PHOENIX (Wednesday, April 25, 2012) -- Attorney General Tom Horne today announced that a consent agreement has been reached between the Attorney General's office and American Residential Services, L.L.C., a home heating and air conditioning repair company. The company had been accused in a September, 2011 filing in Pima County Superior Court of numerous violations of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act, including false, misleading and deceptive sales tactics involving older consumers.
American Residential Services operates under that name as well as operating several other companies in Pima, Maricopa, Cochise and Yavapai counties. The other companies include ARS, ARS Rescue Rooter, Goettl Air Conditioning, and Russett Services.
Under the terms of the consent agreement, the company agrees to make significant and substantial changes to the way it does business.
“I am very pleased that this company has agreed to this judgment,” Horne said. “Millions of people in Arizona rely heavily on HVAC companies to provide essential services to consumers. Those companies must operate with integrity and professionalism. This agreement ensures that American Residential Services will make the necessary changes to ensure they are doing that.”
The Consent Judgment requires that American Residential Services, ARS Rescue Rooter, Goettl Air Conditioning and Russett Services do the following:
- Prior to any sale, give consumers a written contract of the equipment and services ARS is selling and have the consumers sign the contract before ARS commences work.
- Have a written policy that prohibits the use of financial incentives to motivate its employees to engage in improper promotion and/or marketing.
- Ensure that any statement or implication that safety concerns necessitate the immediate replacement of an HVAC or plumbing system is true, in the ARS technician's expert opinion.
- Advertise in a clear, prominent, truthful and non-misleading manner. Disclaimers must not contradict any other information in the advertisement.
- Make truthful representations about affiliation with or membership in any trade or professional organization, including the BBB.
- Discontinue dissemination of any advertising that represents, through the use of federal, state, or local government logos or language, that the advertisement is an official governmental notice.
- Pay the Attorney General's Office $240,000 for consumer restitution; and
- Pay the Attorney General's Office $155,000 for attorney's fees.
Consumers who have not yet filed complaints with the Attorney General or the Better Business Bureau may be eligible for restitution if they file complaints with the Attorney General by June 4, 2012.
This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Noreen Matts of the Consumer Protection and Advocacy Section.
If you believe you have been a victim of consumer fraud, please contact the Attorney General's Office in Phoenix at (602) 542-5763, in Tucson at (520) 628-6504, or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at 1(800) 352-8431. Consumers can also file complaints online by visiting the Attorney General's web site at www.azag.gov. To file a complaint in person, the Attorney General has satellite offices throughout the state. Location and hours of operation are posted on the Attorney General's web site.