1. Check credentials. Before making your choice, call the Better Business Bureau to make sure the dealer is reputable. Also, find out if the dealer is a member of a local association such as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America. This, in itself, is some indication of reliability.
2. Ask the dealer about his training and experience. Many dealers take advantage of training by their manufacturer or distributor to help you determine your comfort needs. As a result, when they make recommendations, you can be more assured they have selected the right system for your home. They are also trained in installation and service.
3. Ask for references. Former customers are an excellent source of information. Call these individuals and ask if they were pleased with the dealer's work.
4. Expect an on-site evaluation visit. A good dealer should take a personal, thorough look at your home, evaluate your overall comfort needs and recommend the best system for you. Beware of a dealer that simply takes information over the phone.
5. Check local licenses. Depending on where you live, the dealer may have to comply with certain local or state regulations, so ask to see any applicable state and local licenses and insurance forms for liability and workmen's compensation.
6. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Ask for details about the firm's experience, its long-term stability and the expertise of its staff. This is especially true if you're adding air conditioning to an existing home where ductwork must be added. In this case, experience is a factor since it will take more thought, planning and know-how to get the job done.
7. Get a written proposal. To make a fair comparison, be sure the bids you are looking at include the services you've requested and are based on the same size and efficiency equipment and the same quality of workmanship. Be wary of a dealer who offers unrealistically low prices; it may mean corners are being cut in crucial areas.
8. Inquire about equipment and labor warranties. Warranties vary according to manufacturers. Make sure your dealer fully explains the terms of the factory warranty. In addition, many manufacturers offer optional extended warranties, which you may wish to investigate.
9. Ask you dealer about whether or not they offer preventative maintenance agreements. This is one of the best ways to ensure optimum efficiency and performance from your system.
10. Finally, insist on a written and signed agreement. Your home's indoor comfort is important. Don't gamble with it by selecting an air conditioning dealer by chance.