MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A grandmother in Maryville thought she was just getting her air conditioner repaired last fall, but instead, a new unit was installed. She approved the transaction through an iPad but says she never received paperwork until months later, finding out she was leasing the new unit.

For several years, some HVAC companies give homeowners the option of renting a new air conditioning system instead of buying it outright. The advantage of leasing a system is continuous maintenance and all repairs are covered. Similar to leasing a vehicle, there are obligations, you are bound to the company for the life of your deal and it’s expensive to end it. However what if, all of this was never explained at the very beginning?

In Maryville, Margaret, her daughter and son-in-law, Donna and Mark Moody, showed WATE 6 the new HVAC system installed at her home.

“I just wanted a check-up. I have it done annually. I use different companies,” said Margaret, who chose not to share her last name.

The company she used for the check-up was R&M Climate Control, a local service experts company. For the repairs, a total of $4500 is what she wrote down on a workup sheet.

“They told me that there were two items in the unit that needed replacement,” Margaret said.

But a new RUUD air conditioner was installed and Margaret didn’t know it. It was several months later, around Thanksgiving, when Mark Moody brought the new unit to his mother-in-law’s attention.

“It was my son-in-law months afterward and he said, do you realize they have replaced the unit? I said, ‘no. I just had some repairs done.’ I went out and low and behold, it is a new unit,” said Margaret.

No new unit was written up on the workup sheet that Margaret jotted down while the sales rep was at her house. She, however, did sign an approval on an iPad. She would later find out that what she approved was a lease agreement for the air conditioner and a new water heater of $207 a month, for 117 months. Margaret claims no one explained in detail what she was actually signing.

“When she signed the iPad, she was saying, ‘I give you authority to go and replace these two parts in my heating and air conditioning unit,'” said Donna, Margaret’s daughter.

To undo the agreement, Service Experts sent this termination letter stating the fee will be $17,959.40 for the HVAC and water heater and $14,640 to turn over the air conditioner to Margaret.

“All I was after were the two parts to be replaced,” said Margaret.

On Margaret’s behalf, WATE wrote to Service Experts 10 days ago.

R&M Climate Control will transfer ownership of a HVAC existing equipment and water heater without any further charges. To be clear, you will have no obligation to make any additional payments under the Service Experts Advantage Lease Program Agreement when signed. You will now own all of your equipment outright at no additional cost.

R&M’s letter to Margaret

In an email to WATE, Service Experts Division VP writes, “As a direct result of your reaching out to us, we were able to investigate the concerns. Our investigation identified internal process failures which have now been corrected. Our goal is and remains to provide 100% satisfaction to our customers.”

The investigation by service experts into Margaret’s case took about a week to resolve.

Margaret and Donna said the company vice-president apologized explaining wrong procedures were followed. Margaret now owns the equipment outright at no additional cost.