Before we get started, I feel like I should warn you that this will be a very long post without a ton of photos, but I think it’s an important post. It’s a post about being treated unfairly, and about companies who don’t do the things you pay them to do. It’s a post about the frustrations of homeownership, and how sometimes it’s really just not that much fun. Feel free to skip it if you’re not up for the long read, but I think it’s worth your time.
Last week was hard.
It was the first week of school, I got sick, had a billion schedule changes (and changes in who my students were), and basically everything that could go wrong did. I was looking forward to the oh-so needed three day weekend to catch up on house cleaning, get some work done, relax, and just basically take control of my life again.
I got home Thursday evening, ready to relax, excited that it was almost Friday, and guess what? My house was 92 degrees.
That definitely didn’t seem right.
Corey and I called our home warranty company (thinking to ourselves, thank goodness we kept it!) and figured that soon we would have a fixed AC. That’s how it works, right? You call the people you pay to take care of these things, and they take care of it.
Well, they couldn’t come out until Saturday, so after spending the most miserable night of our lives in our house on Thursday evening, we decided that Friday night had to be spent somewhere that was less than 90 degrees – which, really, could have been OUTSIDE (isn’t it sad when it’s cooler outside than it is in your house? In August? In TEXAS?)
So, we spend Friday evening at my sister’s house – and it was gloriously, wonderful cool – no, cold. It was fabulous. Then, on Saturday afternoon we finally got the call that the technician was on his way to our house to fix our air conditioning, so we excitedly headed back to the house, convinced that soon we would have our house back. We were so naive.
The technician showed up at our house, Corey talked to him a bit about what the problem was, and he headed outside to look around a bit. He came back in and announced that he had found our problem – a small leak in one of our AC coils. He said that our system was very new and top-of-the-line (which we already knew), and that he wouldn’t need to replace the coil, just top off the coolant. Now, I’ll admit that I know nothing about air conditioners and how they are fixed, but that just didn’t make sense to me. If there’s a leak, why wouldn’t we…fix…the leak? He was presenting it to us almost as if the fact that it was new cancelled out the fact that it was, um, broken. I asked him about this, and he said that’s just how it’s done – he assured us that if he topped it off, it should work just fine for another year or two, at which time we’d have to have someone come back out to fix it. He said this cycle would continue until the leak got bigger, then it would have to be completely replaced.
Now, I’m not gonna lie – all of this sound like complete bullshit, but my desire to question him was overlooked by the next statement he made: He didn’t have the correct coolant (he had conveniently just run out of the super rare coolant our AC system uses at the job before ours) and wouldn’t be able to get any more until Sunday at the earliest. He assured us that he would come back first thing Sunday morning to fix it for us, even though it was his day off, and that he wouldn’t require us to pay him that day.
Um, thanks? I’m so grateful that you will deign to actually come finish your job and that you won’t make me pay you for telling me my AC is broken, a fact I was already well aware of, considering at the time my house was sitting at 95 degrees.
Before he left, he asked again if it we would be okay until the next day. We stared at him, dumbfounded, and told him that, well, no we’d really rather not spend the night in a near-100 degree house, but he wasn’t really giving us much of a choice.
Looking back, I wish I would have spoken up then and there, but I was too busy holding back the tears that exploded the second he walked out of my house because I was so damn frustrated. I had already given up a third of my three-day weekend of productivity to this AC problem and now I was being asked to give up another third of it. After the week I had (and all of the problems Corey and I have been dealing with in this house lately) this was the last thing I needed.
After he left and Corey and I talked it over a bit, he decided to call up our home warranty company and see if they would recommend another company for us to call. Surely they would understand that we couldn’t live in our house as it was (we had reached 97 degrees by this point) and would help us out.
(Around this time, we just turned the system off because it seemed silly to have it running when it was doing absolutely nothing.)
He called them, and the oh-so helpful person on the other line told him that no, they won’t recommend anyone to him until they receive a report from the people who had already come out. So, even though the company that they had recommended to us did not complete their job, they would not give us any help on finding someone who WOULD complete the job until the first company told them that they didn’t complete the job. Makes perfect sense right?
After trying to reason with the person for a few minutes (with no luck), Corey asked to speak to her manager. He had been very polite up to this point and was just trying to understand what was going on.
She told him no.
Seriously. Not even kidding. She told him that their management wasn’t accepting calls and she would not transfer him over.
He told her that they had just lost a customer and we would be finding a home warranty through a company that actually did was we paid them to do, and at least pretended to care when we called them with major home issues (it may sound silly to call a broken AC “major,” but if you’ve ever lived in Texas you understand!).
At this point, we were both just angry. We were sweaty, we wanted our house back, and we were sick of dealing with people who refused to help us. So, Corey decided to call the air conditioning company who had come out to our house. He managed to get in touch with the owner, and explained to him that he had been disappointed and frustrated that the technician who came out to our house wasn’t properly stocked. Shouldn’t they have gotten information from us about what kind of AC system we had so they could come to our house with the proper coolant? Isn’t coolant one of the most common issues for an AC? Wouldn’t it make sense to actually, um, HAVE SOME when you come to someone’s house?
The owner told him that they couldn’t stock everything, which Corey and I both understand, but Corey explained to him that the technician told us he had not one, but three empty coolant jars in his truck. He obviously had the space to stock what he needed, he just didn’t have it. The owner replied that he “knew for a fact” it wasn’t true that he had three empty jars – Corey explained that the technician had told us that very thing, and the owner did not seem particularly concerned or interested in helping us. The bottom line after speaking to the owner of the company was that he didn’t really care that our house was rapidly approaching 100 degrees and they had failed to help us – there was nothing they would do for us until Monday.
Y’all, there are no words for how upsetting, angering, and frustrating it is to have no one on your side in these situations. No one seemed to care that we are in the dead of summer in Texas and our AC is broken – even though we pay them to care. No one was interested in helping us out, and no one seemed willing to actually do their job and find a solution to the problem.
The technician had told us that he would ask a different technician who works with him if he’d be willing to drop by and help us out tonight, but he told us that “he’s a gruff guy” and probably wouldn’t be willing to stop by (even though our home is directly in the path of where he would have been coming from and would have taken him no more than 3 minutes off of his route).
We realized that at this point we had no other options – we weren’t getting our AC fixed that night, and we couldn’t spend another second in a house that was creeping closer and closer to 100 degrees by the second. We packed up the dogs and some clothes and headed out to Corey’s parents’ house, who happened to be out of town, and settled in for the night.
I called my mom, who has many friends who work in or own air conditioning companies, and she got me in touch with one of her friends who immediately told us that it is against almost a dozen different rules and regulations for someone to add coolant to an AC that is leaking. It’s not done, it’s not okay, and they have to FIX the leak before they add more coolant.
I have to say that was a bit of a relief, because I was beginning to wonder if I was crazy for thinking that you would, I don’t know, patch the leak before just pouring more stuff in.
My mom’s friend also assured us that he would be happy to help and offer more advice if we needed it. He told us to feel free to call him the next day when the technician showed back up and tried to give us the run-around – he offered to talk to him for us and put him in his place if need be.
It was so nice to have someone on our side for the first time in two days that I almost started crying right then and there.
After that, Corey and I were ready to forget the day and try to salvage what was left of our weekend. We weren’t at our house and couldn’t settle in as much as we would have liked to, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t have some fun. We ran to the grocery store and picked up some stuff to make dinner, turned on my favorite Pandora station (NSYNC, of course), and had ourselves a damn good night.
The story has a relatively anti-climactic ending. On Sunday morning, the technician came back out and added some coolant to our system. When we mentioned the fact that we were told that it was illegal for him to add coolant without fixing the leak, he explained that while that is true, it’s only true for leaks that are larger than ours – apparently, ours is small enough that they wouldn’t be able to find it. Do we believe him? Not really. But at this point, we were just happy to have a working air conditioner again, and we plan to research the issue a bit more and if it needs to be fixed, we’ll be contacting someone else.
Moral of the story?
Do your research before you call a repairman, even if your house is 95 degrees and you feel like you are dying. Corey and I wish that we would have been a bit more informed when he showed up the first time, and maybe then we wouldn’t have felt so confused and blindsided.
Another moral? Sometimes a really awful house problem can turn into an adventure if you let it – we both agreed later that it had been kind of fun to spend the night at his parent’s house – almost like a mini vacation! We knew we had to make the best of it (there was definitely nothing we could do!) so we chose to run with it and have as good of a time as possible.
And, in the end, I got my relaxing weekend after all – just not in the way I’d wanted to.
Have you ever had one of those times where you felt like everyone was working against you? Anyone else dealing with some major house problems lately?