Reston, Virginia
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87 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
#1378081

I am going to put law suits against this company, I wonder if any attorneys out there willing to do a class action on AHS.

Anonymous
#1366735

Has anyone used the arbitration process. Against AHS?

Anonymous
#1349315

How is there not a class action for this?

Anonymous
#1335515

This is happening to me now...

Anonymous
#1331324

American Home Shield is a joke,

Don't waist your money with them.

Anonymous
#1328648

I sent American Homeshield an overpayment of 618.00 in Sept of 2016. I had been in hospital.

I have yet to collect my money back. First I was told that it was sent to wrong bank. Then next month it was sent to a Deborah Dallas. And cashed.

I am not that person. Nor do I know that person . I have been told 4 different times it was investigated. And my no ey was being sent back.

That was 3 months ago. .now when I call. They say no previous record of previous calls. This is the most unorganized mess of a business I have ever worked with .

And last claim I tried to file was a joke. Please think twice before using this company

Anonymous
#1303085

Has anyone out there ever had a "gotcha moment" on their contract when renewing? The renewal letter states that it is time to renew so there is no lapse in coverage.

It also states to simply review your current plan details on the back, but after we renewed, we noticed that the added options were not the same, even though we were payed the same amount per plan and only used the service twice in the first contract. Has anyone else had this issue?

Anonymous
#1439783
@Anonymous

Yes, same to us and we are struggling with this now, plus they change our policy number every year and do not allow you to view previous years on website. They strategically do not include your plan on email but simply a link that now goes now where!

Anonymous
#1528993
@Jessica

I print mine each year because of this!

Anonymous
#1302379

AHS is a dirty word here. We have a sewage ejector pump for the downstairs bathroom.

A friend going through a divorce is currently occupying the space until he gets on his feet. The pump stopped. The stench was unbearable, called AHS, their plumber could not get here for 6 days. Really?

Then, on the 6th day, no show. Called AHS, plumber was tied up on another job. Will be there tomorrow. When he did arrive, said the pump was not covered because there was foreign matter in the pump.

Really? A bathroom sewage ejector pump should have NO foreign matter?

Called my credit card company and had them stop any future payments to AHS. They keep calling, saying they will turn me into collections.

Anonymous
#1301468

What type lawyer do I need to hire? I just moved to Sarasota, FL.

Anonymous
#1343043
@Anonymous

Pretty sure you could hire a kid right out of law school to screw these *** what they do to people is blatantly obvious

Anonymous
#1300763

I beat HSA Home Warranty (a division of American Home Shield) at their own game partially thanks to this article. I had a broken water softener that they diagnosed as broken but then refused to fix it due to one excuse after another; consistently dodged my calls, told me a Supervisor was never available and this dragged on for over three months.

The claim should have been worth $1,500-2,000. After doing research and reading this article, I filed a lawsuit in small claims court for $3,500 (max amount) plus court fees. After going through the lengthy legal process of filling out paperwork and all that jazz, HSA not only failed to dispute my claim; they also did not respond to the Default notice I sent them. This means that I was going to win, but the question is "how much." While I was waiting for the judge to make a decision on my case, all the sudden I have a fedex envelope at my front door with only a single check inside.

That check was for $3,558.12.

The irony here is I would have settled for half that but the *** at HSA couldn't get their act in gear and eventually realized they were on the hook and had no choice but to pay me. I am THRILLED at this outcome and recommend that anybody else having problems with their home warranty company to follow the same path to resolution.

Anonymous
#1421772
@Jordon

Did you have to file it in TN?

Anonymous
#1496068
@Jordon

So I have a majir problem then with them RE ac. Who did you file the claim.

Smart what you did. I have not been so smart. But finally angry at being taken advantage of. So what do you recommend I do.

They hired bad illegitimate people off the street to do the work. The wiring was all wrong and dangerous... the permit was never closed. The next people were equally as bad .

They would not allow them to do the job right. My house could have burnt.wires all over attic. Insulation a mess. Dirt garbage everywhere!

They ahs have failed at everything. Including having me pay the people who dud the initial work.... 1800 dollars! Disgusting and fraudulent!

Will not let this go til they are gotten.... after four years of lies.Any good ideas on how to get them good!Thanh’sA

Anonymous
#1609245
@Jordon

Jordan, May I ask what was the business name and address that you sent your demand letter to? I am working on filing against AHS in small claims here in CA and cannot seem to find legit information for the business name and address. Any help is greatly appreciated.

Anonymous
#1222969

Thank you for this excellent information. In my case, I was unfortunate enough to buy service in early August, and in late August my fridge started to freeze food in the fridge side.

Late August, AHS sent a tech who only looked at the fridge, didn't touch anything and left in under 2 minutes, saying he would contact AHS to send another technician. He didn't have us sign anything to indicate he was there. It was all VERY unusual. We heard nothing for days, so we called AHS.

They couldn't contact the tech for weeks. Meanwhile we're trowing away piles of frozen vegetables, the milk is frozen, etc. Finally in early October, AHS calls saying our fridge is not covered. They said that the tech told them that someone had tampered with the fan and damaged the blades, so the fridge was not cooling.

This was in fact the opposite of what the fridge was doing, and the blades and fridge hadn't been touched. In addition, AHS is charging us for this supposed tech that came to the house. It is all a SCAM just like WELLS FARGO! Now i just want to cancel my policy and just be rid of these thieves that have caused me so much pain for over a month in wasted time on hold.

But they will not cancel my policy and what their service fee too. The money is nothing to me, but the pain and deceit they are willing to exert on customers is a huge concern.

Anonymous
#1216921

So what do you do if they keep delaying an a/c repair (2.5 months so far) with various excuses if trying to find a contractor, needing to order a part, not knowing who was spoken to, etc. There is no exact monetary value yet, just a breach of contract?

Would I need to have someone come out, do the repair, pay for it myself, and then sue for that amount? Is there some way to just sue for breach of contract? How long can they just keep pushing the issue back until you could claim that?

I have had refrigerant leaking on the inside of my house for 2.5 months and I'm not a step closer to having the thing fixed. I have spent about 10 hrs on the phone over more than 2 dozen calls, took time off work twice to meet with contractors, yet they still won't just get the thing fixed.

Anonymous
#1340356
@Anonymous

Can you tell me if this was ever resolved? We are having the same problem.

We filed the claim on 05/31/2017. They could not get someone out to our house until the following Monday, 06/05/2017. He did the diagnosis and determined we needed an entire system due to a freon leak on a 20+ year old system. That vendor failed to turn in the diagnostic information to AHS for an entire 7 days.

I called them 3 days in a row from Wednesday through Friday and again on Monday the 12th and they in turn called, e-mailed, and texted the A/C company to ask him to please submit the information. He submitted partial information and then on the 12th finally submitted the remaining information. They approved the repair on the 13th, and the A/C company contacted us on the 14th to schedule the repair for Friday 06/16/2017. However, they called the next day to tell us they were still waiting for one part and it was a main component so they would be here on Saturday 6/17 instead.

I am not holding my breath. In the meantime it is 90+ degrees here in Florida and we are sweltering and having to stay with friends. We did stay in a hotel for 3 days, but we can't afford to stay any longer than that and we definitely don't have the funds to pay for the entire repair ourselves and then recoup the losses later. I saw something earlier in this post about suing in small claims court, but if the cap on that is 3500.

They are telling me I have $3275 in noncovered expenses I will be asked to pay and we also had $275 in hotel fees and another $50 in food costs - so all of that would be more than the $3500 small claims amount.

Not to mention I had doctor bills totally over $500 for office visit and medications due to a URI I got which was mostly due to the humidity affecting my asthma.

Can you tell me if your system ever got fixed and, if so, did you go back and sue them after the fact and win?

Anonymous
#1371473
@Anonymous

Anonymous ,

Similar encounter for us . We have problem with our A/c for the past 6 weeks .

Almost similar scenario like yours , A/c still not fixed ,very very poor customer service who after

waiting for 11/2 hours would say different each day . a/c still not fixed in 90 degrees in Florida and with small children in the house .

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