FORT MYERS, FL. — 27-year old air conditioning business owner Louis Joseph Bruno IV buys lots of radio time for weekend hour-long early morning radio shows, and frequent daily spot ads featuring $29.95 air conditioning maintenance checkups by his four-year old Bruno Air Conditioning of SWFL.
UPDATE January 2019: Bruno’s company Bruno Total Home Performance is reportedly being investigated by the Florida Attorney General Office in a consumer protection investigation after 90 complaints were made about his business practices.
Bruno wants to sell you maintenance contracts, “Bruno Signature Series” air conditioners, mold protection units, surge protectors, and do all your electrical and plumbing work. And they love to take your air conditioner system apart and clean all the components.
But before you give anyone your business that may take thousands of dollars from your pocket, it’s a good idea to do a bit of checking on the company through the BBB and other references. We did, and found some interesting facts.
According to the BBB, Bruno Air Conditioning is not accredited and it’s rating was revoked in November 2015 by the Better Business Bureau. The BBB says “On 11/18/2015 this company’s accreditation in the BBB was revoked by the BBB’s Board of Directors due to failure to eliminate the underlying cause of complaints on file with the BBB.”
The BBB says Bruno had 30 complaints made to them in three years, and 23 in the last 12 months, including 20 complaints about service and products, six about sales and adverting, three about billing and collection, and one about guarantees.
The BBB said, “BBB has received a pattern of complaints from consumers alleging that the business misdiagnosed or misrepresented issues related to repair or replacement, which lead to higher costs or estimates for the consumers. Additional complaints allege issues with the quality of service performed when the business is repairing or installing an air conditioner.”
“In July 2015, BBB sent a request to the business to address this pattern and what actions the business has taken to help eliminate the causes of complaints. The business does not believe that it has a pattern of complaints, and stated that it believes in being upfront and honest with its customers about issues or potential issues their air conditioning may have.”
Despite the BBB accreditation revocation and complaints, Bruno’s website still carries the “BBB Accredited Business” logo.
In further checking their air conditioning contractor license, Bruno Air had a complaint (#2014006671) filed with the Department of Professional Business Regulation February, 13, 2014 and a citation was filed May 8.
Bruno also advertises they want your electrical and plumbing business. Their electric division sells house surge protectors, and the plumbing section sells drain cleaning.
Bruno does not personally have a state plumbing or electrical license, but instead uses the licenses of others who are not owners of Bruno’s company. Consumer protection experts say use caution hiring companies using licenses of other people who are not actual owners of the company.
Bruno uses a non-owner of his company, John P. Cordone as the qualifying agent for his new plumbing contracting service. Cordone has a complaint (#2015052414) filed with the DPBR for unlicensed activity December 3, 2015 and was issued a notice to cease and desist December 17. He did get a license a short time later on January 8, 2016. Cordone has his office address at a 3-bedroom home in Cape Coral.
Bruno uses a non-owner Stephen Mohrbacker, as the qualifying agent for electrical contracting. Mohrbacker has been licensed as an electrical contractor since September 2014 at a 4-bedroom home office in Naples and has operated SGM Electric Service LLC since 2014.
What Do You Get For $29.95?
Responding to an ad for an AC check up, what one of Bruno’s employees will try to sell you after the radio advertised $29.95 checkup is a yearly maintenance agreement and in some cases a Bruno “Signature Series” air conditioner unit, a home surge protector, cleaning of the air handler coils and fan and maybe new ducts. Chances are Bruno admits, you’ll end up writing a check for a lot more than $29,95.
Bruno says 82% of customers visited buy a maintenance agreement, with 70% renewing for “life.” He claims on his recorded weekend radio show to sell 300 to 500 maintenance agreements each month.
Despite the $29.95 radio offer, additional service charges can be expected for disassembling and cleaning coils and fans with a chemical spray, and for new parts and equipment installed.
It’s not clear if Bruno’s technicians are paid on commission, as most air conditioning company’s techs are actually sales agents. Bruno does say he hires people with no experience from the hospitality industry, hotels and restaurants, and trains them at his “Bruno University.”