Home service contract complaints on the rise

Posted at 5:59 PM, Jun 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-07 19:43:01-04

With a fridge that's gone dark, Stephen Kurland has to dig into his cooler.

"There's not much you can save, but it's the essentials milk and cheese," explained Stephen Kurland.

Kurland's food is cold, but he's hot.

"I argued with them for awhile, and that didn't seem to work," Kurland said.

Kurland purchased a home service contract, specifically to help pay for appliance repairs.

"They tell you the reason it stopped working is because of dust on the coils. That's ridiculous. We just couldn't understand it," explained Kurland.

As he's finding out, these service plans come with all sorts of exclusions.

"I pushed a little more and they said, 'OK we'll give you a $120 goodwill credit,' " Kurland said. "I said, 'but that's still going to leave me $400 out. Why? Why is that?' "   

Fed up, Kurland got a second opinion.

Instead of a good dusting, GE's repairman installed a new control board. Something missed by the contractor for the home warranty company.

"They missed the real problem. If they didn't replace that panel it never would have been fixed," explained Kurland.

After 10 years with various home service contracts, and mixed results recently, Kurland is having second thoughts.

"To me the customer is not always right. He's wrong when it comes to warranty companies," Kurland said.

The Better Business Bureau says home service contract complaints are on the rise. Sometimes the consumer is at fault.

"You want to make sure that if someone signs a plan that they don't have an expectation that's not going to be met by the fact that it's not covered in the plan, and that's where a lot of these complaints come from," explained Michele Mason of the Better Business Bureau serving Southeast Florida and the Caribbean.

Mason said other times it's the home service company who is at fault.

"We want to make sure people do their homework and check out the company to see if these are responsive companies," said Mason.

Kurland's contract is with Choice Home Warranty. The company wouldn't go into details with us, but said they would offer something. Kurland is still waiting.

The National Home Service Contract Association represents 90 percent of the industry. They told us Choice Home Warranty asked to be a member but they were not accepted.

The trade group requires its members follow strict standards.

If you have an issue with a repair, NHSCA recommends asking for a second contractor to visit your home. You can also make file a consumer complaints through NHSCA. Top executives will be informed of your issue.

NHSCA wants customers to know this is not an emergency service contract. Most companies try to respond to concerns within 24 hours, but it can take days. The trade group says the industry is working hard to resolve complaints quickly, and meet customer expectations.