Today, many homeowners buy some sort of home warranty to financially protect themselves in a variety of circumstances. A typical home warranty company will cover qualified structural defects for 10 years after the closing date, and many home warranties cover appliances and damages not covered with homeowners insurance.
However, one Northeast Philadelphia woman is learning the hard way about the importance of working with reputable home warranty companies.
Gloria Montanez purchased a home warranty from Secure Home Warranty for $399. It was supposed to cover her appliances and plumbing. But after making several unreturned calls, Montanez still couldn’t get in touch with the company.
Montanez’s plumbing is what prompted her to reach out to the company.
“The worst thing you could have is a backed up sink,” she told Action News Troubleshooters at WPVI-TV.
In the past, she’s had to call about her HVAC system. Cooling and heating equipment becomes less efficient over time. Yet among homeowners with central air conditioning, only 42% regularly have their AC serviced. But when Montanez’s water heater broke down, the home warranty company never got back to her.
“I had to call the original installer of the heating and air conditioning, and he fixed the problem,” Montanez said.
Montanez notes that the few times a technician did come to her residence to troubleshoot, nothing was repaired with success. And upon calling with her most recent issue, she was told very troubling news.
“Finally, one of the girls says to me, ‘The company went out of business,'” Montanez said.
Lance Haver, Director of Civic Engagement for Philadelphia’s City Council, is all too familiar with stories like these.
“I’ve received over twenty complaints from across the nation from consumers who bought their product and then were unable to get their claim satisfied,” Haver said.
Many of the complaints include reports of no call-backs, and others simply heard a recording saying that the number is unassigned.
“Or when they filed the claim online, nobody came out, nobody did the work,” Haver said.
While the company does have an address on Market Street in Philadelphia, it’s a virtual office.
“They’re not actually here. There is no one to talk to here. And the company doesn’t exist here,” Haver said.
When finally contacted on the phone, a representative wouldn’t disclose the actual location of the company, but they did make a statement.
“They say they’ve been out of business for the last five or six weeks because their computer broke, their server was down,” Haver said.
Now, they say their services have become available once again.
“We are back up and running…Our claims representatives are standing by…Our sole goal is to make sure our customers are taken care of,” they said.
Montanez, however, isn’t convinced. Luckily, they’re providing her with a full refund as a sign of ‘good faith.’ Ultimately, this incident serves as a lesson to proceed with caution when it comes to home warranties. Before signing up for a home warranty, check reviews and The Better Business Bureau for more information.
“They never did anything for me,” said Montanez.