|A heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) company that claims to service the Denver, CO area refuses to work in homes located in Montbello — one of the city’s largest and most racially diverse neighborhoods — which the company’s workers have named “Mount Ghetto.”
According to an April 30 RawStory.com article, a concerned employee at Mile High Heating and Cooling in Westminster, CO, recently alerted FOX31 Denver’s “Problem Solvers” to the HVAC company’s openly racist practices.
The news channel’s hidden-camera investigation team sent a producer to apply for one of the company’s advertised “appointment setter” positions to see if the employee’s claim was valid.
A manager at Mile High Heating and Cooling hired the news producer to book appointments almost immediately, and was training the reporter on how to cold call around the Denver area to book new customers within the hour.
The manager, who FOX31 Denver referred to only as “Andrea,” gave the reporter a paper schedule of ZIP codes in which to concentrate calls within the coming days. The producer, noticing the words “do not call” written beneath Montbello’s 80239 ZIP code, asked Andrea why this was.
“We call it Mount Ghetto,” Andrea explained, saying that Montbello is a “colored neighborhood.”
The Problem Solvers found definitive proof that Mile High Heating and Cooling doesn’t seek out new customers living in Montbello. But what if a Montbello resident calls the company and requests their services?
FOX31 Denver asked Montebello resident Pam Jiner to call Mile High and ask for help with her furnace. During the phone call, an employee asked Jiner for her ZIP code, then informed her they’d call back in a few minutes with more details. The company never called her back.
One of the news station’s Problem Solvers then called Mile High, requesting the same service and using the same name, but providing a different ZIP code. That appointment was booked almost immediately, RawStory.com reported.
For Montbello, one of Denver’s poorer neighborhoods, this kind of discrimination only makes things worse. Improper installations of heating and air conditioning systems can boost one’s energy costs by as much as 30%, further pushing people into a never-ending cycle of poverty.
“Those stereotypes are born of ignorance,” Duane Topping, a neighbor of Jiner’s, said of the company’s ZIP code servicing disparity. “I’ve grown up with all of these people in this neighborhood, so this is a family. We don’t care how much money you make, we don’t care what color you are, we don’t care what religion you are.”
“Saddened and stunned,” reporters then paid a visit Mile High’s offices. Upon seeing the journalists, Andrea, the manager, ran to her office and refused to come out. She emerged an hour later, but would not answer any questions asked of her.
The reporters later approached Kasey Dykman, who co-owns the Westminster HVAC company with his father, Kevin Dykman.
“Is this company racist?” the reporters asked Dykman, who was wearing a Darth Vader T-shirt that said “Free Throat Hugs” at the time. He didn’t respond.
“Do you have something against people of color? Do you have anything to say for yourself?” the Problem Solvers asked. Again, no response.
FOX31 Denver is now urging Montbello residents with first-hand experience with Mile High to file a complaint against the company with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.