Service contracts, clean and service agreements, or maintenance contracts. All these terms describe scheduled inspection, cleaning, and service of your HVAC system. HVAC service contracts may vary in terms of frequency of visit and scope of maintenance, but 1-2 visits a year is common.
There are benefits of scheduled service for both HVAC companies and homeowners. HVAC companies benefit from the reliability service work, especially in spring and fall before the extreme heating and air-conditioning months arrive. Homeowners benefit from increased HVAC lifespan and efficiency, as well as being able to be proactive in addressing any issues before they snowball into major repairs. In an area like Myrtle Beach, scheduled maintenance can give you some peace of mind if you have a second property or vacation home.
That said, signing an annual contract makes some wary for fear of being "locked in" and committed. Contracts can also contain fine print policies or leave curious about what service or products you are actually paying for. In this post we'll look at what to look for and what to avoid when shopping for an HVAC service plan.
There can be many red flags when looking over a service contract. And our first recommendation is that you look over the terms of the agreement before signing or providing payment. Here are some signs of a bad HVAC service contract:
1. Less than a page: A service contract isn't a 50-page document, but it should definitely be more than a page. The document should explain exactly what is covered (and perhaps what is not covered), pricing, and special terms of the agreement. The contract should explain the expectations of both the customer and the service provider. There needs to be enough in the document to protect you and the HVAC company, so make sure it is specific.
2. Insanely Cheap: You know that saying about a deal that's too good to be true? Compare service agreement rates amongst a handful of companies. There may be variations, but they should be in a similar ballpark. Avoid the ones that seem like they can offer the same product and service at a fraction of the price. Something is usually being left out.
3. Minuscule Type: You should be able to read the document. Be wary of the long paragraph on the last page in tiny type. If information is presented like this, it is intentionally being minimized for a reason. Additionally, any reputable service professional should be able to explain these terms to you. If they can't, go somewhere else.
4. Legalese and Jargon: An HVAC service contract should be able to simply state the terms and conditions as well as the scope of service, the expectations from both parties, and the cost. Question contracts that mask contract terms in confusing legalese.
On the other hand, good service contracts will inform you of the following:
You should feel comfortable with the HVAC company. Ask for a copy of the service contract and take your time to compare what you get (and don't get) with different companies. Some may have perks that others do not (discounted labor rates, priority service, etc). Look at reviews online and talk with neighbors. You can save yourself future headaches by doing a little research before signing a year's agreement.