air conditioner was not cooling the house. It was working. It was eating electricity, but it was not blowing cold air into the house," Altobelli explained.
At Claire Fawcett's home, there's an even bigger mess.
"It's leaking air for sure. There's a lot of condensation," said Fawcett pointing to the new air conditioner on her roof.
Replacing an air conditioner on top of the roof caused repair problems inside.
"I heard something, and I came in, and it came down. It opened up," said Fawcett pointing to her damaged ceiling.
Customers are opening up about their experience with Air Care Solutions, but the company isn't talking on camera.
After our calls and emails were not returned, we went to the company's offices in Hollywood. We were buzzed in, but employees went behind closed doors and told us to leave.
Complaints and state fines
More than 100 people complained to the Better Business Bureau this year, and 48 to the Florida Attorney General since 2011.
Air Care Solutions said it feels it's responsible to take care of customers who have concerns. They believe the complaints are a small fraction of the positive reviews and work done. The company forwarded us several handwritten notes thanking the company for its work and customer service, and has a section for testimonials on their website .
"If ever there have been any issues with a dissatisfied customer we have made sure that we have returned and satisfied any of the customers concerns or complaints. Although there are x amount of complaints against us; everyone fails to see the whole picture they want to focus on the few complaints that come in BUT NO ONE sees the fact that we have serviced over 100,086 customers. The conclusions drawn after reading the few complaints that come in are completely biased."
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which regulates business registrations, fined two people who supervised Air Care Solutions operations. According to the state of Florida, the fines totaled $28,000 this year.
The state Construction Industry Licensing Board issued the biggest fine of $25,000 in September for not pulling permits.
Air Care Solutions said, "With regards to any work performed without permits, I have contacted the permitting department regarding these matters and they are working on it."
The company has since changed the person supervising the business operations, and said it stands behind its work.
"I'm stuck with a bad air conditioner and install," said Fawcett.
Palm Beach County records show permits were a problem at Fawcett's home too. An HVAC permit was pulled in August, a month after the air conditioner was installed.
The work failed a county inspection in late October.
"It's still leaking. It's getting worse," said Fawcett.
Roofing problems are not what Fawcett expected. County records show her home was re-roofed in 2007 and passed inspection.
Air Care Solutions said in a statement, "Claire Fawcett's roof issues are being addressed, we have contracted a roofer to take care of the necessary repairs, although after having inspected the roof, the roofer CLEARLY stated that the amount of corrosion in the wood on her roof was from years of decay and rot, and there is absolutely no way possible would that roof decayed to the point that it is in over 2 or 3 months time, that being said we are still going to take care of it for her."
Customer learns valuable lesson
Altobelli fixed his own problem.
"I took it out because we had no air conditioning and this was going on close to two weeks," said Altobelli referring to the air handler he had another company remove.
He's learned a valuable lesson.
"I was trying to get this done faster than I should have, and I should have taken a step back, that's on me. And I admit that," Altobelli explained.
We forwarded the company other complaints we've received about billing.
In response the company said, "Also, any complaints pertaining to a customer stating they were overcharged etc… are not justifiable. With any of the promotions on the advertisements we send out, the customer receives an a/c and/or duct inspection free. Now based on the visual inspection performed to the a/c and/or duct system; the certified technician gives the customer recommendations to treat, service, repair, and/or replace any components that are found to be in less than perfect conditions. After and only after they have given the customer their recommendations AND the customer has agreed to the work, cost, and have signed the invoice authorizing the work and agreeing to pay (which is stated clearly on
the invoice), then and only then is when our technicians commence the work. There is never ANY obligation to do the recommended services, furthermore if after the customer receives the recommendations and decide they do not want the additional services nor the promotional services, there is no obligation to do either, and if the customer advises the technician that they are not interested we merely leave them a written estimate. In addition, if a customer is not satisfied with any work that is performed, we will gladly return to the home to inspect and or correct any deficiencies if any are found (this is also stated on the invoice). We stand behind our work 100%."