BBB Warns Consumers of “Local” Appliance Repair Companies
Sunday, April 26, 2020, 4:00 a.m.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers to exercise caution when dealing with Carmel Appliance Repair. Consumers claim the company did a poor job, refused to issue refunds, and provided poor customer service. The company has an “F” rating, the lowest on the BBB scale.
Therese and Jim Wallace, consumers in Carmel, Indiana, reached out to Carmel Appliance Repair when they noticed their refrigerator was no longer cool. Like many consumers, they used Google to research local businesses. Given Wallace’s geographic location, it’s no wonder Carmel Appliance Repair appears at the top of search results. The company has 27 Google reviews, a phone number with an area code, a polished website, and an address that places them in downtown Carmel not far from the Wallace residence. During a brief phone call, Carmel Appliance Repair stated that they could take a technician to Wallace’s house the next morning for an appointment fee of $ 60.00. The Wallaces provided their debit card information and found it was only a matter of time before their refrigerator was back on. Unfortunately, the repair did not go as planned.
When the technician arrived the next morning, he inspected the Wallace’s refrigerator and informed them that a compressor needed to be replaced. He said he could do the job but couldn’t return until the following week. Since the Wallace’s had already paid a fee just to take someone on an inspection, they agreed to the delay. The technician who told the Wallaces his name was Kenny returned on the scheduled appointment and behaved in a manner that Therese thought was strange. He parked his truck in the middle of the Wallace’s driveway and prevented Therese from pulling her car into her own garage. He did not remove any protective material to protect the Wallace’s wooden floors before starting his repairs. Therese became more and more concerned and asked Kenny for ID. He told them he didn’t have one, but had provided a business card. Therese told BBB that the card looked cheap, possibly homemade, and that Kenny’s last name wasn’t printed on it.
What was supposed to be a routine repair turned out to be an 8-hour ordeal. Kenny spent much of that time soldering components on the Wallace refrigerator. The Wallaces claim the fumes from the soldering at the time of work were overwhelming. They slept that night with the windows of the house open for fear that they might be poisonous. After Kenny finished, he told them the work would cost them $ 1200. The Wallaces wrote him a check, hoping they would never have to repeat the experience. But when they woke up the next morning and opened their refrigerator, they found that it wasn’t working. Kenny eventually returned to complete the repair, but after another long session of torching and soldering, the Wallace’s refrigerator still didn’t work.
Therese and Jim went back and forth with Kenny trying to get a refund. The Wallaces told BBB that Kenny cashed their check the next morning, and with few details of who Kenny actually was, they had a hard time tracking him down. Kenny promised to return her money several times, but never got through and eventually stopped answering Wallace’s calls. Frustrated, they turned to Carmel Appliance Repair, the company they believed Kenny was working there. After making countless phone calls to the company, they eventually reached someone only to be told they couldn’t issue a refund. Carmel Appliance Repair informed the Wallaces that Kenny was not their employee and that they had just referred him. Despite advertising for a downtown Carmel address, the company wasn’t even in Indiana and claimed to be an online-only company. Eventually, Therese and Jim called another equipment repair company to do the necessary repairs. The technicians informed them that Kenny’s attempts at repair had created a mess that would now cost thousands of dollars to fix, and advised them to buy a new device cheaper. In total, the Wallaces were worth nearly $ 4,000. “Carmel Appliance Repair has sent a repair person who has damaged our equipment and has not taken any responsibility for it,” Therese told BBB. “Make sure you read the reviews before hiring a repair company, and even verify the validity of their business address.”
Therese and Jim had inadvertently looked into a company that generates leads for appliance and handyman service companies. Companies like Carmel Appliance Repair invest the time and effort into looking like they’re local. On closer inspection, the professional looking website is actually a free Google website available to companies listed on the popular search engine. Throwing it together only takes a few minutes and looks like the real deal. The company’s name, fake physical address, and local community pictures on the website are intended to mislead consumers that they are dealing with a local, reputable business. The actual location of the company is unknown. The comprehensive list of appliance brands is designed to improve the company’s SEO ranking and virtually ensure that an ignorant consumer searching for “Carmel Appliance Repair” appears at the top of search results. BBB investigators found that nearly identical websites exist for several suburbs of Indianapolis. Westfield Appliance Repair, Avon Appliance Repair, Lawrence Appliance Repair, and Greenwood Appliance Repair share the same basic website design as Carmel Appliance Repair. BBB investigators confirmed that none of the companies actually exist in the specified locations. Since such companies make their money by securing an appointment fee and ultimately submitting the job to a third party, they are unlikely to be of any help to consumers with refund requests. If the third party they recommend does a bad job, it can be nigh on impossible for consumers to track the person down, especially with almost no help from companies like Carmel Appliance Repair.
Using the information provided by the Wallaces, BBB investigators were able to identify Kenny, the technician who visited Wallace’s home on behalf of Carmel Appliance Repair. His full name is Kenneth Morris. Company records with the Indiana Secretary of State list Kenneth as a client of Repair Lux, LLC (fdba A Lightning Fix, LLC). BBB maintains a file on Repair Lux, LLC. The company currently has an “F” rating due to an ongoing complaint pattern. Consumers who have studied with the company have reported experiences comparable to Wallace’s. In particular, consumers claim that the company does a poor job, misses deadlines, and fails to return emails and calls from consumers. BBB contacted Kenneth Morris and Repair Lux, LLC asking the company to investigate their complaint pattern. Although the company promised to provide an answer, BBB did not receive such a response.
“It is easy to come across as legit on the internet or phone, but it can be difficult to tell who is real and who is faking it,” said Tim Mansicalo, president and CEO of BBB Central Indiana. “Instead of trusting the first search result that comes up in your search engine, you should dig deeper into information about the company and how it works. You can always reach out to BBB to learn how to distinguish trustworthy companies from liars, scammers, and scammers. “
BBB offers the following tips for consumers looking to hire an equipment repair company:
Carefully research each business and its owners before paying any money. Check the company’s BBB Business Profile at bbb.org or by calling 317-488-2222.
Make payments with your credit card. Payments that you make with your credit card can be disputed in the event of a dispute. Paying by bank transfer or prepaid debit card is like cash. There is almost nothing you can do to get the money back.
Ask for a contract and read it. Receive verbal commitments in writing. Make sure the contract includes the start date and the expected completion date.
Do not pay the full amount due until the job is done and you are satisfied. Be careful if a handyman wants to be paid in full upfront. In some cases, the company may require a deposit to cover the materials. Most of the money, however, shouldn’t be due until the work is done.
ABOUT BBB SERVING CENTRAL INDIANA: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has helped people find companies, brands, and charities they can trust. In 2018, people turned to BBB more than 173 million times for BBB business profiles for 5.4 million+ companies and charity reports for 11,000 charities, all of which are available for free on bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, including BBB for Central Indiana, which was founded in 1916 and serves 46 counties.
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