So. It started in January, when we got an electric bill for $725.00. OMG. Portland General was more than willing to help us out financially, but I went ahead and paid it (who needs to eat, right?) Suspecting that it was our heat pump, I called out our usual heating/a/c company. After investigating, the guy said it was probably our thermostat, and told us that a new one like the one we had would be $800, but he could install a smart/wi-fi one for half that, which would be cheaper than trying to fix the heat pump. I said okay. $464.00. But the problem was, we still weren’t getting any heat, and I didn’t like the thermostat. It lit up every time I walked by it and I felt like it was spying on me. Also, even though the tech had set it to not use the heat strips till the outside temperature was 25°, our emergency heat was coming on anyway even though temps were in the 30s, using the heat strips, and PGE told me when I checked the website that at that rate our next bill would be $849.00. Needless to say, I shut off the entire system.
We have now been mostly without heat since January 26th. We have the woodstove in the living room, which is wonderful. And a space heater each in our offices. But that’s been it. Outside last week?
I shivered a lot during these below-freezing days. I wore wool on my head, around my neck. Thank goodness for all my hand-knit hats, handwarmers, and cowls. But sometimes I looked like this.
I called a highly recommended heating company to see what they thought about everything. The guy came out and told us that yes, they could try to fix the heat pump as the first tech had suggested, but there’d be only a 50-50 chance that it’d work. And the cost would be over $2500.00. So no thanks.
We were really impressed with the second company. The tech wisely turned on our unit and checked our heat vents and told us that there was virtually no heat coming from the heat exchanger (emergency heat) downstairs. The first tech never did that; if he had, he would’ve known that something was wrong with the heat pump, not the thermostat. So we got an estimate from the second guy. $11,000. Yikes! But it was fair.
I went back to the first company and told them I wanted a refund for the thermostat, which we’d had professionally disconnected and the old one put back on. I also said I’d like to get an estimate from them for a new unit. They weren’t very forthcoming about refunding our money for the thermostat. Their estimator came out a few days later and gave us an estimate for a unit that didn’t use heat strips…ready? $25,000!! “But we can sell it to you at 9.9% interest for ten years!” Really? At that rate, the unit would cost us $39,000!! Sheesh.
In the meantime, we were still freezing. Getting out of the shower was miserable. Being in the kitchen was miserable. (I should’ve turned on the oven and left the door open.) I closed off the laundry room door so that some heat from the woodstove could maybe migrate down to the bedroom. Who wants to do laundry anyway? I had a large heating pad that I could lay on the bed before getting in which helped a little and we piled blankets on the bed. But if we had to get up in the middle of the night? Ho da cold!!! The kitties’ fur even felt cold to the touch. We used a space heater in our “greenhouse” where all my tropical plants are, which helped. I tell you…that’s one way to cut electricity bills. Just be cold. It really gave me a heart for all the people on the streets trying to stay warm.
We ordered a new heat pump from the second company on January 31st, but because of supply chain issues it won’t be installed till the 9th-10th of next month. When temps were below freezing for days and days we did the best we could to stay warm. I was warm in the shower, warm in my car, warm at the gym. But a good part of the time we struggled to stay warm. A good friend brought over another space heater for the bedroom last week, and that has really helped.
I contacted the first company and told the guy I’d been talking to that I wanted a refund on the thermostat; that if the first tech had checked the heat vent he would’ve known that the thermostat wasn’t the problem. They’re not being very cooperative about it. I took it back to them at one point and the guy brought it back, saying we could work something out. Like they’d take the price off a new ($25,000/$39,000) unit. No thanks.
The weather has now warmed up a bit and we’re doing better. We’re counting the days till the new heat pump can be installed. In the meantime, I’m going to have to do battle about the thermostat. I want to take back the thermostat and stand there till I get a check written out. I dislike confrontation so will have to channel an inner tita from Waiʻanae or something. I talked to the guy from the first company again and I told him I wanted a refund but he wasn’t very encouraging about that, saying that they couldn’t us couldn’t use it again. Well, if they’d done due diligence they never would’ve installed it in the first place. I can’t get my money back even on eBay by selling the thermostat; we only had it installed for two days but it’s still considered used.
I’m not naming names at this point. But if they don’t make this right, I will be leaving negative reviews online. I can’t afford to lose $464.00!
You go, Mokihana. I would get your refund AND leave cautionary reviews online! I, for one, would want to know about this drama (even if they FINALLY give you that refund) so I could make a better choice in companies!
Thank you, Michelle. I really appreciate your concern and care. I will definitely make their name public if I’m not satisfied with their response.
Well geez!!! How did you pay for the thermostat? Check? Credit Card? CC you could deal with through the company but…sigh….what a drag!!! Glad it’s warming up…a wee bit oxoxox
I wish I’d paid with a CC, but I was also paying for the service call so wrote the check. I’m glad it’s warmer now, too.
Moki-chan, THAT SUCKS. Not like you don’t already know that. I can’t imagine being that cold for that long.
Threats to complain to your State Attorney General (https://www.doj.state.or.us/consumer-protection/contact-us/) might help. So might contacting a local tv station/newspaper that does consumer advocacy. Also, the Better Business Bureau. Are you a Yelp member?
It may help you to imagine that you’re advocating for someone else instead of yourself.
Good luck! Let us know if we can help you, even if it’s just by amplifying your voice/concerns.
Mahalo, sista. You’ve given me some great ideas. I do belong to Yelp and also leave Google reviews. I love your idea of advocating as if it were for someone else! I just had a tooth extracted today so will make the call tomorrow to the owner, and him only.
Oh Mokihana! So sorry to hear about your heating problems! You’re absolutely right! Thank goodness they went into heating and not surgery! That’s like giving a FitBit smartwatch to someone needing a heart transplant and didn’t know it!
You’ve asked nicely and went to them directly…you didn’t drag them across social media.
Their employee made a mistake. It happens. It doesn’t matter if they can use the part again…their employee’s mistake cost YOU more than it has them. You’re not asking them to pay for the continued increased electrical costs after their employee “fixed” the problem, the cost of the electrician that removed the didn’t-fix-the-problem-at-all-thermostat, the costs to fix the Actual Problem or the very real possibility of hypothermia/death Because You Placed Your Trust in Their Company To Know What They Are Doing. A wise business person apologizes and gives you your money back and if they do it right, it stays between you, other people keep using their services and you may give them another chance later. Let’s hope they smarten up fast and refund your money.
Your local Better Business Bureau may be able to help.
Love that… went into heat and not surgery! And you’re right that a wise business person apologizes and gives the money back. I would much prefer that it stay between the two of us. I’ll keep you posted. BBB is on my list to call if I can’t get satisfaction from them. Thanks for your helpful comment!