Unlicensed handyman leaves Durham homeowner without heat, AC

Diane Wilson Image
Thursday, June 8, 2017
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An unlicensed HVAC technician left a Durham homeowner without heat or air for months

DURHAM, North Carolina (WTVD) -- An unlicensed HVAC technician left a Durham homeowner without heat or air for months, despite accepting her payment.

Kim hired John McNerney back in February of 2016. At the time, her heat had stopped working. She had used John McNerney in the past and said she didn't have a problem with his work.

This time, though, was a different story.

Kim said McNerney told her the unit needed replacing, and he assured he could do that for her. She didn't have the money for a brand new unit, and she says he told her that wasn't a problem.

"He's got a four-year-old unit for $350," Kim recalled.

Kim wrote McNerney a check.

"He removed the unit and said he would be back that afternoon to put in the new unit," Kim explained.

McNerny reportedly never came back with the unit. Kim said she would call and text McNerney but he had one excuse after another.

"His mother-in-law has died, he doesn't have a truck, he told my husband at one point that his tools had been stolen."

Meanwhile, Kim was left with this hole on the side of her house where her HVAC unit once sat.

"We have a hole inside of our house right now," Kim said. "That's how he left us."

Kim searched for McNerney's name online and found my story from 2015.

Then, I had heard from four different homeowners who found McNerney on Craigslist - all said he took their money and didn't complete their jobs. McNerney also got the attention of the NC State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors. In 2016, the court issued a Judgement of Permanent Injunction against McNerney and his company DJ Mechanical.


I was able to get a hold of McNerney. Through email, he said he helps people who can't afford to buy new equipment and charges them a minimal amount. He says he has a receipt book with over 800 logged service calls to approximately 400 customers and he can guarantee that I have never heard from 395 of them.

"I know a 100 percent satisfaction rate is what anybody strives for but a 98 percent is not that bad," McNerney said.

He says he will refund Kim her money. He provided me with proof of a money order transfer, but when Kim tried to get the money she was told nothing is there. McNerney confirmed it did not go through, and he would correct it but that never happened.

Kim never did get her $350 back.

"We were lucky. It wasn't a whole lot of money; it was enough that it hurts. I would hate for this to happen to somebody who is on a very low or a fixed income who would not be able to take that hit," Kim shared.

Kim now has air conditioning and heat. She and her husband saved up their money and hired a licensed HVAC technician to do the job. A representative with the State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating, Fire Sprinkler Contractors says they are still actively taking complaints on McNerney. McNerney is only allowed to do minor repairs to an already installed unit.

To learn how to find out whether an HVAC technician is licensed or to file a complaint with the board click here.