Man Threatens To Sue Extortionist HVAC Company In Small Claims, Wins

Last winter, David’s old furnace broke down. But things got really heated up when the incompetent HVAC repairmen he hired threatened to report him to collection agencies and put a lien on his condo when they wanted him to pay up for a repair they never finished. Just to give a little atmosphere, this takes place in Chicago, famed for its merciless winters. David’s story, and how fought back, inside…

Brrr! I called a leading HVAC company to come fix it, not wanting to risk fixing it myself (gas leaks scare me). The repairman spent 3 hours trying 6 different circuit boards, and finally said he must have gotten a fully defective batch, he’d have to come back the next day with parts from the warehouse. He then spent 30 minutes trying to force me to pay him for his time, despite not having actually repaired my furnace. I told him he’d better leave or I’d call the police. He left.

I broke out my trusty old multimeter and started testing things by reading the handy-dandy electrical schematic glued to the inside of the access panel. Within 15 minutes I found it was a “heat trip sensor” – basically a “fuse” that trips when it detects heat in the wrong place. This one was “downwind” of the chimney flue, where hot natural gas fumes normally rise upwards. A visit to the roof determined a chimney lining tile had fallen over and blocked the chimney.

Thus, the hot exhaust blew back down the furnace, and the furnace’s safety system kicked into gear. Banging on the tile in the chimney with a broomstick made it break and fall to the bottom of the chimney. A trip to an HVAC supplier resulted in a $4 replacement heat sensor. I installed the part, and just like that! My furnace started working just fine.

The next day, the HVAC company threatened to report me to collection agencies, sue me, and even threatened to put a lien on my condo. A few weeks later, I filed a small claims court complaint contending that I never agreed to pay a dime unless the repair was completed, and to boot, they were incompetent. Rather than appear before a judge, they settled by reimbursing me the filing fees and drop the collection attempt

How did I know to do things with the small claims court?… Consumerist. THANKS!

Going to small claims court is a lot easier than you might think. You don’t need a lawyer and filing fees are minimal. Here’s how to take a case to small claims court, stories and advice from a guy who makes frequent use of small claims court, and a success story from a reader who won after suing a subcontractor in small claims.

(Photo: beau-foto)

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