WRITTEN ON 12/23/07 at 9:21am.
I have always been one to recommend American Home Shield ("AHS") until now. As a Realtor, I have recommended it countless times to buyers and sellers. As a Paralegal, I have told many of my coworkers the importance of home warranty coverage. I have carried the coverage for many years and although I have had a couple of minor complaints, I never had a major issue with AHS....until now.
On 12/3/07 my home heater quit working. I submitted an online service request that morning and on 12/5/07 received a phone call from an AHS repair technician. He visited my home on 12/7/07 and I was told I had a broken blower wheel. Approximately a week after that he stated he installed the blower wheel but then the compressor shorted out. He now had to order the compressor. He told me it could take several days and there was going to be costs that AHS didn't cover that I needed to pay. He said these were "RECLAMATION COSTS" for disposing of the old compressor. I told him that $400 was ridiculous and I would have it disposed of myself. He said he had liability due to the freon involved and it must be disposed of properly so he wouldn't allow me to do it myself. This is true, in the fact that it should be disposed of per EPA guidelines. I contacted 2 other repairman who both told me the customary charge for this is $50. I called the AHS technician and told him that when he installed it, I would have someone licensed to dispose of the compressor meet him, but the AHS technician refused to allow it. I called AHS and told them that I was being taken advantage of but they said until he called in for authorization they couldn't help me. At that time I had already been waiting a week for the compressor to come in so I couldn't understand why they dont' require authorization prior to the repairman ordering the part. I asked them to call him immediately as once the part came in, when he called for authorization, if it included the $400 he told me about then we would have wasted more time for no reason. Keep in mind, I have no heat in my house so it's about 50 degrees in here now. I did spend $50 on a portable heater to keep by my bed. The entire thing is simply crazy.
On December 20th, I retained an attorney who wrote AHS legal counsel regarding my problem. We have not yet heard back from him. At 7:30pm on 12/21/07, an AHS representative called me to tell me the repair technician called in the authorization and that I would have to pay a $400 reclamation fee if I was going to have the compressor installed. I was beyond "pissed" and told her I told AHS 10 days ago I wasn't paying this fee and I was being taken advantage of. I said my house is like a frezzer, its a few days before Xmas and I've been without heat for 3 weeks and now I'm being told I must pay $400, plus my $55 service call fee for something that should really only be the $55 service call fee. I offered to pay my service fee plus $55 for the reclamation fee. I said to her if someone told you the going rate of gas was $15 per gallon when yhou knew it was $3.00 per gallon, would you pay it? She agreed, but she said I had no choice other then to cash out and that would take another person calling me and she couldn't tell me when that would be. No one from AHS has called and today is 12/23/07. However, yesterday, 12/22/07 the repairman called and asked what I wanted to do. I told him I spoke with AHS and that I refused to pay the $400 and it was criminal what they were doing. He said that was his fee, that he didn't make any money off AHS so he had to charge me to make it work for him. I told him I would not pay the $400 when I should only be paying the $55 service call. I offered him $50 for the reclamation fee but he refused. I offered to have my other repairman meet him to properly dispose of the compressor and told him I would sign an Indemnification agreement so that he would have no liability, and he refused this as well. (Note, the contract states that there can be disposal fees not covered by AHS in the fine print but they fail to disclose this when you sign up initially.)
Okay, so come Monday morning I intend to follow my legal counsel's advice and we will be filing complaints with every consumer protection agency we can think of. We'll be starting with the Attorney General's Office.
How many of you are out there who have been in a situation with AHS where you felt if you didn't comply with their demands and come out of pocket beyond your service call fee, that your health may be in jeopardy? Who has felt they have been unjustifiably taken advantage of by AHS and that AHS has breached the implied and written terms of their contract?
I am seriously considering pursuing a class action suit against this company. If you feel you have been harmed by American Home Shield, I want to hear from you. Please email me your story and contact information at hollydjohnson@***.com.
Product or Service Mentioned: American Home Shield Warranty.
Location: San Jose, California