I read reviews like these on the internet 2-3 years ago when I signed up for American Home Shield coverage. I called the company and a sales guy said he was aware of them, but that they represented a small percentage of customers and the company was working to improve. I thought he gave an honest and sincere response, so I entered into a contract. For years all I ever needed was an occasional visit to fix the refrigerator or plumbing, so it only cost me the $60 service fee. Of course, I was pumping $45 into AHS monthly--mainly in the hope that they would pay for our heat & air system if it ever broke down. It's an old gas furnace that might be original with our 40-year old house we bought in 2000. I looked at my $45 as an investment towards the inevitable replacement.
But just this week our 9 year old Amana washer broke. It had been on it's way out for some time. Finally the axle gave way and the tub tilted off center, stopping mid-cycle. What happened next is a story of deceit and incompetence. First I submitted an online service request to AHS. They wrote that the Greenway Home Service in Nashville would be in touch. When no one called, I phoned them only to find out they had just ONE technician and he was booked into the following week. That was unacceptable, so I called AHS and they said they'd find an alternate repair company, which turned out to be Sears. Sears was supposed to come out on a certain morning, and when it appeared they wouldn't show up before I had to leave for work, I called the number AHS gave me and was told the tech would call me back to reschedule. But instead of calling me to reschedule, he left voice-mail on my cell phone and went ahead with the service call while I was not at home! He reported to AHS that I had overloaded the washer and broken it, so of course AHS denied the claim as being beyond normal wear-and-tear. When I told them the washer was 9 years old and had been showing signs of breaking for some time, they offered to send someone out for a 2nd opinion. In the meantime, some company called A & E Parts called saying Sears had ordered a "massive amount" of parts for my washer and asked if I wanted them. I said no, since there had been no contact with the repairman (not even paperwork was left) and I hadn't a clue what he ordered. Days later a couple of guys showed up for the 2nd opinion from a company called DirectTech in Donelson. They couldn't have been much over 20. They were sort of glassy eyed and one of them never even opened his mouth. I told them about the visit from Sears and that I wasn't home to inform the tech that the washer didn't just suddenly break from abuse but had been showing signs of wear-and-tear for some time due to normal use and age.
Shortly I heard from "John" at AHS and he said the 2nd team corroborated the Sears report, adding that the unit was rusted from exposure to the elements. When I said it was in an enclosed utility room next to the furnace with a dehumidifier running constantly, it made no difference to him. He said he always tried to err on the side of the customer, but that he was obligated to go by the technicians' reports. He added some nonsense about the appliance needing to be in proper working order, and I said emphatically it had worked for nine years! (Besides, if it was in working order, why would I call for repairs?) I told him I strongly disagreed with their assumptions and asked how to appeal. He gave me a number to Customer Relations/Disputes and a very curt man who gave no name told me bluntly there was no recourse. So I decided to call the customer service number listed on the AHS website and talked with a woman who seemed to be very empathetic. She agreed that the team from DirectTech couldn't have known for certain if I was running too heavy loads and that the location in an attached, enclosed laundry room should not have affected the decision to deny my claim. I expressed my concern that the same type of arbitrary decision could be made about the furnace if and when it broke. She said she'd look into and put me on hold (for 10 minutes!) and came back saying her supervisor said the claim denial had nothing to do with location, but was solely based on the abnormal wear-and-tear to the unit which my warranty did not cover. She also had nothing concrete to say about my furnace question. I told her I was very disappointed because I thought she was going to be more of an advocate. It was obvious she'd been put in her place by her boss and couldn't help if she wanted to. So I said I wanted to terminate my contract. She connected me to yet another department and a disinterested party closed out my account without even asking why.
So the hundreds of dollars I paid to AHS were wasted and now I have to buy a new washer myself. I wish I had taken these other peoples' stories more seriously back when my mortgage company (Regions Bank) first sent me a flier advertising AHS. This company and the vendors it contracts with seem to be in a conspiracy of fraud and deception. I will never do business with a company owned by ServiceMaster again. In fact, I called Terminix to cancel my policy simply because they, too, are owned by ServiceMaster. I may even confer with my attorney as I imagine a lawsuit would not be hard to win. My advice is to pay close attention to boards like this one where consumers have taken time to post how they've been misled and robbed by unscrupulous companies like American Home Shield. I wish I had done so years ago.
Posted anonymously for liability sake. I don't see any evidence that AHS has ever sued anyone for libel. On the contrary, most suits reported online appear to have been settled out of court in favor of the plaintiff. However, I don't wish to be the exception! If you want to confirm the veracity of this story, I suggest you search the web for American Home Shield complaints.
I am not alone!
After filing a complaint in late August, I didn't hear back from the BBB of Memphis, so wrote in late October:
"About 2 months ago I filed an online complaint concerning American Home Shield. I received a follow-up phone call from one of your representatives shortly thereafter and since then...nothing. How can I find out the disposition of my complaint? I am very concerned that AHS, which has thousands of grievances registered against it on the internet, may have the BBB fooled into giving it an A+ rating undeservedly."
And here's what the BBB sent me as follow-up:
We forwarded you the business response by email at Mr.X@hotmail.com [NOT received!] and did not hear back from you. The website address below will take you directly to this complaint online, where you may access the details of the case and if you choose, enter a response:
The BBB Complaint File reads as follows:
08/27/2009 web BBB Information/Complaint Received by BBB
08/28/2009 Otto EMAIL Informed accredited business of complaint
09/10/2009 WEB BBB RECEIVED BUSINESS RESPONSE : September 10, 2009
Ms. Teri Green
BBB of the MidSouth
P.O. Box 17036
Memphis, TN 38187
Dear Ms. Green:
American Home Shield (''AHS'') is in receipt of your letter advising of the above referenced complaint.
Your letter has been forwarded to me for review and response. AHS dispatched two different companies to diagnose
any problems with Mr. X's washer. Both companies reported to AHS that the washer had failed due to overloading
and not normal wear and tear. Section A-1-B provides that AHS will only repair or replace covered items that have
become inoperative due to normal wear and tear. Section A-3 provides that coverage is subject to limitations and
conditions specified in the contract. Therefore, based on the terms of the contract, AHS rightfully denied Mr. X's
claim. Unfortunately, AHS's position does remain unchanged. Mr. X cancelled his AHS contract which became effective
on March 13, 2009, and he has requested to be reimbursed for his contract fees. Section K-B provides that if AHS
cancels or agrees to allow the contract holder to cancel after the 30th day from the effective date, then the provider
of funds shall be entitled to a pro rata refund of the paid contract fees for the unexpired term, less an administrative
fee of up to $35, less any service (and claims) costs incurred by AHS. Therefore, based on the terms of the contract,
Mr. X is not entitled to a refund of his contract fees. Mr. X will receive correspondence directly from AHS's Cancellation
Department regarding this matter. AHS does apologize for Mr. X's frustration regarding this matter.
Thank you for your consideration.
AMERICAN HOME SHIELD CORPORATION
Customer and Regulatory Claim Resolution Department
09/11/2009 TCG EMAIL Forwarded business response to consumer
09/29/2009 OttO BBB Case closed - assumed resolved
Teri Green | Dispute Resolution Specialist
So on 10/6/09, I amended my complaint with this:
Thanks for your response. I did not receive anything at the other email address. I accessed the site through the link you sent and added this comment:
"AHS has covered its tracks with legal loopholes that allow it to deny service arbitrarily. The response to my complaint is merely a restatement of contract jargon, completely ignoring all the points of my complaint. The incompetence of the servicemen sent to my house is of no concern to them, nor is the word of their own customer of many years. This is an unethical company and I want my grievance against them to be labeled unresolved in the BBB files. AHS has hundreds of consumer complaints against it online, yet the BBB has granted them an A+ rating. This is clearly a disservice to the public."
It would be a shame if the BBB allowed AHS to manipulate it, but that seems to be the case. All you have to do is perform a Google search of "AHS complaints" and you'll be overwhelmed with the number of unhappy AHS customers all over this country.
Sadly I never heard back. So much for the BBB of Memphis!