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Old 04-14-2011, 03:59 PM
 
99 posts, read 165,933 times
Reputation: 88
Default Home Warranty - NOT

Just wanted to post my experience with a home warranty and suggest that others consider carefully before buying one.

We purchased a home warranty when we bought our new house. It was five years old and we had very little knowledge of how the systems would run. This house has quite a few more appliances than our old house and is in a much different climate. Seemed like a good idea.

Our first service call was for the instant hot water pump not working. We made the service request on the web site and waited for a return call that never came. 24 hours later we called in and were told they did have our request but had not had time to act on it yet ?!?. A plumbing company called on the third day, asked us some questions about the pump and came out that afternoon with the correct pump and installed it. But, the home warranty company was claiming that the pump is not covered because our pump is not a standard pump for this purpose but a much bigger hydronic heating pump. In the end we settled on about a split for the cost of the pump plus our $60 service fee. And the recirc system is no longer covered.

The pump was about $300 we paid $210. I could easily have changed the pump myself making me question why I pay $50 a month for this "service." But we have bigger, much more expensive appliances in the house so, when renewal came, we did.

Our furnace began acting up in March. "Short cycling." We again placed a service call on the web site and again made a phone call a day later. On the third day a HVAC technician showed up. He looked at the system and told me he didn't know much about zone control systems but would give it a shot. 90 minutes later he had disconnected the zone system from the furnace, commanded it to run by jumping a couple terminals and determined the furnace itself to be ok. He felt the problem was a certain sensor in the duct and indeed the LED on the control board for that sensor was flashing. He left, backing down my 300 foot snow coverd drive, all the way across the street and over my neighbors mailbox. Then he drove off never to be seen again.

20 minutes later we got a call from the home warranty people telling us that the call is not covered because they don't cover "damper or damper control systems." The troubleshooting bill to that point was $93. I would not have paid it, since the furnace had not been fixed but I wanted them to finish, so I paid and waited for them to return with the sensor. They never did. When I called they informed me that since they couldn't bill the insurance company and that the charges that I paid were mandated by the insurance company and below their regular rate, they didn't feel they could be profitable on this repair. That's about an even split for blame between the home warranty and the contractor. Plus my stupidity for paying the bill before the furnace was fixed.

I ordered the sensor over the internet. It didn't fix the problem. I'm technical so I hauled out the manual figured it out and fixed it myself. A simple open wire.

So to date we've paid: $900 in premiums, $303 in copayments on two service calls, $55 for an unneeded sensor and my time fixing my neighbors mailbox. What we received in return was two headaches, one $300 pump (installed,) ten days without adequate heat, an education on the workings of furnaces and zone systems and the pleasure of doing it myself afterall.

I think that American Home Shield introduced about a two day delay on each service call, a good deal of confusion and excess charges. They are difficult to contact and unresponsive when you do contact them. I cannot say that this "service" holds any value and I caution others not to pay for it.
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Old 04-14-2011, 04:09 PM
 
Location: Marion, IN
8,192 posts, read 18,936,825 times
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Wow! I have had AHS on 4 different houses over the years. I have never had a problem getting them to fix something. Of course, they are only going to be as good as the contractors in your area.
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Old 04-14-2011, 04:10 PM
 
2,879 posts, read 3,876,995 times
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Countless consumer complaints on these companies--just google scam and AHS and you will see a lot of complaints. I don't know who is copying whom, but the health insurance companies seem to operate the same way...take in premiums and deny claims.
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Old 04-14-2011, 04:15 PM
 
Location: Up on the moon laughing down on you
18,516 posts, read 15,282,381 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Racelady88 View Post
they are only going to be as good as the contractors in your area.
Yeah, my dad has an AC company and it all depends on the contractors hired out.

Home warranties depend on 3rd party contractors and these sub contractors sometimes pick up people off the street to work. You may find good ones but the bad ones are most often totally clueless. All depends on the 3rd party contractors in your area
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Old 04-14-2011, 04:32 PM
 
Location: Marion, IN
8,192 posts, read 18,936,825 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khuntrevor View Post
Countless consumer complaints on these companies--just google scam and AHS and you will see a lot of complaints.
I would be willing to bet most of them are from people who did not read the contract. It very clearly states what is covered and what is not.

Over the years in my various homes I have had a hot water heater replaced, a dishwasher replaced, new duct work installed, a new air handler installed, countless visits from a plumber, and a few simple repairs to major appliances. Never once did they tell me they would not fix or replace something. Only once did I have to pay above my service call fee, and I knew I would because the contract clearly stated that I was responsible for those specific costs.
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Old 04-15-2011, 08:54 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan and Sometimes Orange County CA
15,820 posts, read 29,792,474 times
Reputation: 11701
Consumer publications generally say to stay away from home warranties. They are a bad deal.


I am intersted in the instant hot water heater pump. I have never head of such a thing. We have tankless hot water heater and it just uses the regular water pressure to operate. Why would you need a pump? Does your system draw off the boiler that heats your home? I am still not sure how you woudl need a pump since you would have to have incoming tap water and that woudl be pressurized. Are you sure that the pump was nto just a scam? Did you ever see a pump?
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Old 04-15-2011, 11:57 AM
 
Location: Holly Springs
3,494 posts, read 5,673,590 times
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Warranty companies do not make money by paying out claims. They also pay less to the contractors, so they good ones tend to avoid working for them leaving the consumer with "average at best" contractors. They also tend to band-aid problems if at all possible. If you systems are 15-20 years old, it may pay off if you have a major repair necessary (like a heat exchanger on a furnace for example). For odds and ends, or maintenance related repairs, you would be better off hiring your own service techs/contractors.
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Old 04-15-2011, 11:58 AM
 
Location: Holly Springs
3,494 posts, read 5,673,590 times
Reputation: 2272
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
Consumer publications generally say to stay away from home warranties. They are a bad deal.


I am intersted in the instant hot water heater pump. I have never head of such a thing. We have tankless hot water heater and it just uses the regular water pressure to operate. Why would you need a pump? Does your system draw off the boiler that heats your home? I am still not sure how you woudl need a pump since you would have to have incoming tap water and that woudl be pressurized. Are you sure that the pump was nto just a scam? Did you ever see a pump?
They probably mean a recirculating pump which delivers hot water substantially faster to fixtures that are furthest from the water heater.
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Old 04-15-2011, 12:51 PM
 
Location: Jacksonville, FL
3,823 posts, read 3,068,521 times
Reputation: 2422
You couldn't sell me a home warranty at half price. I haven't personally met one person who felt they got their money's worth out of them. A far better way to handle repairs is to keep an emergency fund set aside for the eventuality of things breaking. Unless everything breaks at once, a decent emergency fund will cover general repairs. And doing it that way means you get to choose what contractor or service person you use, and don't have to accept the sub-standard people that the HW company sends you.
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Old 04-15-2011, 02:27 PM
 
420 posts, read 310,195 times
Reputation: 378
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimRom View Post
You couldn't sell me a home warranty at half price. I haven't personally met one person who felt they got their money's worth out of them. A far better way to handle repairs is to keep an emergency fund set aside for the eventuality of things breaking. Unless everything breaks at once, a decent emergency fund will cover general repairs. And doing it that way means you get to choose what contractor or service person you use, and don't have to accept the sub-standard people that the HW company sends you.
I completely agree. We had a warranty with First American for two years. The first year was paid for by our seller and we renewed for the second. During that time, we placed four calls for minor issues with our HVAC unit. The first guy that came out fixed the problem, but was a bit unresponsive and unprofessional. The second guy was great and was honest that the home warranty companies tries to "patch" as much as possible. When we had a freon leak, we were able to call and request him. But by the time we made our fourth call, they had switch systems and we could only leave a message and they would dispatch someone on their own. We ended up canceling the call the next day. But boy, they certainly can find enough live people to be on the phone when you don't renew. We got several sales calls for a couple of months, including one from a guy who I thought crossed the line into rude and nasty.

We now have a guy who some friends recommended. He works for himself, so there's low overhead. And he's professional and responsive.
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