How many times have you called a repairman to your house to do some routine work, only to be informed that what should be basic household maintenance has suddenly transformed into a thousand-dollar investment? It’s a scenario that can leave you feeling powerless, forcing you to place trust in a person who may not have the best of intentions.

Because technicians scamming homeowners is a rampant problem, our friends at Inside Edition have decided to take the matter into their own hands by busting these bad guys before they have a chance to pull another fast one.

Today’s video is part of a series of clips that feature the “House of Shame”, a decoy home that Inside Edition has set up. The house is filled with hidden cameras, which are rigged to record each and every one of the unsuspecting technician’s actions, including the inspection and repair—think “To Catch a Predator,” but with repairmen!

This particular “House of Shame” clip focuses on air duct cleaning, a job that is typically performed by companies who specialize in A/C and heating. Inside Edition reporter Lisa Guerrero, along with a pair of air duct experts, keep covert eyes on the two technicians who are called over to the home for consultations.

men watching hidden camera footageInside Edition

The first repairman barely glances at the ducts; instead, he does a whole lot of THIS:

technician looking a pool cueInside Edition

Yup, that’s him going through the homeowner’s pool cue bag. Yikes!

After performing an exceptionally lazy inspection, he informs the reporter that it will cost a whopping 700 BUCKS to clean her air ducts. This is a particularly troubling diagnosis, considering the experts who have just watched his every move know that the house only needs a simple cleaning.

The second technician manages to complete some work, but only when the “homeowner” is in the room. Once she’s out-of-sight, so is his work ethic. The gall of some people!

How to avoid A/C and heating scams

Since cheats like these are, unfortunately, fairly common, it’s important that you do your due diligence before plunking down hard-earned cash on a potentially non-existent problem.

The good folks at the Better Business Bureau advise A/C repair customers to only hire technicians who either come highly-recommended or have positive ratings online. Along with this, they stress that you get everything in writing BEFORE he/she starts the work. Request a copy of their license and, if you feel that anything is awry, always get a second opinion.

Even if the repairman has plenty of 5-star reviews on Angie’s List and you are satisfied with the price, let him/her know in advance that you would like to keep the broken parts that they have promised to replace. This simple act forces the technician to be honest, thus stamping out a bait-and-switch before they even have a chance to pull one.

We’ve heard stories about repairmen doing lazy work, but these guys really take the cake. To see the cringe-worthy confrontations between Guerrero and the cornered technicians, be sure to watch Inside Edition’s video below. You won’t believe their excuses!

Now that you’ve witnessed these cheating contractors for yourself, we’d like to hear from you. Have you ever been scammed by a repairman? If so, what did you do about it? How do you protect yourself from these scenarios?