Saturday, June 11, 2016

Consumer Alert - Bruno Air Conditioning


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.

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According to the BBB, Bruno Air Conditioning is not accredited and it's rating was revoked in November 2015 by the Better Business Bureau. The BBB says "On 11/18/2015 this company's accreditation in the BBB was revoked by the BBB's Board of Directors due to failure to eliminate the underlying cause of complaints on file with the BBB."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."

Bruno claims his 170 employees make 300 home visits a day in scores of yellow trucks with a Polar Bear graphic on the side. In addition to the Fort Myers office, his website shows offices covering Orlando, Sarasota, Tampa, and the Villages. His taped radio shows are apparently broadcast statewide, with cut ins for each market naming the area of service coverage for that station.

He says he has a 1% to 1 1/2% complaint rate and hires only those who pass drug and national criminal record checks. He's very careful about hiring. Bruno claims that one of the trades taught in prisons is air conditioning and says although ex-cons deserve a second chance, he doesn't hire them. He does like to hire people who are "customer oriented" from restaurants and hotels and train them at his "Bruno University." No air conditioning experience necessary.

His website claims his air conditioning "technicians are all NATE Certified" but a check online at the website North American Technician Excellence, a certifying organization in Arlington, VA, did not show Bruno Air Conditioning in Fort Myers listed, although six other local air conditioning companies were listed. Nonetheless, Bruno's website displays the NATE logo along with the BBB logo.

He says his company buys between $10 and $15 million in parts and supplies each year and trains his employees at "Bruno University."

Bruno promises a one and a half hour visit with a chemical wash of the outside condenser unit which he says will save $200 in electric bills every year. The technician will be checking electrical components, (usually the electrolytic capacitor, a $35 wholesale device, which can fail), check the inside air handler unit drain line which can get clogged and spill water, check and clean the coils, check the blower fan wheel for dust and clean it with chemicals at extra cost along with disassembling the coils at extra cost, check the inside electrical connections (again an inexpensive electrolytic capacitor). You may be asked to install a surge protector, and a UV light unit to kill mold.

The technician will check the duct size, explaining if ducts are undersized your unit will not last as long as designed since it will be running twice a long. You can expect to be told there's mold growing and should be eliminated. And sold an ultraviolet light system, basically one or more UV light bulbs. The UV light bulbs need to be replaced when they burn out at several hundred dollars a pop. Experts say that the ultraviolet systems are not needed. New-Press story on UV light complaint and Bruno.

Bruno is a partner in a biocide company, Biocide USA that will take care of the "mold." Cleaning of coils and blower fans seems to be a large part of Bruno's service profits.

Bruno says he started out at 17 as a helper at a small air conditioning company and now runs one of the fastest growing air conditioner companies in Florida.

Operating as Bruno Air Conditioning of SWFL, a fictitious name for Louis Bruno LLC, on Crooked Creek Lane, in a very large 3-bedroom home in Gateway, Louis Bruno started the Fort Myers business as a 23-year old in September 2012. It appears that he has since moved from that location even though no other address appears for the company on the Secretary of State records.

He bought the assets of Air Genie, owned by Gene Slade, a Bonita Beach company with negative consumer reports and a "D-" rating from the BBB . Some customers complained of over aggressive sales tactics and overcharges for service. Slade now operates Air Ninja LLC. Bruno appears to be following some of the same business practices. See Ripoff Report from former employee of Air Genie.

Louis Bruno LLC now owns the Air Genie company at 4395 Corporate Square, Naples.

The Lipman Connection - Tomatoes And Air Conditioning

The Florida Secretary of State shows Louis Bruno IV a partner with Larry and Arby Lipman in Biocide USA LLC in Cape Coral. The Lipmans also partner with Bruno in ALLLLB Holdings LLC and LJ Stolli LLC at the same South Cargo Court office.

Larry Lipman is the retired CEO and son of the founder of Lipman Produce, Immokalee, the nation's largest producer of tomatoes for the fresh market. Lipman, 68, reportedly bought a 20 percent stake in Bruno's company and one of the investors in the building that houses the Bruno offices. Larry's son, Arby Lipman 27, is one Bruno's friends.

Louis Bruno LLC, the parent company is located at 28731 South Cargo Court #5, Bonita Springs.

Links:

Bruno Air BBB webpage for complaints and BBB Alert
Air Genie BBB page
Check NATE certified technicians by ID here
Check NATE certification by zip code here
BBB Accredited Air Conditioning Contractors

Photo: Google/Bruno Air advertising photo

36 comments:

  1. That was a very informative, well written article. I also have been ripped off by these con artist.

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  2. That was a very informative, well written article. I also have been ripped off by these con artist.

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  3. So very true i was once an employee and this is spot on

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    1. Please contact me at sicsemperbruno@gmail.com

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  4. it's to bad we have over selling or unqualified recommendation making companies. but the article has a few valid points and a hand full of misinformation related to the standards of hvac. but for every good company we have 10 of those guys out in the world. check the bbb check Google.

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  5. Anonymous10:42 AM

    As a recently departed employee of this company, it pained me to not tell the customers the truth out of fear of being unemployed. The illegal and downright evil practices of this company has made nothing but enemies for Mr. Bruno. It is in your best interest to research before buying. Also, when things sound too good to be true in the real world, they most likely are.

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    1. Can you contact me? Sicsemperbruno@gmail.com

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  6. Bruno air is a good company and my brother is the plumbing contractor for Bruno is a very honest person

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    1. Anonymous8:13 PM

      You are sadly: wrong. Bruno is currently being sued in Collier County for "Negligence- Construction Defect". Your brother should pull his license immediately and get as far away as possible.

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    2. Anonymous8:22 PM

      -no matter what he's getting paid, the liability is not worth it.

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  7. Anonymous1:00 PM

    this is one of the most crooked companys aroud,their prices are three times what an average bcompany would charge,and all their techs are not cerified techs but rather highly trained salesman paid on commision,their only goal is to sell you on unnessisary repairs and gimmicky products.the radio show is a pre written script he bought from the air genie company, the sad thing is people wlil continiue to call them and be ripped off by them

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    1. Absolutely true unqualified salesman came to my house and tried to sell me not only things I didn't need but things that were redundant. These people should have their license revoked. You have better luck buying a timeshare

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  8. Anonymous2:00 PM

    I have worked in the HVACR industry for over forty years and have seen companies like this and even (unknowingly worked for a company like this at first)until I started bringing up discrepancies in the way things were done and the result was I was fired with the reason I was paid too much and they couldn't afford me anymore.The real reason was I was too honest for them and some months later the state pulled their license and the owner had to sell . Sooner or later this will happen to this company owner as well just a matter of time.

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  9. Don, I want to preface this message with this isn't to berate you, yet to thank you.

    I tried to comment on your blog, but it doesn't let mine post and gets deleted. I have also Google messaged you, where you shared it, and you haven't responded so I am messaging you here. Reason for the message: Initially, very hurt by your opinions of me and my business I wanted to find out how I could help or to see what I did to you.

    You see, I have thick skin and have heard all of this before. What I really care about is how it Makes my 150+ employees feel, because you're attacking what they stand for as well.

    Secondly, you didn't reach out to me for comment, quotes, opinions, or fact checking. But I guess that's the difference between blogs and journalism- and that's OK because everybody becomes a publisher in social media today.

    See, I'm a very, very, VERY different animal. My energy comes from a place most people haven't realized how to access yet. I am a very sensitive and shy person. I love extremely hard, stand up for what I believe in, and have a vision and a goal to #TTW touch the world.

    Success is only a feeling I know because of how many times I have failed. And I have many, many failures. We have one site that doesn't recommend us, but ten others including Google all rank us #1 or 2 out of thousands. Business isn't me, it's what we stand for as an organization, and what our co workers put out there, and our team cares very hard.

    All of my employees know I would give the shirt off my back, and many, many of them I have paid their rent, their child's doctor bills, funded them for 3 months after heart surgery, and we provide loans so they can get necessary tools or other things to make their lives easier, loaned money to buy houses, but property, paid for their continuing education, put down payments on cars or houses, because I want to surround myself with successful people.

    Here's the thanks. Your blog can't change the opinion of the world, but today everybody becomes a publisher on social media, so this isn't the story of Don Browne. This is the story of the future of business. So small business today only defense when they don't even get a chance to fix mistakes they've made is to eliminate obscurity. To eliminate the world being able to form an opinion about them from a blog or a post versus creating SO MUCH CONTENT that the world knows deep down who they are, what's important to them or their organization, what's important to their husband or wife, what's important to their kids, what's important to their culture or values, what's important to their religion, so that a one time mistake doesn't have an effect on their success.

    Today I vow for the world to know who I am, what my family stands for, what my company stands for, what my failures look like. What our co workers stand for, what we care about, how our customers feel about doing business with us, what the road to the top looks like. How to build a business, a following, how to help somebody, what taking action looks like, how to touch their spirituality, that opinions don't matter, how to show the world how beautiful you really are on the inside. And then reproduce it.

    My only competition is who I was yesterday, and today Don, I thank you because I just ✔️ every box on the 6/17 Louis and will be a better father, husband, co worker, boss, and member of the community because of it!

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    1. I had one of your 2995 hucksters show up at my door for a cleaning. It was all a scam all a sham nothing more then a timeshare pitchman. I had three other reliable companies come in and said I didn't need half of what your guy said I did and could do it for less than half the price. You're a liar and a scam artist. I've warned everybody I know to stay away from your company

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  10. Anonymous7:42 PM

    Yikes.

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  11. Anonymous9:11 PM

    Does this sound like a response that would be given by an honest air conditioning repair man or somebody motivated only buy money and power.

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  12. Anonymous9:28 PM

    Thats how a boss settles it. Its really hard to find honest and valuable employees that will stand for your company. Im a small business owner myself. Ive gone through a few guys since i started on my own. Let alone have over 100 employees. Trust me, i get pissed at mechanics when they tell me i need new brakes or something. Its up to you to make the final decision. You can say "no thank you" and get a second quote. Mostly recommend 3. Im a growing and seemingly popular comtractor for my work. And we all run into issues. We all run into failed trial and errors. If Mr. Bruno himself is trying his best to employee our neighbors on such a scale, he needs to be thanked.
    You go to these people and make suggestions via email or in person.

    Some of us have worked too hard, worked countless hours at night. Lost family time to get projrcts done, just to keep the bills paid and people working.


    Just as long as he is as sincere as he sounds in this. I understand where he is coming from.

    Doctors get sued all of the time. And so do contractors. Its tough and we make mistakes. Even the BBB os important and i dont know the whole story. But there are crooks out there and there are a few good honest people left

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    1. Anonymous10:54 PM

      What was settled? Nothing from the article was addressed...

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  13. Anonymous9:49 PM

    Bruno response is awful. You didn't address ur negative BBB rating and why u still have it in ur sight or your NATE certification not being valid? Why are u,being untruthful on ur web sight?

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  14. journeyman ac techs lol , everyone in the industry knows about you

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  15. Anonymous7:58 AM

    Had similar experience. Built new house (Neal community Palmetto FL) 2014. Installing A/C company called for a courtesy visit to explain the new unit that they installed. At end of instruction they said I had to sign a maintenance agreement ($189 per yr) or the if anything happened the warranty would be voided. I called the manufacturer of my unit and they said warranty was still in effect and contact another A/C company. Bruno sounds like the same scam.

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  16. Anonymous10:45 AM

    If any of the people commenting were in the trade they wouldn't be saying half of what they are saying. There are so many hvac contractors that do this exact same thing. Louis has built a company from the ground up at age 27. Can any one of you say you have created one of the most well known Co.PA is in the state you are in by the time you were 27? Didn't think so. He's got things that need to be fixed, but so does every other Contractor in the country. He's young and new to the industry, he will correct the things he needs to fixate if he doesn't well then he knows his company won't last. I must say at least he isn't doing what action heating and cooling does to their employees and customers. He is a 27 yr old man with a multi million dollar company, what did you do at the age of 27? He is one of the youngest contractors in the state, he will figure out his path and still succeed as long as he corrects his flaws.

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    1. Anonymous11:27 AM

      I am in the trade. The company I work for has been in business here for 40 years. Sure, there are contractors that do the same thing- but none of them stay around long. The companies that have been around for more than a couple of decades- you don't see articles or blogs like this one written about them. The comment a couple above yours is spot on: all the way from Journeymen to the License Holder: the industry in SW Fl has heard these stories about this particular individual. What is unfortunate is that consumers seem to be catching on a little later. Now, I'm sure Bruno AC does a lot of excellent work, but there is no excuse for claiming BBB Accredition when you don't have it, they haven't been BBB Accredited for months. There is a history of not pulling permits as evidenced through records searches on the County and State levels. This is a simple thing to do, that costs the Contractor (homeowner) money. Besides that there is no reason not to pull a permit, as it is required in EVERY swap out, NO EXCEPTIONS! What difference does it make how big the company is, if the consumer isn't being treated properly, or the contractor isn't following the law (permits)? And quite frankly, touting the hiring of people unfamiliar with the field should be frightening to the consumer. It takes YEARS to become a competent AC mechanic. I wouldn't want someone with limited experience working on a high-voltage system, with hundreds of components in my home, and you shouldn't either. I hope Mr. Bruno addresses these apparent issues, because it is great that he employs a lot of our local residents, but there is an aspect of public trust that needs to be taken into account as well.

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  19. Wow - my experience with the Company has been Amazing & this post reminds me of what it could be like if you were a Crab in a Bucket - We are all human and we all learn from our last mistake; hence, the way I see it, everyone has their own experience and it is up to us as Consumers & Business Owners to learn & grow; however that may look to you :)

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  20. Anonymous6:11 PM

    I had a sales person come to my house and tell me about how great my unit was that it was a $5,000 unit and it was only two years old but yet he wrote me up an estimate because he said that it needed UV lights and new duct work when all of that had just been done I was more interested in the maintenance agreement but the estimate that he rode up on the machine that he said was such a great machine and that it was a $5,000 machine he wrote me up an estimate for $4,800. So I said to the people in the office when I called to ask them if they were kidding about the estimate, the first thing they wanted to do is refund the money for the yearly maintenance agreement. I told them I had three choices I could either have them replace the whole unit which would have cost us over $5,000 or have them repair the one with these $4,800 UV lights so then I would have a $9,800 system. Or they could send the same salesperson Bank so I could berate him for him even thinking that I was stupid enough to give them another $4,800 on top of the system being a brand new system so yes these guys are rip-off artists there con artists their salespeople the main thing that they do is try to make you think that you don't have a brain to think with and that you need everything under the sun. They also tell you at the end of the broadcast okay folks we only have enough room for two more callers at the $29 rate after that it goes up to 189 and then they take another 50 calls for the $29 so yes I'm very well for miliar with this outfit and I do find it awfully funny that when you question them the first thing that they want to do is refund your money just so that you'll keep your mouth shut.

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  21. Anonymous6:10 PM

    I've gone to give estimates on ac units they had said needed to be replace only to find it didn't need replaced and was still under warranty. Always get a second or third opinion. Most of us will give you a second opinion or estimate free. Especially if that company is involved

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  22. Anonymous9:33 AM

    A con artist exposed. Great article and irrefutable. Bruno uses a psychology based selling system that he carried over from Air Genie. (Gene Slade) Like Bruno, Gene was successful narcissistic sociopath. It's not about fixing your air conditioner or clearing your drain line. It's about how to overcome objections and instill fear into the consumer making them vulnerable to the looming upsell attack. Bruno University does not provide technical training as he claims in his nauseating commercials, it creates "Selling Technicians" who essentially know nothing about air conditioning. It's not a sustainable business model but is very profitable until the bubble bursts. The UV lights mentioned cost Bruno about $60-70 apiece. You should never need more than one...if you even need one at all. Sadly, Bruno is not the only one doing this. Consumers also need to be aware of Action Cooling of Fort Myers and several others. ALWAYS get a 2nd opinion. I recommend that you don't do business with the manufacturers and their representatives that enable Bruno to prosper. (Trane, Rheem, Nest, Unitary Products-York. IE: Johnson Controls.) I encourage everybody to forward this article to friends and family. It's time for this star to burn out.

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  23. A reminder to readers that all comments are only the opinion of the comment writer and that companies and business owners mentioned should be researched for complaints made to the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, Google, and other websites to verify any allegations before you form an opinion or hire a business. - Editor

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  24. Anonymous11:24 AM

    I'm currently dealing with this company now 9/24/16 and just found this article when looking up information on a unit they just installed two months ago. My AC unit stopped cooling on Tuesday and the company Bruno Lewis stated someone would be by Wednesday to repair the issue, however the unit was not repaired until yesterday. I have been dealing with 86 degree and higher temperatures in my home for 3 1/2 days. While I understand ordering parts, I'm a little confused why it took that long for a new compressor for your "signature series"? However, more importantly it was repaired yesterday and started cooling but, again stopped working after 12 hours! They replaced the compressor, however they didn't repair the issue that caused the compressor to go out in the first place! Bruno stated this morning 9/24/16 that I was on the "high priority list", which we hope is today. I have a few questions for this company:

    1. Did you check the air flow for the unit? Is this unit closely meeting the 1,400 CFM?
    2. Did they check the charge (refrigerant levels) for the unit? Was it low? If so, did they check for a leak?
    3. Was the evaporate coil checked and/or frozen over?
    4. Was the condenser coil checked?
    6. When you installed the unit 2 months ago, I understand you stated it "needed" to be cleaned because you stated it was moldy, however did you ensure there were no leaks so the unit would run as efficiently as possible?
    5. Also, when you complete your repairs why don't you leave a service ticket for the customer, stating what was repaired or replaced, along with all the readings that were taken on the unit?

    I just don't understand why a compressor would go out on a 2 month old unit installed by Bruno, unless something was seriously installed incorrectly.


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  25. Everyone wants to have a energy-efficient and cost-effective system at his place.Air conditioning products of good brands have more benefits. They are energy efficient units with benefits of mobility, easy installation, cost and convenience. Moreover they are ideal for small homes.If you are thinking of purchasing a new air conditioner try to go for energy star products because they have high energy performance.
    http://www.airmart.com.au/products/

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