Columbus, Georgia
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After reading a contractor's assessment of American Home Shield (AHS) business practices and reimbursement models, my recent negative experiences with this company now make sense. Basically, although I cannot prove this, it appears that AHS and their contractors are committing widespread fraud on a consistent basis, with the home warranty client being the primary victim.

Over the past 2 months I have had two occasions to request warranty coverage from AHS. The first was on an AC unit that was not producing cool air. After requesting a service call, my first issue was that it took over 2 days to obtain an appointment. It turns out that the HVAC company was based north of Atlanta (over 2 hours away) and they only made trips to Columbus, GA when they had enough appointments to justify a trip. My second issue arose when I was advised of the estimate by AHS. Not only did the contractor report that the condenser coils needed to be replaced, but that in addition to this there were approx $500 in "non-covered" work that needed to be done to bring everything "up to code". The need for this additional work to bring things up to code was surprising to me seeing that the home was not even 10 years old, and HVAC contractors that I questioned were not aware of any substantial code changes over this timeframe. Secondly, I have had numerous HVAC maintenance service calls in the past few years, and none ever mentioned or identified any of this work needing to be done. When I requested that only the covered work be done, I was told by AHS that the contractor cannot do the warranty covered work without also doing the necessary non-covered upgrades. Suspecting a fraudulent estimate on the part of the contractor, I asked AHS for a second opinion, only to be told that I cannot obtain a second opinion on non-covered items. Ultimately, I refused on principle to pay for these non-covered repairs and therefore was unable to get the warranty covered work done either. I called a local HVAC company who came out promptly and informed me that NONE of the items that had been identified as needing repair or replacement by the AHS contractor was necessary, and they repaired the unit in short order for minimal cost with cleaning and refrigerant recharge. It has since worked fine.

The second incident I have had with AHS involved the hot water heater which had begun leaking. I submitted a service request on Tuesday, and still had not received a call from the contractor for over 2 days. Finally, on Thursday afternoon AHS called and assisted me in scheduling the appointment for Friday afternoon. I actually addressed my concerns about my prior HVAC experience with the agent, who stated that I would be able to obtain a second opinion if I disagreed with the estimate. Well, you can probably guess what happened next. Sure enough, I was told that the hot water heater needed replacement which was covered under my warranty, but that there was an additional $440 in "non-covered" repairs needed to bring my unit "up to code". See a disturbing trend here? I own a number of residential investment properties that are much older than this, and have had to replace a few hot water heaters in recent years. NEVER have I been told that additional work needed to be done to bring anything up to code. Again, when calling AHS to dispute this estimate, I was told that I could not get a second opinion as this was non-covered work. I requested cash in lieu of the repair, called my own local service company who came out and promptly replaced the unit for less than $800. I verified with them that no additional work was needed to "bring the unit up to code". I did receive $250 from AHS in lieu of the work being done by their contractor. Yes, I ended up paying about $100 more by doing this with another service provider, but I think this is how the AHS service companies calculate their additional non-covered work costs. It's always a just low enough additional charge to make it less costly to go through the AHS provider than going to another company! To help visualize, here is a hypothetical summary:

Scenario A

Cost of repair under AHS warranty: $0

Service call fee $60

Cost of additional "non-covered" items: $450

$510 total repair cost

Scenario B

Cost of repair using a non-AHS service provider: $800

Amount of cash in lieu of warranty repair: $250

$550 total cost

The way they calculate it, as long as the consumer sees they will still be paying less with the AHS provider in scenario A, they'd be willing to pay. In addition, they figure you've been paying all these premiums to AHS so you would want to get your money's worth. Remember, the "non-covered items" are really not repairs that are needed, but you are unable to dispute this as AHS will not support second opinions for non-covered items. Nice scam isn't it?

In summary, AHS uses a very select group of contractors that are usually not local to their coverage areas (except for small appliances), resulting in long wait times for estimates and repairs. The question arises: Why would this be the case when there are numerous licensed/insured businesses in my metropolitan area (the 3rd largest city in the state with a population of near 200,000) that could provide adequate, affordable, high volume service? I think the answer becomes clear when you think about their reimbursement model. It seems that AHS grossly under compensates their contractors, requiring them to use the aforementioned fraudulent business practices to make profit. AHS benefits by not having to pay the contractors a fair price for performing their warranty-covered repairs. The contractor makes their profit then by charging the client for additional non-covered items that didn't really need to be repaired. The only one who doesn't benefit is the warranty consumer, who not only pays their premiums to AHS, but also pays a $60 fee for the initial service calls, then pays the extra money for the "non-covered" items. The key is, when you add in the $35 premiums per month, the scenario B above actually looks way better financially. So, in conclusion: don't ever buy an American Home Shield warranty!

Product or Service Mentioned: American Home Shield Estimate.

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Anonymous
#1757822

This is exactly what happened to me. Total scam.

Anonymous
#1599397

This is a very good analysis of how AHS operates. It amounts to a repair discount service, not an insurance plan.

The contractors are held to an extremely low flat rate maximum average ticket cost. They can’t get any money out of AHS, but they are required to service all the claims that are sent their way. The contractors have to service HUGE territories for AHS. AHS contractors fluctuate between feast and famine with regards to the number of calls they receive from AHS.

The money never changes: $100-200 per new ticket, regardless of the work, the parts, the distance, the number of required trips, etc. The contractors are either slammed and spread too thin or get cut off by AHS and can’t operate. It’s like a diabetic trying to control their blood sugar without insulin. There is no happy medium—it’s always helter skelter, and the contractor gets jerked around by AHS more than the customers do.

Screaming mad customers are the norm. Every day is a nightmare. Fridays are the worst. Everyone wants to be a jerk on Friday, and complain about the service and the suffering they’ve endured.

Once they’ve opened the crypt and start working for AHS, the reputation of the contractor equates with AHS’s, and any hopes of growing a business and escaping the curse are ended. Enslaved and miserable, survival is dependent on collected money from anyone but AHS. The customers have to pay up for their own covered repairs to make up for what AHS isn’t paying. It seems like gouging the customer but really the contractors are the ones insuring the customers, not AHS.

Anywhere that there is a loophole, the contractor will exploit it. As AHS closes loopholes, the contractors will cut more corners or pass along the costs in a different form.

It’s an ever-changing environment, but one thing remains constant: everyone is dissatisfied except for AHS. There is no way to make it stop, except for people to stop buying their bs

Anonymous
#1597298

AHS is the worst warranty covered i had a negative experience with cash lieu on my heater please dont get AHS is a JOKE!!!!!!

Anonymous
#1172717

This sounds exactly like what I am going through on my HVAC unit, but my "uncoverd cost to bring to code" is $1270 dollars. Ironically I had a second reputable sub look at this, and amazing enough no code issues. Funny part is AHS sub was not even pulling a permit......

Anonymous
#1027452

Exact same thing happened to me twice.

American home shield cheater!

Anonymous
#391848

Thanks for sharing your experience. I have a tenant in a new unit that experienced a failed stove.

I called AHS and reported the incident on Wednesday evening. The following afternoon, I called to see when I would receive a service call. I was told it would likely be next week. Then I read your comments, and properly armed, I called to see if I could replace the broken stove myself.

I was informed that I had to wait for the service visit first, and then - if the service tech couldn't fix the stove, I could apply for reimbursement for buying a stove, as long as I had a receipt that showed that a licensed and bonded service tech had installed the stove (a minimum charge of $75. Then I remembered what I saw on your site, and realized that the service tech might find "uncovered" work that had to be performed along with plugging the stove in, and I decided to just buy the $300 stove and install it myself.

Done in 90 minutes, and no surprise charges. Thanks for your information!

Anonymous
#335331

I guess you didn't read the details of my complaint or you don't quite understand my points.

Of course I do not expect them to pay for everything.

I do however expect their service providers to be honest and not upcharge for service that is not necessary (something I verified by separate independent licensed providers on two occasions). On top of that, I also expect to be allowed to obtain a second opinion on questionable work, something I would think AHS would encourage rather than disallow in order to ensure their providers are not committing fraud.

You're welcome to keep paying for your AHS warranty if you like. I'm just warning people about my experiences, and if you read through the complaints, I'm far from the only one who's had them.

Anonymous
#322254

Maybe you need to look more into the state codes. Water heaters now are required to have Thermal Expansion tanks added on.

(A new UPC nationally) If it is gas, then a permit is required. AHS is not responsible for the government changing codes and should not be responsible to pay for them.

The water heater was covered as stated by their contract. Do you expect home warranty companies to pay for everything?

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