Ariz. AG: HVAC company offered useless warranties

Bryan Cohen Sep. 16, 2011, 4:34am


PHOENIX (Legal Newsline) - Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne announced a lawsuit on Thursday against a Pima County-based HVAC company over alleged violations of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act.

The lawsuit -- which is seeking injunctive relief, restitution and civil penalties -- alleges that American Residential Services LLC was involved in false, misleading and deceptive sales tactics involving older consumers.

ARS operates a heating, ventilation and air conditioning company under that name as well as operating several other companies in Yavapai, Maricopa, Cochise and Pima counties in Arizona. The other companies include Russet Services, Goettl Air Conditioning and ARS Rescue Rooter.

"My office has received dozens of consumer complaints about these companies," Horne said. "Millions of people in Arizona rely heavily on HVAC companies to provide essential services to consumers. It is important that those companies serve these consumers with integrity and professionalism. Any time a company abuses the trust that exists between a customer and a professional service provider, they must be held accountable."

The lawsuit alleges that ARS offered misleading and useless warranties and guarantees; engaged in false, misleading and deceptive "packaging" pricing; engaged in false, misleading and deceptive sales tactics to ensure that consumers do not exercise their three-day cancellation rights; mailed false and misleading buy-back notices and rebate notices; mailed official-looking notices that mislead consumers about rebates and tax credits; mailed official-looking solicitations that appeared to be mandatory notices/alerts from a government agency; installed solar water heaters even though it was not licensed to do so; and took advantage of elderly consumers, very often by using scare tactics, to sell them HVAC systems and plumbing replacements they did not need and couldn't afford.

The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting the companies from operating an HVAC business in Arizona, restitution for consumers, civil penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act and an additional $10,000 civil penalty for each occurrence of professional licensing violations under Title 32 of the Arizona Revised Statutes.

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