Placebo Effect

Good article on “Placebo Stats” [March 31]. I’m sorry I missed the survey!

No question they work. We did this at our corporate headquarters for Robertshaw back in the early 70s to take care of a lady in the tax department. After the pneumatic placebo was installed, nothing changed. She would drop the setpoint a few degrees, and within an hour, she would put her sweater back on.

[Dan] Int-Hout is correct; education does work. We once had the opportunity to change all stats in two identical dorm buildings at the University of Tennessee before the new crop of students arrived. For one building, we just installed and left. For the other building, we made a sign to place on the desk in each room for the new arriving students. This sign began with “ Hi, I’m your new thermostat,” and proceeded to explain how it worked. The difference in the damage inflicted on stats between the two dorms was amazing.

Thanks again for article.

Tom Hardy , VP & General Manager, Trox USA Inc., Alpharetta, Ga.

Be Thorough

In 1963, I was asked to co-author a book that would discuss profitable strategies for HVACR contractors. The book was titledProfit Book.

John R. Hall’s article on callbacks [“Finding Ways To Reduce Callback Rates,” April 21] reminded me of the seven practices that technicians should follow to help reduce callback rates outlined in that book.

1. You can’t take anything for granted. You can’t wish anything through. It’ll only work right when you make it work right.

2. When the job’s all done, take five more minutes to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. Take a quick visual check-off of switches, controls, lubrication, etc. Clean up the area and wipe off your fingerprints. Tool collection alone will pay for this step.

3. Always find the leaks. If there’s a gas shortage, it’s a 50-to-1 shot that there’s a leak. Often the first one you find is not the worst one. Thoroughly leak-check the entire system.

4. Always ask yourself why. Why did the motor fail? Why did the control get out of adjustment? Why did the coil get dirty? It is silly to make a repair if the same thing will reoccur.

5. Make a fair maintenance inspection. Chances are, there were several things wrong before you get the call. Repair the obvious but look for the hidden.

6. If you are not sure, call it in. None of us know it all — we get stuck occasionally. Regardless of your problem, someone in the office has the answer.

7. Keep the customer informed of dollars. When customers know in advance what you are doing is of value, they are far less apt to blow their stack when the bill arrives.

For more information on preventing callbacks, e-mail the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) at or visit

Aaron York, Aaron York’s Quality Air , Conditioning & Heat Inc., Indianapolis

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Publication date: 05/12/2003