Reston, Virginia
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83 comments

I have discovered how aggrieved homeowners can turn the tables on home warranty companies and beat them at their own game. Please share this with everyone you know.

I’m an attorney and after having a problem with my home warranty company, American Home Shield, I decided to investigate whether other homeowners had experienced the same or a similar problem. What I found were web sites devoted to consumer complaints on which numerous homeowners had recounted incidents of fraud, deception, and rip-offs by their home warranty company. I also found a blog written by a former American Home Shield employee and another written by a former plumber for a home warranty company. Both recounted situations that would not pass the “smell test” in a court of law.

I also investigated lawsuits that had been filed against American Home Shield in Georgia, which is where I live. I found about 15 cases. The majority of cases had been filed in small claims court. As I reviewed the cases, I discovered that none of the cases had been litigated. In every instance, the case had been settled to the Plaintiff’s satisfaction although the details of each settlement were not part of the case file. With the knowledge that all cases had been settled to the homeowners’ satisfaction, I realized that American Home Shield would settle with an aggrieved homeowner before allowing a case to go to trial. My conclusion is that the only thing aggrieved homeowners need to do to beat home warranty companies at their own game is to file suit. The last thing American Home Shield wants to do is litigate a homeowner’s claim and the reasons are obvious to me.

The most obvious reason American Home Shield would not want to litigate a claim is that in most instances, the cost to American Home Shield to settle a claim would be less than the cost to litigate. The average amount of a claim in the cases I found was $3,800.00. Two were for less than $1,000.00 and only one was for more than $10,000.00. I’m sure far more than the 15 homeowners who have filed lawsuits in Georgia have had their claims denied. American Home Shield wins when a claim is denied and the homeowner does not sue, which is exactly what American Home Shield is counting on homeowners not doing.

Another reason American Home Shield does not want to litigate is because the company does not want to have to defend its craftily drafted contract or its questionable business practices, which is exactly what it would have to do if a case went to trial. American Home Shield also does not want such information to become public knowledge, which is also likely to happen. Additionally, a judge or a jury would also be hard pressed to return a verdict favorable to a company that engages in questionable business practices.

The final reason American Home Shield does not want to litigate is because a lawsuit actually places American Home Shield in a precarious situation. American Home Shield would have a difficult time defending any claim by a homeowner because the company has no first hand knowledge about the claim; it would need the testimony of the service contractor who, for its own reasons, may be less than eager to testify. The only knowledge American Home Shield has is what the company has been told by the service contractor. And any testimony from American Home Shield about what it was told by the service contractor is hearsay and not admissible in court.

To defend a claim, American Home Shield would need to subpoena the service contractor who actually made the diagnosis to testify about the claim. If the homeowner has done his/her homework, he/she would subpoena witnesses who could dispute the witnesses for American Home Shield. The homeowner should subpoena one or more service companies who had been called either for a second opinion or to make the actual repairs to dispute the testimony of the American Home Shield service contractor. The homeowner might also consider locating one or more other aggrieved homeowners to testify about their problem with American Home Shield. Another good witnesses for the homeowner to subpoena would be a former service contractor for the home warranty company or a former employee of a service contractor.

Since American Home Shield has at least three significant reasons why it does not want to litigate, the best and easiest way an aggrieved homeowner can beat American Home Shield at their own game (and most likely any other home warranty company) is to file suit. The one thing for an aggrieved homeowner to keep in mind is that if he/she does not sue, the home warranty company will win. But if he/she sues, the homeowner will most likely win. And that is how an aggrieved homeowner can beat American Home Shield at their own game.

My advice to aggrieved homeowners is not to stress over a denied claim, the denial of a situation as an emergency, repeated “band-aid repairs,” or a delay in authorization or in the repair of an item. I would also advise a homeowner not to waste time arguing with American Home Shield but to set a reasonable deadline for the appropriate action. Upon expiration of the deadline without receiving satisfaction from American Home Shield, the homeowner should then proceed as if they did not have a home warranty and then sue American Home Shield for reimbursement. The homeowner should also remember to document every action or inaction by both himself/herself and American Home Shield. Although the disadvantage to the homeowner is initially having to pay for the repairs, the advantage is that the homeowner can choose the service contractor and the brands and quality of products. I won’t guarantee all aggrieved homeowners will prevail every time but I have good reason to believe most aggrieved homeowners will prevail the majority of time.

For aggrieved homeowners whose claims were denied at sometime in the past, you may still be able to sue for reimbursement. To make that determination, the homeowner needs to research the statute of limitation for suing on a contract in their state. In any event, a homeowner should be safe filing suit for a claim that was denied during the past twelve (12) months.

Within the next six months, instead of reading homeowner’s stories about being scammed and ripped off by their home warranty company, I want to read stories about how homeowners turned the tables and beat their home warranty company at their own game.

If anyone has any questions, I can be contacted at LegalCohen@aol.com.

Good luck.

Product or Service Mentioned: American Home Shield Warranty.

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Anonymous
#1687210

Freon RipOFF. Why can I buy home Freon 410 on the Internet for about $9-$10 a pound, (AHS covers $10 a pound for each pound), but the contractor charges about $70 per pound.

Dang - we all know that they are paying less than $10 per pound for it!!!!!! We homeowners are getting ripped-off and no-one either is doing nothing or can't do anything to STOP this.

Anonymous
#1687515
@Anonymous

Nobody sells freon for what they pay for it. It is called a BUSINESS!

If you can buy it online, why don’t you do it and install it yourself???? What you want is for AHS to cover all your costs, and they clearly don’t. The contractor does the work for free, and selling YOU freon is the only way they make money. If you don’t pay for the freon and AHS doesn’t pay for the labor OR the freon—how in the heck are they supposed to make money????

I know you don’t care, but if there were no AHS contractors willing to come out and look at your unit—then your claim would never get processed. Businesses can’t survive without money coming from someone—and that someone is YOU

Anonymous
#1690107
@Anonymous

After you get your HVAC license and open your own business, you can sell the refrigerant for whatever you want to. If you don’t want to make any money at all, just sign up to become a contractor with AHS, and then give the customers the refrigerant for free is you want.

Or let them buy their own online and install it for them, and be prepared to take responsibility for whatever goes wrong. But you don’t want to OVERCHARGE the customer, heaven forbid! By the way, AHS won’t let you work for them if you charge them any money at all, so you’ll be doing all the work pro bono. Even if you do everything PRO BONO, the customers will hate your guts because you work for AHS and you can’t get out there fast enough to suit them.

Just go ahead and buy all your customers a new HVAC system and install it for free. I doubt you’ll be able to afford to hire any help, so you will be out really late at night doing free service work, and you’ll need to buy lots and lots of refrigerant, because it will be FREE to your customers, so they will be using a LOT of it. Oh, and your liability insurance, commercial auto insurance, trade licenses, EPA license, city and county business licenses will need to be paid before you even GIVE your stuff away. AHS will cut you off the minute you are one day late on an insurance payment or license.

But you go ahead and give it a try. See if you can make a living OR make your AHS customers happy, by giving away your parts, labor and refrigerant.

Let me know how that works out, ok? Best of luck to you.

Anonymous
#1738513
@Anonymous

AHS does not send out licensed contractors to do the work on HVAC systems. I know this first hand by contacting the County and checking. These individuals must be fined and put in jail, and if your one too, then ditto!

Anonymous
#1739897
@Anonymous

There are numerous licenses involved: state trade license, city business license, EPA license, etc. the county doesn’t matter

PlayfulWelshCorgi689
#1672998

Mr. Cohen, what will take for you to initiate a nation wide class action law suit against AHS this year ( 2019 ) ?

Anonymous
#1713024
@PlayfulWelshCorgi689

MONEY

Anonymous
#1717210
@PlayfulWelshCorgi689

I am one of the pissed off customers with AHS And they charged me $75 without anyone showing up to check on our AC

Anonymous
#1750843
@PlayfulWelshCorgi689

I would be interested in a class action lawsuit for American home shield.

Anonymous
#1649154

I think this is great advice. I just used it on AHS.

I gave them five days to repair an oven that hasn’t worked since August or I will file a small claims suit against them and file a complaint with my state insurance commissioner. I also turned on the voice recorder on my iPad and informed the AHS rep that I was recording the call.

I requested and got his employee number. I recommend doing this anytime you have to make a call to AHS.

Anonymous
#1669676
@Lauri Hines

That is great!

Anonymous
#1738514
@Anonymous

5 days??? I've been down 60+ days. HVAC repairmen for AHS are the bottom feeding losers of the industry!

Anonymous
#1648620

AHS is so full of it. They will use the " it's not normal wear and tear" to deny your claim. What is the definition of normal wear and tear?

Anonymous
#1648952
@reponsa

Normal wear and tear usually means non-damaged. The contractors rely on a high percentage of claim denials in order to offset their losses on covered claims, because it is actually the CONTRACTOR who has to pay for the repairs, not AHS.

The contractors themselves are penalized if the claim isn’t denied. Therefore, the contractors go out on each call with the specific intention of finding a basis for denial, and they present the info to AHS in that manner.

A denial means that the contractor is not penalized (by having to absorb the repair cost themselves without reimbursement), is guaranteed higher AHS call volume, has the opportunity to sell the customer the repair for full price, and keeps the service fee for just making a report. This is coming from a contractor.

Anonymous
#1669677
@reponsa

They did the same thing to me.

Anonymous
#1610079

Yes I am pissed. My son and daughter in law and grandkids have been without hot water for two weeks.

This all at the hands of American Home Shields and their selected contractor.

Glad to read your experiences and had already thought about doing this. Thanks again!

Anonymous
#1611882
@Jeff Crain

Why do all these believe in a home warranty enough to put their children at risk of no hot water or heat? You can definitely beat their service anywhere else, as long as it is not another home warranty company or provider.

It is unbelievable that parents and a grandfather would let the children go 2 weeks without hot water and then blame a worthless home warranty company.

Buy a water heater. Get real.

Anonymous
#1556691

I appreciate the factors. I have American Home Shield and they denied my claim for my main water turnoff by saying the plumbing was outside of my home. The main plumbing is inside so are they right to refuse to replace the outside turnoff even though it does come through the inside wall to the outside?

Anonymous
#1554743

AHS refused 2 claims to repair and it has mounted to thousands of dollars for my home owners insurance. They always say its not covered under warranty. My policy does cover it, but I do not have their subsections they quote in the policy they gave me.

Anonymous
#1510921

It's not a "game" and you're not "beating" anyone by collecting your contractual due and proper. You're correct to specify the need for thorough documentation , not a bunch of useless telephone calls.

Most folk mistake "home warranty" for factory or manufacturer's warranty when a more correct comparison would be insurance company. They will only restore your situation to the way it was moments before the failure after approval from the twin departments of Delay and Deny.