The show was aired more than a few years ago, but I just ran across this on You Tube yesterday. Here are the links: Dateline AC Repair and Dateline AC Repair 2 and both are from account PrecisionAirHeatAZ on You Tube. My opinions might not reflect those of the account mentioned. One thing we should all agree on is that we need integrity and accountability in the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning industry; any industry for that matter. I agree that technicians shouldn't gouge customers nor should they look to replace parts that don't need replacing. What I do take these shows to task over is that EVERY contractor out there is going to REQUIRE his or her techs to "up sell" to some degree. The honest way is to look for anything that might be breaking down and this should, but doesn't always include putting gauges on the equipment to check the refrigerant charge.
Let's just say for an instant that the contractor who did the "right" thing and plugged in the fuses got a call back saying that her air conditioner quit working. It happens a lot more than you think. I've went on many a job to fix one problem on a 20+ year old system only to have another part call it quits a week later. The customers are not usually happy that you intended to save them money, because the unit quit working again. If this happens you can bet that technician is going to be hauled to the carpet for a scolding. If the customer calls another contractor, that contractor is duty bound to refute what the first one said to get the work. This happens all the time; it's a damned if you and damned if you don't scenario. You can have 30 good reports but the three bad ones will be those the boss takes the time to bring to your attention.
If a customer gets put off with the pricing structure of the firm, that customer will call a competitor in getting the bare minimum done. The next thing that will happen is the customer will call, write and bad mouth the first technician. The price of a service call doesn't cover the cost to get the truck to the door. Neither does the price of a tune up or inspection. Accuse all you want, but most would never have the service done if a service call was $200 to $300, much less a tune up. Firms train their techs to find problems and suggest to the customer to get them fixed. This is how the bills are paid. Since many firms warranty their work for the duration of the season, that unit needs to run, or the firm needs an "out" if the customer fails to have the work done. Otherwise, that tech will look like he or she didn't do the job, or likely messed up something due to their perceived incompetence (or even sabotaged same). The firm will lose money on these calls.
In all fairness, no one wants a salesman in their house. My wife and I had to throw a gentleman out of our house 15 years ago because he was insistent that we buy a $1500 vacuum cleaner. I wouldn't want my wife being confronted with a technician giving her an estimate for $1900 worth of work on a 20 year old air conditioner, nor trying to push a new one on her either. As for the tech that didn't even look at the fuses, shame on him. The proper thing to do to go to the thermostat first and make sure it's calling for cooling. If something isn't running at all, then look for the obvious. If it's just a switch, then check to make sure the unit is running correctly. If they don't ask, write it down, let the customer sign the invoice and collect for the service call. If they decline the repairs and their air conditioner dies; no warranty. If the repairs are going to be more than $5 or $600, then suggest this could be a good down payment on a new system. Easy as that. Just give them the facts and let the customer decide. They're the boss.
If you're a customer needing work done and trust the tech to do the work, ask him or her the price. If the price seems high to you, tell them you need to wait and get another estimate. Don't haggle (at least in the United States), beat him or her up on the price, or complain to the owner that the tech did you wrong. First of all, it isn't the techs fault the prices are "so high" but what the owner has determined has to be for the business to run. These techs deserve to be paid a lot more than what they make. Not to excuse poor customer service, but anyone can find anything wrong about someone to ruin that person's career. That person likely has a family to feed and bills to pay, regardless of what you think about them and their work. Think about what they did and how you handled it before you complain. Nobody deserves to lose their job over a misunderstanding. Aren't the unemployment roles swollen enough? Maranatha!