Furnace Fiasco

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Our story so far: on Monday night, when the temperature outside was around -24 and still falling, the furnace died. We didn’t know it at first – we heard a strange “whining” sort of sound around 10 pm, figured it might have been someone’s brakes outside; a few minutes later, we noticed a strange smell – almost like an electrical fire. We raced around the house, trying to locate the source, checking outlets, unplugging things, etc. Nothing. So out of an abundance of caution, we called the fire department, and they quickly dispatched a team of very nice firefighters who examined various nooks and crannies. The verdict: no fire danger, but the furnace had died. They explained that the strange aroma was likely the smell of furnace death.

So we began calling furnace companies, and got two wildly different responses. The first place we called was Central Plumbing and Heating, who offer 24-hour service, according to their ad in the phone book. The dispatcher transferred us to the on-call repair man; we explained that we needed someone to come look at the furnace and give us options for repair or replacement. His reply: sorry, we only do 24-hour service for “preferred customers.” Click. Um…geez. He didn’t explain what a preferred customer is, how we could become a preferred customer, or what the benefits of such status confer. Wow. They lost a chance to sign up some potentially very grateful customers, all in the span of about sixty seconds.

So then we called Central Solutions, also advertised as offering 24-hour service. Friendly as can be, and the on-call technician (Jason?) was at the house within 30 minutes. He examined the furnace and explained our options – repair or replace, and he also told us the pros and cons of each option, including estimated prices and times.

We slept at the house that night, but when we woke up on Tuesday morning it was about 48 degrees inside…brrrrrr! The folks at Central Solutions came by mid-morning and dropped off some space heaters – nice touch – and said that they could install the new furnace on Wednesday. Kudos to Central Solutions – friendly, helpful, and quick (given the circumstances!).

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4 Comments

  1. Wow! Thanks for the heads up, I don’t think I’m a preferred customer with anyone but my Credit Card company and Maybe the coffee shops I frequent and a few print sites, lol..But I would think my money is just as good as anyone else’ I would also be willing to bet when your freezing you would pay a little more to have a service done quickly…That’s the problem with some of the small town businesses here (BY FAR NOT ALL OF THEM), they pretty much hand big box chains business on a silver platter…CENTRAL PLUMBING heres a thought. Without customers you have noone to serve, therefore you should probably work on your “customer Service” WTG Central Solutions!

  2. Sounds about right for Central Plumbing and Heating. When we were buying our house we found out the furnace was not up to code. We called Central to come make the repairs that would bring it up to code, and their sales guy almost blew the whole sale because he was insistent that the only possible solution was a brand new furnace. He wouldn’t budge, and the seller didn’t want to buy a new furnace just to sell the house. So we got someone else to come in and bring the existing furnace up to code, completed the house purchase, still have that furnace 10 years later, and have never spent a dime with Central.

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