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For three days the temperature hovered around ninety five degrees, not terrible in the shade with the breeze, but insufferable inside. We live on a budget so we just put up with the heat and our broken central air conditioner. It clicked and hummed, then clicked again. But no cool air, no air at all.

Then I noticed an air conditioning van in the street, stopped at our drive. One hour later he emerged from our neighbor's door only five feet from mine. I asked him if he would look at our broken air conditioner while he was here. He immediately got on his cell phone and called the office who insisted on collecting the sixty dollar fee for coming out. I argued that he was already here, but to no avail.

Fifteen minutes later this boy technician informed me that the compressor was shot and it would cost fifteen hundred dollars to replace it. Not good news. I told him we'd think about it and gave him the sixty dollars. Not being one to give up, I got out my trusty volt ohm meter and proceeded to test the circuitry. Lo and behold I found that the capacitor to the fan was shorted. This device stores electricity to jump start the large fan motor, just like in a refrigerator. There was nothing wrong with the compressor at all!

We notified the AC company who said "No refunds. Period.” So being the coward that I am, I asked my wife (who can get justifiably sharp when wronged) accompany me to the establishment to get our money back. I sent her in alone where she argued for ten minutes with no results. Then she informed them that all one hundred sixty five units that used his service would hear of his terrible customer service program by the next day. Two minutes later she emerged with the sixty dollars. Cash.

Back at the ranch, I gleaned a capacitor from a local air conditioning junk pile and installed it. It's still working fine. We ordinary citizens are at the mercy of the experts, but we also have the right to protect ourselves from the crooks.

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