For a number of years -- at least 10 -- I have encouraged my selling clients to throw in a free home warranty from one of the warranty companies like American Home Shield. It seemed to be both a good marketing strategy for the seller and as a help against the possibilities of disclosure disagreements and lawsuits after closing.
It didn't take long doing this that I sold myself that an American Home Shield warranty on our personal home might be just the thing to do, so I bought and the company started drafting my bank account every month for the premium...about $45, I think.
A long time went by before I needed service. I called because the back flow valve for our sprinkler system was frozen. I reported the problem to AHS, and they scheduled a "plumber" who came out and 1) told me that the valve wasn't covered, 2) that he was really not a plumber but a plumber's helper, and 3) that he had learned what he knew about plumbing as a prisoner at the Huntsville prison. He had only recently been released.
"Well, can you fix it while you're here?"
"No, $55 please."
I drove over to the nearby Lowes, bought the part and put it in myself. Total cost of the part $6.00. Total time required to put it in, less than thirty minutes.
The next time I called AHS, the a/c had stopped cooling. The appointment was set by AHS. The service technician never showed up. Calls to AHS and the a/c didn't help. No apologies then or were forthcoming. I was tired of being hot, so I randomly called a company from the Yellow Pages, they showed up within the hour and fixed it.
The next time I called AHS, one of our commodes had been frequently stopping up and the valve at the house for the main water supply line was leaking, too. I bought a new commode and brought it home for the guy to install because I was sure it was stopping up because of calcification inside the fixture. I took the day off to be at home for the repairs.
The plumber came and told me that the water supply valve wasn't covered because it was on the outside of the house. He said the commode wasn't regulated right and that there was no need to install the new one.
"Well, can you fix the valve while you're here and install the new commode anyway?"
"No, $55 please." I had to write off the day, too.
The commode immediately began stopping up after he "adjusted it" just as it had before. I pulled the old one, installed the new one myself. Cost of the fixture $225.00. Total time less than forty-five minutes.
The air conditioning began leaking freon. This time AHS sent an a/c company to do the repair. The fellow was friendly, knew his stuff, and got it fixed immediately. He fixed it, and he had come on time. Wow!
The hose that goes to the sprayer at the kitchen sink began leaking. "Hey, American Home Shield, the kitchen sink sprayer hose is leaking and needs replacing."
"How about tomorrow before 10 AM?"
"Great! I'll be waiting."
The plumber came, looked at the problem then asked me to bring in my warranty. "See right here? Replacing washers and stuff like that isn't covered? By the way, I'm a single father trying to raise a young daughter by mself," he added.
"Can you fix it while you're here?" I asked.
"No, $55 please."
Perhaps if this is the business formula followed by all of the home warranty companies, it's time for them to make a change or maybe it's time for real estate agents to discontinue pushing their warranties -- I mean, it's not like we make anything from making the sales for them, and I have to believe that my experiences replicate those of others; worst of all the experiences of those to whom we recommended the services.
Whatever the case, the warranty companies need to be responsible for telling you up front that the service you've requested is likely to not be covered by their warranty. And further, their contracts with the service companies need to specifically require them to make any and all repairs at local market rates whether or not the AHS warranty covers the repair.
As it is, the primary reason for being a AHS service contractor is the $55 annuity for telling the homeowner, "$55 please," and not delivering any service whatsoever in the process.
BILL CHERRY, BROKER-REALTOR. MY 43RD YEAR SELLING TEXAS! 972 380-7347
MEET ME ON THE WEB AT WWW.BILLCHERRYBROKER.COM