Burnt by a Broker:
A Contractor's Tale

Once upon a time, there was a very hard-working contractor, not unlike yourself. He ran his own HVAC business and although his days were long and tiring, he was proud of what he built. Over time, our hero’s business became successful and he began to accumulate recovered refrigerant, hoping to wisely one day take advantage of the market for a hefty pot of gold… Continue Below…

One day, as our hero is hard at work, a BIG, BAD BROKER sneaks upon him and says,

“What are you going to do with this refrigerant here?”

Our hero, not knowing it is dangerous to talk to the BIG, BAD BROKER, says, “Well sir, that there is my daughter’s college tuition. I’ve been collecting it over time to one day sell it to a reclaimer for a big check!”

Now, as the BIG, BAD BROKER tries to contain himself, mouth salivating over our hero’s bounty, he says “Well sir, it is your lucky day as I am a reclaimer and I’ve come to offer you that check.”

Our hero, not yet under the spell of the BIG, BAD BROKER, says, “My what big lies you have!”

Now the BIG, BAD BROKER, being the sly fox that he is says, “All the better to trick you with!”

And, saying these words, the BIG, BAD BROKER continues to put our hero in a trance and proceeds to steal his daughter’s tuition, his retirement, and anything else he can grab.

Much later, as our hero has waited, and waited, and waited, and tried, and tried, and tried to contact the BIG, BAD BROKER, he finally receives an email, as it is the only the BIG, BAD BROKER will contact him after stealing his refrigerant and finds out that his gas is mixed. The BIG, BAD BROKER proclaims to him “Oh, your 30-lb cylinder is pure, but your 1/2-ton is mixed. You’re going to have to pay me disposal fees now!”

Moral of the story: Little Susy doesn’t get to go to college. Don’t let the BIG, BAD BROKER deceive you. They are not reclaimers and although they can promise you the world, they are more likely to lie, cheat, and steal from you.

What is a broker?

By definition, a broker is a person who buys and sells goods or assets for others. Brokers are found in nearly every industry, and in most cases, they are unnecessary. Brokers are quick-witted and very persuasive. They make a big presentation and can sell you on the spot, promising the world, in vague terms. Why vague? Vague because they don’t want you to know the cost and risk associated with using them. The broker is a sly fox.

The market determines buyback rates across the industry. As a middleman, the broker is taking some off the top, which means you are losing money. Lost money isn’t your only concern either. Deception and steep EPA penalties should also be of utmost concern.

The Risks

In addition to losing out on top dollar, some brokers can be both liars and thieves. Have you heard the story about the contractor who sent their valuable gas to a broker and never got a check? We have. Numerous times. What is worse than that? Never getting their gas back and never getting EPA documentation. Lastly, their complaints being lost to the wind as the EPA comes after them for their missing refrigerant.

We hate hearing this story from our customers. We also wish we could help, but once it is gone, we rarely hear of it coming back. Don’t let it be you! The times have changed and there is no need for the broker. We buy directly from the market while offering a high level of integrity and customer service.

How to Protect Yourself?

At the very least, you can make sure the vendor you select meets EPA requirements for refrigerant recovery.  Beyond this, check references. Just because a vendor meets EPA requirements doesn’t mean they are qualified. Ask specific questions about their experience.

If their plant is a PO Box, RUN! Where is their plant? Can they show you pictures? If you’re ever in the area, can you stop by for a visit? We understand our program might not be right for everyone, but we want to help regardless. Give us a call and we will give our honest opinion, regardless of if you choose us.

Can they prove they have a plant that processes gas? You would be surprised at how many of these scam artists work out of their mom’s basement and never touch the gas.

Why? Because they can’t! Mom doesn’t want ½-ton cylinders in her closet! She doesn’t even want 25-lb cylinders. Top reclaimers in the industry can prove they have a plant. If they can’t process gas, they are a middleman, which means you are losing money.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Compliance

When it comes to refrigerant recovery, EPA compliance should always be your first and last concern. It is one thing to lose money because you’re paying an unnecessary premium for a broker or even so-called “disposal fees,” but it is another thing entirely to have the EPA coming after you for Clean Air Act Violations. CAA violations can put even large contractors out of business with fines in the hundreds of thousands. You control whether you vent and if your equipment is certified, but when you use a broker, you can’t control their certifications or if you get EPA documentation. More details about EPA compliance can be found in Section 608 of the Clean Air Act (CAA), but here’s a brief overview:

  1. It is illegal to intentionally vent ODS refrigerants
  2. Refrigerant recovery equipment must be certified by the Air Conditioning, Heating, or Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) or Underwriters Laboratories
  3. Technicians must be EPA-608 certified
  4. Refrigerants must be disposed of properly the activity must be documented to verify EPA compliance

Selling Your Refrigerant

Years ago, industry professionals paid fees to dispose of refrigerants; this is no longer the case.  As refrigerant production and importation is increasingly capped by the EPA, refrigerant reclaimers are looking to secure product, reclaim it, and return it to the marketplace. Demand is predicted to outpace the supply of certain refrigerants so now is the time to take advantage of market conditions.

  1. How much is your refrigerant worth? Two factors determine the value of your refrigerant – weight and purity. It is not possible to know the purity of your refrigerant prior to recovery, but most refrigerant purchasers will have a pricing schedule that will give you an idea of how much money you can make. Also, be sure to ask for a purity and weight report, also called a receiving report, to make sure you receive fair compensation.
  1. Are you paying fees? Based on the assumed value of your refrigerant, you should not expect to pay recovery or disposal fees. Some vendors will recover at no charge; others may charge nominal fees. Be sure to ask about fees ahead of time and subtract those costs from your refrigerant’s estimated value.
  2. Where is your refrigerant going? Ultimately, your refrigerant goes to an EPA-certified refrigerant reclaimer, but not all purchasers are reclaimers. Selling direct may result in higher payouts.

Finally, remember that many of your refrigerants are valuable.  Do not miss this opportunity to maximize your profit from the market value of refrigerant.

Questions? Contact us for more information or to request a refrigerant quote.

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