When her air conditioning wasn’t working, a North Texas homeowner said she turned to her home warranty company for help. Then, waited weeks for a resolution.
'IT WAS NOT COOLING AT ALL INSIDE THE HOUSE'
Mary Rivera shared a photo she snapped of the thermostat inside her Fort Worth home, showing an 84-degree temperature reading.
“It was not cooling at all inside the house,” Rivera said.
She contacted her home warranty company, American Home Shield, which sent out an HVAC company.
“The guy wanted $1,600 and I told him you guys need to talk to American Home Shield first,” Rivera recalled.
Rivera said she was following her contract which said it won’t reimburse for services without prior approval.
“I call every day, of course, because I was dying in here. It was too hot for me and every single day, the person will say, 'Ms. Rivera, somebody will call you within 48 hours,'” Rivera told NBC 5 Responds.
After more than two weeks without working air conditioning, Rivera said she paid out-of-pocket to hire another HVAC company. She said it found a part, which was still under the manufacturer’s warranty, and made the repair.
Rivera emailed NBC 5 and Telemundo 39 and our team contacted American Home Shield.
The company offered to reimburse Rivera $1,456.50 dollars for the repair plus the $100 service fee Rivera paid when the first HVAC company came out.
In an email to NBC 5 Responds, American Home Shield wrote, in part, “We have thoroughly reviewed our actions and interactions related to Ms. Rivera’s service request, and it’s clear that breakdowns in our processes and the lack of timely communication led to unnecessary frustration and a disappointing experience. The situation was further complicated due to the malfunctioning item being covered by a manufacturer’s warranty, as this delayed access to the part and immediate visibility to the costs associated with the HVAC issue.”
American Home Shield also wrote, “We sincerely apologize to Ms. Rivera and her family. Our team takes this matter very seriously and has taken immediate action to address these service gaps with each party involved.”
UNDERSTANDING RESIDENTIAL SERVICE CONTRACTS
Some of you have residential service contracts also known as home warranties, paying a monthly or yearly fee to help cover the cost of repairing big-ticket items in your home when they break down.
The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation says consumers should read contracts carefully to understand what the repair process would look like.
“Who will decide which company is going to do the repairs? Will they let you pick the company that you want or do they have specific companies that they want you to use?” said Tela Mange, TDLR spokeswoman.
Also, understand what specific items the residential service contract covers.
Are there limits to the coverage?
Would a pre-existing condition void coverage?
If something can’t be repaired, will the company replace it and who picks the replacement? For example, would a replacement match your other appliances?
How quickly would repairs be made?
For consumers who have questions they can’t resolve on their own, the TDLR has an ombudsman program. Consumers can call the RSC Ombudsman at 512-936-3049.
Back in Fort Worth, Rivera said she has working air conditioning now.
“If I didn't call you guys, nothing will be resolved,” said Rivera.
Rivera said she plans to use the money she would have spent on a home warranty to start her own rainy-day fund to cover future home repairs.
“If you if you add up all the money I spent in three years, I would have saved enough,” Rivera said.
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