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Using the L(whatever)S

About a year ago, while I was gallivanting around, and paying someone about three times too much to stay at my house and dogsit while they were renting their place out via AirBNB, my thermostat failed. In December. The day after Xmas.

Now this isn’t Buffalo. It’s not life-threatening. But having spent a cold winter shivering without a heater (Dirtbag climber dude thought process: “Ah, 52 F. That’s not that cold. I’ve been way colder than that lots of nights! I can make it through to spring!”), hanging out in a 52 F house wears on you. Especially if you are a skinny little actress. I would imagine. It was a long winter for me, and I am a big warm slab of beef, aside from my frost-nipped toes.

After that miserable winter, I had the 100 year old floor heater ripped out and a modern central air system put in, forthwith. I don’t use it much, but it’s very nice to have. When you want it, you want it.

With the nine hour time difference, and the basic incompetence of a $75/night housesitter, I spent a lot of nights in Spain standing in the dark or the rain where my phone had reception (cause the climber bungalow didn’t, but the clearing across the road did). After climbing, after dinner, and instead of sleeping, or hanging out, or having a drink on a cold night. Trying to mediate between a flaky person’s schedule and the HVAC company that just didn’t give a shit. Plus holidays. I should have been living it up with the other climbers over warm sangria and sleeping late, and instead I was lying awake at night wondering if my dogs were being taken care of by someone who was clearly not that together.

Eventually the HVAC people made it out to everyone’s maximal inconvenience, and I sat in a hotel room in Gandia looking up thermostat prices on Amazon (because they couldn’t tell me via email, or in advance (“gotta look at your system first”. “You installed it, why don’t you just look it up?” “Oh, we don’t keep records.”).

They wanted close to a grand to install a Nest or Ecobee – $500 for the $250-everywhere-else thermostat, and $400 or $450 to install it.

Clearly that was bullshit and not gonna happen.

So I went with the $67 el cheapo thermostat that they charged $250 for (believe me, I argued with them about this), and only $250 for installation that took less than an hour. I know because I was on the phone the whole time.

Truly a blue light special, this thermostat was lit by a blue LCD screen that I had to cover with a cardboard flap, as it lit up the whole house at night otherwise.

A few days ago, I saw that the Ecobee was on sale, and right next to it was a button that said “Amazon installation: $77”. Really?!? I pulled the trigger and said goodbye to the blue light special even though it had cost me $$$ and worked well enough.

It would have been easy enough to install the new thermostat myself, but there’s a lot to be said for someone coming in and doing in 30 minutes what would take me a couple of hours of reading instructions and looking at videos.

The Amazon contractor showed up at the beginning of the window, was polite and friendly, called and told me what time he would be there, then was!, and came in and got it done. $77 for 30 minutes work, $169 for the thermostat. Which seems about right. For what Air-Tro would have charged close to $1000.

Like the LBS and LHS, I would like for the local HVAC to stay in business. I want to use them to install a new system and do maintenance (for which they have jacked up the biannual price to $200/visit, for 45 minutes work, and for which they never show up on time, even though I arrange for the first appointment of the day). I want to be able to call them and get shit done. But for a reasonable price.

But I don’t see how, when the basic mode is rip-off everything you can get your hands on for all you are worth.

So good riddance, LHVAC. Go join the LBS and LHS in local business graveyard. I’ll be a bit sorry. But like the LBS and LHS (and taxis!), the grave you are digging is your own.