Bad Business

the wonders of geothermal heating

Continuing the earlier thread on the modern worth of a man’s word (… ballpark, remember?) I want to give an update on the latest goings on.

Michael Strassburg, the young and energetic CEO of Onsite Energy, signed a contract on the 24th of May this year promising the geothermal system would be up and running in two weeks and we would be “enjoying a cool life while the heat raged outside”. It was hot air.

After a month, with a wide ditch running the width of my backyard, I began hounding the guy to come and finish the job. We got promises of guys being put on the schedule for “next Tuesday”… and when they did not show, it was “next Friday”… Hey what’s wrong with tomorrow, I asked. “Sorry, the guys are all booked up until then.” “But what happened to the schedule date on Tuesday?” “Well, they ran over long on another job and couldn’t get to you. And they had other places scheduled for today. And tomorrow.”

Yes, that’s how the guy does business.

Anyway, we did enjoy nice cool summer days but they were just like previous summers with the window units pouring out cool air (and creating hefty electric bills) and they finally came back to finish the unit at the end of August. You know, when the weather had cooled enough so we did not need to run the system.

He called to say the reason he had not rushed back to finish ours was that we had window units and some other customers he had were not so lucky.

Wow! The guy is a real Good Samaritan after all, huh?

I guess I should have saved myself the trouble of carrying the heavy things out of the storage shed and hooking the three of them up so we could have had our system done sooner, huh? Yeah, like I actually believe anything the guy tells me! Not by a long shot! They still would not have gotten to it any sooner… of that I am certain.

And two weeks after they finally finished the system, we had to call them again to send someone out to fill in the ditch. Yes, it was still standing open in the backyard!

Two weeks further along the season, it was starting to get a little cool and we had the opportunity to turn the system on and experience the wonderful warmth we had been promised. Only it did not work. So, I had to call and get that added to the schedule as well.

Three weeks later, a guy arrived to fix the heating element. Along with him came two guys to throw the dirt back in and left. Two days later, we could see the dirt settling in the trench so that we still have a ditch – albeit much shallower – traveling across our backyard.

So, back on the phone. Now I could not seem to raise either Strassburg, Katie, his secretary, or anyone else connected with the enterprise.

Messages were left, day after day, but no response ever came.

And then the weather started getting even colder. And – you guessed it – the heater was still not working properly. It could only seem to get thirty degrees warmer than the outside temperature. And it wasn’t so bad – yet! – with the temperature hovering around thirty-five at night, but sixty-five in the house was still a few degrees cooler than my wife can live with. Well, me too, if you must know.

Finally, near the end of October, I actually got him to answer his phone. He was in a real good mood and on his way back from a thrilling geothermal conference in Chicago.

He was astonished to hear that the ditch problem remained, and that the heater wasn’t working right. He said he would contact Katie at the office and have her schedule something.

Next day, I called Katie to see when we were on the schedule but I had to leave a message.

And – surprise! surprise! – no response.

Again, daily calls to both of them to leave messages brought nothing. Emails to them got zilch. I even went to their website to fill out their contact form… nothing.

I even told them I would be more than happy to call someone else to fix the machine and fill in the ditch… and send the bill to them. But that drew no response either.

So this morning… saints be praised!! – I finally got Mister Strassburg on the phone… he was on his way to a geothermal conference in Iceland, and he was surprised that in the past few weeks the problem had not been handled yet. (Man, is this guy good or what?! I almost believed him… almost… well, not even ballpark.)

And this afternoon, I called up Katie to see when they were coming out and she said, “Let me check the schedule.”

Do you get as sinking a feeling as I did at that moment? There was no, “So sorry, they’ll be there in the morning and we apologize for the excessive delay…” You know, the type of thing really caring people would have said.

No, she said, “The earliest we can get there would be next Wednesday.” After all these weeks and you tell me next week!?! “Sorry,” she said, “that’s the soonest we can do anything.”

Well, that’s just peachy. But, do you know what? I really don’t have to wait a whole week on my end to do what I need to do. I can register a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and the State Corporation Commission as early as this afternoon. And also a note at several different websites for consumer complaints.

It may not help me in my current straits but it may be helpful to others to steer them clear of this “person” (or is that “con man”?) whose need to be chasing the dollar far outweighs his desire to deliver any decent sort of service.

Or to live up to any of his promises.

And that’s Bad Business!


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7 Responses to “Bad Business”

  1. Jeff Greene Says:

    I’ve had almost the exact same experience, what a piece of work that Mike Strassburg is. It’s been over 7 months and we still don’t have one working system out of the two we payed for him to install..

    • carltonwelsh Says:

      Yeah, Jeff, he is a piece of work. I had several follow-up posts on my continuing experience with him (see 11/29/12, 1/9/13, & 2/21/13). He started on our system in May 2012 and told us “two weeks, max” and it took seven and a half months and he had to send a sub-contracted competitor out to finish the system. It was an excruciating ordeal but I love the way the system turned out, despite the birth-pains.

      • Greene, Jeffrey Says:

        I’ve hired a lawyer someone needs to stop this guy. Have any others contacted you?

        Sent from my iPad

      • carltonwelsh Says:

        I have not been contacted by anyone else but the gentleman that fixed our system said there were plenty of complaints from the others he serviced. Best of luck with your case. This guy doesn’t have even the one leg to stand on.

      • Greene, Jeffrey Says:


        Sent from my iPad

    • Greene, Jeffrey Says:


      Sent from my iPad

  2. Jay Says:

    Jeff and Carlton, I have had similar experience with Mike Strasburg. Please contact me so I can get some info from you all. I plan on going after him legally.

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