Online contact forms are not always what they seem

Posted By on December 22, 2016

Speed kills … and being rushed can make people do stupid things, that would be me in this case. I was in a hurry to get a HVAC replacement estimate after scavengering parts off of one furnace to keep the other running — both need to be replaced.

ConsumerReportFurnaceACWhile researching gas furnaces and air conditioner replacements, I checked with Consumer Reports for a list of the most reliable brands. Since American Standard and Trane were at the top of their list (along with our current 21 year old Bryant equipment), I started the HVAC dealer search in our area by brand. Finding a couple companies with recognizable names, I called a couple and left a message and for the other I filled out the online form without thinking. “Hm, this is a professional looking site for a small contractor … and look,  they do other things too?” That last statement should have been enough for me to resist offering up my email, address and cellphone number!

Within minutes, my phone started to receive multi-part automated text messages as well as phone calls from the marketing arms (hired guns) of different companies … some with area codes all over the country. Emails too with the “do not respond to this email address directly” request, but instructions to click the link and fill out yet another online form. Am I the only one who doesn’t plan on using ANY company marketing in this way?

Eventually I was able to connect with the company who hosts the original offending site and they said they could removed “my request” from their database (so they say), but that the contact information had already been sent to they subscribing contractors. To make matters worse, the calls are coming in offering services other than what I was even looking for.

Lesson (again): Don’t give out private information unless you are 100% sure it is going only to the person you intend to received it … and even then, be sure they do not resell or give that information out to others. (BTW, normally I’ll use a Google Voice phone number and return the call only if I wanted too … but as I said, I was in a hurry.)


  • If you are looking at both Furnace and A/C, with your land you might look into GeoThermal. The cost of both is included in the one unit for Geo, but you also have additional cost of the loops drilled. It’s probably $20k up front, but I’m guessing you would save $2-3k a year on average. It all depends on how long you plan to stay if you think you can make up the additional loop costs in ~10 years?

    • Thanks Tim. I would “if” we didn’t have natural gas. Forced air natural gas is a pretty comfortable way to heat and nowadays with the SEER 19 efficiency AC units, it is hard to save enough to make up the GeoThermal install loops. I’d opt for that in a heartbeat if Propane, Oil or Electric were my only options.

      • That is the thing! For me I don’t have the option for nat gas, so I’m pure electric and previously on oil. Prev owner was spending $5k+ on winter oil and both AC and Furnace needed replacing. If Nat gas stays cheap it’s hard to ever make up the costs.

        • It is an excellent (but costly) improvement for you … and if you are staying a few year, a worthwhile improvement. My sister-in-law (no NG) is looking at GeoThermal and would be a great choice over their heat pump.

Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.