Jan 16, 2008

My experience with a home protection plan (aka home warranty) + an update on our washer

When we bought our townhouse, our agent made sure it came with a home warranty from American Home Shield. We had been told during the inspection that the air conditioning unit was old and would need to be replaced sooner rather than later. Sure enough, during that first year of home ownership, our air conditioner died. AHS sent out a technician who went up to the roof, saw that ours was the only unit that hadn't been replaced, and said, "You need a new one." It wasn't long before we had a new unit, which needed to be installed with the use of a crane.

It turned out that shortly before we got our new air conditioner, my in laws got a new air conditioner as well, and also needed a crane for installation. When all was said and done, they had paid many thousands for their new air conditioner and its installation. We paid a service fee of $45 and something like $90 for the disposal of the old freon.

Notwithstanding the complaints I heard from friends about the shortcomings of their home protection plan (which usually involved a "this isn't covered"), AHS seemed like a pretty good deal to us.

It's now several years later and we've had many more experiences with AHS. We don't really have any major complaints - the work that hasn't been covered is clearly stated as not covered in the written contract. And the work that has been covered has been fine. What we've discovered, though, is that there's a fair number of things that aren't covered, as stated in the contract.

The Washer Update
And then there's our washer. When I mentioned previously that we've had someone out to fix it multiple times, I was referring to someone sent out by AHS, since our washer is a covered appliance. The service fee is now $55, so each visit that's occurred more than 30 days after the last one has cost $55 (visits within 30 days of the first visit are covered by that service fee). As I said, they've been out multiple times for the same problem. The washer is very old, but it does work fine after it's been repaired, at least for a while. But even though the same technician has come out, he's never once suggested that a new washer might be in order. (Part of the warranty is that if the appliance is not repairable, they'll replace it.)

I didn't feel that I could legitimately argue with the technician that he needed to tell AHS they owe us a new washer. After all, the washer is technically repairable. But I also wasn't going to keep paying $55 every couple of months. At this point, Marc and I both reviewed the AHS contract and decided that it was no longer worth keeping. So I called AHS and was transferred to the retention department.

I explained the problem and the representative, let's call her Virginia, said she could see from their records that we had indeed requested a technician for the same problem six times in the last year. She also noted that we had been good customers for years and said she didn't want to lose us over this. She asked if I would give her a chance to see what she could do. Since there's only a couple of months left on our contract and our refund would be small, I said yes.

Virginia was supposed to call me back but didn't. I had to call her. At least she'd given me a direct number. She said that she'd spoken to several technicians and none of them could offer a good cause for the problem, except that perhaps I was improperly loading the washer and causing it to go out of balance. I told her that wasn't the case, so she said she would send me two service fee coupons and that the next time I needed a repair, I should call her directly so that she could arrange for a different technician to come out. And I could pay with one of the coupons. All of this contingent on me not canceling the contract. I agreed.

So that's where we stand now. The washer will probably need repairing in the next 3 to 6 weeks, if history is any indication. I've decided that I'll give AHS til the end of the current contract to either permanently fix the washer (which probably isn't possible, given that the contract expires in two months) or to give me a new washer. If neither of those things happens, I won't be renewing with them.

In the meantime, I've discovered that buying an Energy-Star rated washer (like the one pictured from Sears) would get me a $250 rebate from LA DWP.


Anonymous said...

Most home warranty companies are known for poor service. There are few better ones. Provider reviews are available at this website -


Chief Family Officer said...

Thanks for link. Looks like an interesting site, maybe a little out of date since the service fee for AHS is listed as $45?