By Kelly Stone
Comfort Control, Grants Pass, OR
Over the coming months the US~Observer is going to be exposing one of the most vile industries and rackets to exist today – Insurance. While it is important to note that this industry was born out of need, and some companies do act responsibly, the simple fact that it is mandated under law has allowed this industry to prey on the very public who subscribe to their policies. In many cases, insurance companies refuse to pay-out claims filed in good faith and under the terms of their agreement. These insurance companies hire individuals whose job is to find ways of not paying. Paying out claims results in lower revenue, and all business unfortunately, when you take into the account the human toll, is about the bottom line.
As previously stated, there are great companies out there who help many people whose homes or cars have been destroyed, or whose lives have been touched by accident, disease or sickness, even death; but, the fortunes made inthe industry haven’t been done so on compassion.
We are seeking stories and facts on individuals who have faced issues with insurance companies. We will be featuring those complaints that check-out. We will then be reporting the findings on the companies that have caused so much grief to those involved. We’ll even be featuring companies not related to the insurance industry, but have wronged people so severely as to warrant a public notice. Or, like our first feature, it has to do with both.
-Oil-Furnace Mayhem –
Business Complaint against: Comfort Control Inc.
Business Type: Oregon Corporation: Installing and Servicing Heating and Air Conditioning
Location: Grants Pass, Oregon
Insurance Complaint against: Federated Insurance
Location: Glendale, Arizona – Owatonna, MN
In 2004, a Grants Pass, Oregon family purchased a new Lennox oil furnace from Comfort Control through its Registered Agent Mario Spagnolo.
Comfort Control installed a Lenox oil furnace and agreed to service it.
The family used the new furnace sparingly from 2004-2007 as they had a large stockpile of firewood and a heatilator that provided heat for their home at a much lower cost than burning oil.
On 9-20-07 Comfort Control made a service call to repair the ducting under the family’s home due to “Low Air Flow.” They stated on their invoice: “Inspected ducts under house” and “Replaced ducting under the home and re-inspected system.” Customer was charged $275.00
On 12-23-09 Comfort Control made a service call because the home owner’s Lennox oil furnace had quit working. Comfort Control sent their service technician “Brett” out to fix the problem. The family was charged $128.00. Shortly after the repair, the Lennox furnace again quit working. Brett came back to the home and changed the same part he had originally changed. He stated that it could have been a “bad nozzle.”
Within a couple days the Lennox furnace began having minor explosions within the chamber. Brett came back to the home and supposedly fixed the problem. At this time there was considerable soot on the outside of the furnace and floor. A few days later there was a major explosion within the furnace and Comfort Control again sent Brett to the home. On this occasion soot had blown through the duct system into a bathroom and the kitchen. He “fixed” the furnace and assured the home owner that they wouldn’t be charged any further amount, that he had fixed it, and that there was absolutely no danger from the explosions; that it was un-burnt oil in the chamber causing the problem. Shortly thereafter, the furnace had another major explosion and this time the owner of Comfort Control Mario Spagnolo arrived at the home to fix the furnace. The original soot had been cleaned-up and there was now more soot on the front of the furnace, the floor around it, the kitchen and bathroom upstairs. Spagnolo determined that a major part was defective after hooking up testing equipment to the furnace, something Brett never did. He subsequently replaced the part, assured the home owner that there were no dangers involved and apologized for the problem of getting the furnace fixed. Even though the Fiber Ducting was staring him straight in the face, and he was completely aware that soot had entered the home, Spagnolo conveniently failed to mention any clean-up.
A short time after the final service call, the home owner received an additional bill from Comfort Control in the amount of $175.00. The home owner contacted Mario Spagnolo of Comfort Control because he had been told there wouldn’t be any more charges. Spagnolo apologized and stated that the billing was an oversight by his office and nothing was owed. He told the home owner that he had fired Brett, the technician that showed his incompetence by the multiple times he was unable to fix the Lennox furnace, and shared with the home owner that he had experienced other problems with Brett. Spagnolo obviously told the home owner this factual information in an attempt to regain the home owner’s confidence.
Important Note: At no time did Comfort Control tell the home owners that they needed to have the duct system cleaned and they were fully aware that the home had a Fiber Duct System. Remember, Comfort Control had repaired the duct system under the home on 9-20-07 and Fiber Ducts were very visible during all repairs and service calls made by Comfort Control. And, they knew that Fiber Ducts cannot be cleaned. They either knew or should have known at this time that the Fiber Duct System was full of soot, which would eventually enter the home.
The furnace appeared to work fine for the short remainder of 2009.
In 2010, the home owner used the Lennox oil furnace almost exclusively. In October of 2010, one of the home owners developed a cough that persisted throughout the winter.
Sometime around 4-20-11 the home owner’s started noticing oil soot in the living room of their home. During the following week they noticed more soot in more locations in the home.
On 4-22-11 the home owner called another heating and air conditioning company out to their home to have them look at the problem. At this point they didn’t know how serious the soot problem was. Unbelievably, when the new company arrived, Brett, who had been “fired” from Comfort Control, appeared at the home. The home owner was waiting in the garage by the Lennox oil furnace and as Brett approached he stated, “Oh no, not this furnace again.” The home owner was thinking of how to get rid of Brett when he walked over to the furnace and began checking it. The home owner decided to see what he had to say. Brett stated that the furnace was burning correctly, that it didn’t need any service work and he replaced the air filter. He then told the home owner that he needed to call Abbey Road’s to have them clean the furnace and ducts due to the fact that there was soot on the front of the furnace and floor around the furnace.
The home owner called Abbey Road’s and they came to the home on 4-25-11. They cleaned the furnace and laid out their hoses to clean the ducting. Shortly after they finished with the furnace, the service technician informed the home owner that they could not clean Fiber Ducting because the ducting would fall apart. He poked his finger through a Fiber Duct Vent in the garage and stated, “See what I mean.”
The home owner then called Spagnolo at Comfort Control and left a message. Spagnolo called the home owner and came to the home on 4-27-11. During the couple days after Abbey Road’s were at the home the home owners discovered there was even more oil soot throughout the home than previously thought. When Spagnolo was shown the soot problem, he stated that he would need to think about the problem. Spagnolo also stated at this time, “the oil obviously came from the furnace; we need to decide what to do about it.” Later that day Spagnolo called the home owner and stated, “I had to turn this over to my insurance and they will be contacting you.” The Insurance called the home owner and took his statement…
A short time later the home owner filed a claim with his own insurance company, and subsequently, they paid a restoration company in excess of $22,000 to clean the home.
On 6-10-11, after the home was cleaned, after the entire duct system had been replaced, after the Lennox oil furnace was replaced with a Heat-Pump and after the oil was removed from the oil tank, the home owner wrote a Demand Letter to Mario Spagnolo of Comfort Control for his deductible and other items that weren’t covered by his own insurance company.
On 6-17-11, Federated Insurance notified the home owner, “We have completed our investigation into the facts of this loss and have determined that our insured would not be legally liable for the damages to your home. We assigned an independent adjuster to assist our investigation. His investigation concluded that the exact cause of the release of soot into your home is currently unknown and liability has not been proven against our insured.
“Our policy provides coverage for losses for which our insured would be found legally liable. As we feel our insured would not be legally liable, we must decline any payments for your damages.” The letter was signed by Brian T. Murphy, Claims Supervisor.
Proof of Comfort Control’s Liability
In 2007 and during the entire business relationship between Comfort Control and the home owner, Comfort Control knew that the home owner had Fiber Ducting and Comfort Control knew or should have known that moisture will rapidly deteriorate Fiber Ducting. They knew that soot is moist and that it can’t be removed from Fiber Ducting. They absolutely knew or should have known that when a Lennox oil furnace experiences explosions that send soot into the home, that the Ducting has considerable soot content. They never mentioned cleaning the Ducts to the homeowner, because this would have exposed the damage caused to the ducts in 2009, as a direct result of the explosions, via the incompetence of Comfort Control’s technician.
Further, as happened in this case, as the furnace sent heated air into the home at the end of 2009 and during 2010, it also sent particles of soot throughout the entire home right along with the hot air. Mario Spagnolo admitted in front of the home owner and a third party witness that the soot came from the furnace. This statement was somewhat childish, given the fact that the oil furnace was the only source of oil on the home owner’s property. Comfort Control installed the Furnace and had made themselves responsible for all service work done to the Lennox oil furnace. Further, they made themselves responsible for the results from their inadequate and negligent service work.
Comfort Control sent an incompetent service technician named Brett to the home in 2009. This was related to the homeowner by Spagnolo himself by the fact that Spagnolo told the home owner that he fired Brett and that he had other problems with him. If Brett the technician had tested the Lennox oil furnace like Spagnolo did on Comfort Control’s 5th service call, there would have been no explosions and therefore no soot in the home.
Comfort Control has the following Motto on their website, which they use to entice people to purchase products and service of those products from them, “We Stand Behind Our Work.” Comfort Control did not stand behind their work in this case, and therefore the Motto is false and we conclude that they are providing false advertising to the public.
In the highly qualified opinion of the US~Observer and its staff, we find that Federated Insurance is a crooked insurance company, who fails to stand behind the businesses they insure. In other words, instead of being ethical and covering their obvious losses, they attempt to screw damaged people.
We opine that Comfort Control has acted unethically with this home owner, and that they do not deserve any future business from the people of Josephine County, Oregon who are concerned about honesty, ethics and the possibility of having dangerous oil soot throughout their entire home.
The home owner is now going after Comfort Control legally and most importantly in the Court of Public Opinion – the Court that really matters. The home owners don’t have any business with Federated Insurance, as they had no business dealings with them.
Have you been cheated by an insurance company or unethical business? Send us all the pertinent facts and your contact info. to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will see what the court of public opinion can do about your problem.