BOSSIER CITY, La -- You bought a new home. You want to protect what's important -- the appliances, the systems, and, especially in Louisiana, the air conditioning. So you may pay up to an average of 700 dollars for a one-year home warranty.
But one customer – and a surprise one at that – is sweating out their repairs, after signing with one of America’s leading home warranty companies.
“You wouldn't wish this on your worst enemy to go through the whole summer just about with no air conditioning,” realtor Jonathan Newton said inside his warm home that he bought earlier this year.
A thermometer showed it was 82 degrees inside the home on a recent morning, almost matching the outdoor temperature before the heat of the day.
Fans and three window units the Newtons bought while the repair process drags on are making the home tolerable.
Newton says that at the end of June, both air conditioning units that cool their spacious home in the Oak Alley neighborhood broke down. So Jonathan and Ginger Newton filed a claim with their home warranty company, American Home Shield.
But it’s only gotten them hot under the collar. There've been seemingly endless delays and lack of communication.
The Newtons say neither of the only two companies in our area that do air conditioning repairs under American Home Shield warranties would take the job.
So American Home Shield allowed the Newtons to hire their own repair company. The estimate for parts is nearly $11,000.
And after American Home Shield placed the order, only one unit came in.
"And it was completely the wrong one," Newton said, pointing to an empty corner outside the home where the dead unit was pulled out.
To make things worse, The Newtons say they can’t pay their company for the repair, then get reimbursed.
"American Home Shield has told us that all repairs have to be authorized by them," Newton explained.
What’s more, the Newtons are a husband and wife real estate team. They operate an office for Remax. And they’ve offered American Home Shield warranties to their sellers and buyers. But, no more, they say.
“We hate that we have sold this policy in the past, and we're seeing exactly how they've been treating clients,” Ginger Newton said.
Asked whether home warranties are a good idea, Bob Davis with the Better Business Bureau warns, "It can be but it can also be a nightmare.”
Davis says people should do their homework when choosing a home warranty company.
“Certainly read the small print,” Davis says.
The internet services company, Angi, says home owners should find out what’s excluded in a warranty plan. Also check to see if older appliances are covered, and whether you can call your own repair service.
And, adds Davis, “I would find out what local companies they are using, before you sign the contract with them."
While American Home Shield advertises that it’s one of the top home warranty companies, Davis says they’re the subject of numerous complaints.
The BBB's profile on that company shows more than 18,000 complaints in the last three years. The BBB gives them a rating of 2 1/2 stars out of 5.
The Newtons are at their mercy.
"I've done everything that I've known how to do without, you know, flying up to the headquarters and going in and seeing the guy himself, Jonathan Newton said.
American Home Shield gave KTBS a written statement, saying in part, "We sincerely apologize for the delay in resolving the Newton’s situation. Our customer care team is in contact with Mr. and Mrs. Newton, and we are working with them to ensure this is resolved as quickly as possible."
The Newtons say their own air conditioning repair company stopped working with American Home Shield, because they did not pay them on time. Their repairman also says that American Home Shield would rather do band-aid fixes, and not fully repair a problem, which puts the local company’s reputation at risk.
If you feel ripped off by a home warranty company, Davis advises you to file a complaint with the BBB. He says they'll try to get the problem resolved. And if they can’t, the home warranty company will get a bad rating.