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syz's avatar

Help! Are there "lemon laws" for items other than cars?

Asked by syz (33452 points ) July 3rd, 2012

We built a new (expensive) veterinary hospital and moved in December of 2010. From the moment we moved in, the HVAC system has not worked correctly. Cold weather is fine – but when the temperature rises, we’re screwed. Units freeze up, electronic panels die, the AC will run in one section of the hospital and the heat will be on at the same time if other sections…..I don’t think we’ve gone more than a week without having to call for help. I’ve hesitated to switch to a new company only because the one we’re using is the same company that installed the system (one assumes that they would be the most familiar with it). So either the entire system sucks, or their service department doesn’t know what they’re doing, or both.

I’m now planning on making a formal complaint to 1) the engineers who designed the system 2) the contractor who hired the installation company, and 3) the installation and service company. My question to the collective is whether I have any legitimate recourse; besides complaints, online reviews, and the Better Business Bureau, do I have any real threat to try to get satisfaction? All I want is a system that works, that I don’t have to spend a fortune on paying service fees, that doesn’t burn up electricity like the freaking Pentagon.

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5 Answers

Jaxk's avatar

I would try the manufacturer of the unit. They have a stake in how well it works and public relations if it doesn’t.

funkdaddy's avatar

I think the formal complaint is your best bet. It’s one thing to complain at the guy who comes out and the services the unit, another to make your feelings known to the companies you’ve worked with. That might be all it takes. The engineers and contractor probably do other business with the service company so for better or worse their opinion probably holds a lot of weight.

Your paperwork should also include warranty information on the unit and then on “parts and labor” or something similar from the company that installed it. You shouldn’t be paying for anything that’s covered.

Beyond the warranty, this sounds like something that goes through small claims court rather than having any very clear set of rules although you might want to look into homeowner protection laws which might also apply in your area. They are usually more accessible and protect home buyers from getting stuck with a poorly made house.

No one wants to go to court, but before you threaten something like that you want to know you’re in the right according to the law. Personally I wouldn’t bring that up without first talking to a lawyer. The service company probably knows their rights, you don’t at this point.

Good luck.

augustlan's avatar

If I remember correctly, certain items (including HVAC units) are expected to work for a certain time, and if they don’t you do have some legal recourse. If you’ve had problems since the beginning, and have that documented, you can show that it never worked properly. I’d fight like hell to get the whole thing replaced.

JLeslie's avatar

Most major appliances and things like air conditioners have a minimum of a one year warranty, some things have a five year. If the person who built the hospital, the contractor responsible for the air conditioner isn’t helping you I would check with the manufacturer as @Jaxk suggested. If it is a Trane or a Carrier, or one of the other major recognized brands, there would definitely be some sort of warranty.

Pandora's avatar

Try complaining to them and ask to speak with the director of the company instead of some lower flunky. Explain that you will complain to the BBB if they do not do something to resolve your on going issues. Most don’t want a bad rap and will do something. Let them know that you have kept all the paper work in regards to all the fixes the units have had and you believe they have given you faulty equipment.

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