CUMBERLAND — A Cumberland woman is sharing her story after she had a hard time getting her air conditioner fixed through her home warranty company.
Tamara Merritt reached out to WRTV Investigates for help, and WRTV got results for the homeowner.
Homeowners purchase a home warranty in the hopes of avoiding costly repairs, especially on appliances — but some consumers say getting a repair done quickly and correctly is not always easy.
WRTV Investigates met up with Tamara Merritt at her Cumberland home on a day that felt like it was 10,000 degrees outside.
Her air conditioning is working now, but Merritt said it took more than a year of aggravation to get her A/C fixed.
“It’s been very frustrating,” Merritt said.
Merritt has a policy with American Home Shield Home Warranty, which she says costs her more than $700 a year.
“I Googled several home warranty companies, and they stuck out to me,” Merritt said. “I started doing business with them to make sure that I had coverage on big-ticket items.”
Merritt filed a warranty claim last summer when her A/C stopped working.
A contractor came out to fix it.
"Shortly after he repaired that, my AC stopped working again," Merritt said. "I reached out to American Home Shield again and they kept redirecting me back to the contractor."
Merritt said she had to purchase two window units to keep her house cool.
American Home Shield sent another contractor out to her house, Merritt said.
“The contractor quoted me $2.200 to fix the evaporator coils inside the garage and he couldn't guarantee my AC would be functioning at that point,” Merritt said.
Merritt contacted WRTV Investigates for help.
“My mom suggested that I reach out,” Merritt said. “At first I was skeptical. No one reaches out to the news station for help. I'm so glad I did."
WRTV Investigates found, in general, home warranty companies generate a lot of complaints.
American Home Shield, based out of Memphis, has a two out of five rating with the Better Business Bureau.
They’ve received 25,540 complaints in the last three years, many with similar gripes about difficulty in getting things fixed.
The Indiana Attorney General’s office has received 82 complaints since 2009 about American Home Shield, most for “failure to honor warranty.”
Records show the state resolved most of the complaints because American Home Shield provided a refund or reached a resolution with the customer, records show.
WRTV Investigates contacted American Home Shield about Tamara Merritt’s struggles with getting her A/C fixed.
“After you reached out to the company, all of a sudden I received a call from their executive team,” Merritt said. “All of a sudden, they were willing to cover the full and complete costs of repairing my A/C with no out of pocket expenses for me."
A spokesperson for American Home Shield told WRTV via email that their team, along with their network of contractors, has serviced 19.8 million service requests over the past five years, and paid more than $3 billion to repair and replace covered items for our customers during this time.
“In Ms. Merritt’s case, we are disappointed in the service experience we provided,” the company’s statement read. “We have covered the cost to replace her HVAC coil, as well as additional costs associated with this work. In addition, we have reimbursed her for alternative cooling and her service fee.”
Tamara Merritt says even though her issue is resolved, she wants to help other people.
“I just want people to be aware when you sign up for these warranty companies, read the fine print,” Merritt said.
Merritt plans to stick with American Home Shield for the time being.
“Hopefully we won’t have to have this type of experience again,” Merritt said.
The Better Business Bureau recommends reading the fine print before you sign up, as many home warranties offer coverage for specific parts of your home only and for limited amounts of time.
TIPS FROM THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU:
File your claim as specified in the warranty, and keep copies of all correspondence with the company, as well as notes on any conversations.
Research the business doing the work. Whether you find the proper repair professional or the warranty company provides one, check them out on BBB.org before letting them work in your home. Some warranty companies automatically go with the cheapest provider, but that’s a good deal for them, not you.
Know your rights. If there is an issue over coverage or whether the work has been done improperly, many warranties provide for mediation and arbitration. Sometimes you have to pay a fee for these services; you could even end up going to court. Read your warranty carefully to understand how issues are resolved and what you may end up paying.
FULL STATEMENT FROM AMERICAN HOME SHIELD:
As the largest provider of home service plans in the country, we serve approximately 2 million customers nationwide. Our team, along with our network of contractors, has serviced 19.8 million service requests over the past five years, and we’ve paid more than $3 billion to repair and replace covered items for our customers during this time.
While the situations you shared are not indicative of the typical customer experience, we are actively working to more consistently provide a positive experience for all. We take great pride in providing quality service and valuable protection to our customers. If we fail to meet these expectations, we work to do the right thing and ensure the situation is properly resolved. Most importantly we evaluate key learnings so that we can address the cause and reduce the likelihood of a recurrence. In addition, we are investing in tools, technology and process improvements that will provide a more streamlined customer experience.
In Ms. Merritt’s case, we are disappointed in the service experience we provided. We have covered the cost to replace her HVAC coil, as well as additional costs associated with this work. In addition, we have reimbursed her for alternative cooling and her service fee.
We deeply value our relationship with Ms. Merritt and look forward to serving her in the future.