Furnace company claims reinvention after CTV probe
Darcy Wintonyk & Lynda Steele, CTV British Columbia
Published Thursday, January 31, 2013 6:00AM PST
Last Updated Thursday, January 31, 2013 8:49PM PST
Months after a CTV investigation revealed unscrupulous tactics and questionable practices, a Metro Vancouver furnace company says it’s completely reinvented itself – and is working hard to earn the trust of clients.
Last year, the hidden camera investigation caught a furnace technician from Pro Ace Heating and Cooling on tape suggesting a $500 fix for a furnace that had just been deemed in great working condition by an independent furnace expert.
Pro Ace owner Ali Soroush was incensed by CTV’s hidden camera sting and insisted that while his competitors were cheaters, his employees were not. Soroush did admit the technician caught on tape was unprofessional and he was promptly fired.
After the investigation Soroush opened a new furnace company out of the same office as Pro Ace, and sold several discounted daily deal coupons for $29 furnace inspections on sites including Groupon, Dealfind and Social Shopper until it was outed online as being the same furnace company exposed by CTV News.
But now Soroush has changed his tune, and says he’s changed his ways. He recently contacted Lynda Steele and invited her to an employee's home in Burnaby to announce he had learned his lesson and was anxious to repent and reinvent.
When asked what he learned from the hidden camera investigation, Soroush said he trusted his employees too much: “As the president of the company, normally when I hire people I trust them and I understood sometimes that is not enough, so you have to be more involved and support our employees," he said.
Soroush has developed a new software program that lets him monitor and support his technicians real-time in the field.
"If you fill something out improperly, or that's not to the manufacturers setting or not to code, there will be a red flag that pops up," said Pro Ace furnace technician Matthew Kokai.
“The technician has to fill out 40 questions online. If anything looks amiss, head office gets in touch,” said Soroush. "This helps us to be there for them, answering their questions, reviewing their work,"
Soroush says the computer program now helps him catch mistakes and prevent any unprofessional behaviour in the field.
The Better Business Bureau revoked Pro Ace's accreditation last year shortly after the CTV investigation, but the company can reapply in February.
"The company needs to not get complaints with the Better Business Bureau. They need to walk the walk. They need to follow our standards of membership," said Simone Lis, vice president of operations for the Better Business Bureau of Mainland, B.C.
Soroush is determined to get back in the BBB's good books. Pro Ace Heating has not had any new complaints filed, but the BBB will take its time deciding if Soroush is fulfilling his promise to do business differently.