No A/C, no-show techs leave homeowner steaming mad during heat wave

Sally Neasbitt paid thousands for an extended warranty from Choice Home Warranty
Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 12:03 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 3, 2022 at 12:44 PM EDT
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MADISON, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - When the upstairs air conditioner at Sally Neasbitt’s home stopped working, metro Atlanta was in the early stage of a heat wave.

“I’m a polar bear,” Neasbitt said. “I don’t do heat well.”

Neasbitt had recently renewed her plan with Choice Home Warranty (CHW), a company offering service contracts “that covers the repair or replacement of important appliances and systems components that break down over time.”

To its credit, CHW claims to have handled more than five million claims. Neasbitt had been happy with their service. But that was about to change.

When Neasbitt requested service for her broken air conditioner on June 5, CHW dispatched one of its repair service vendors the next day. But that technician was a no-show, and over the next three weeks, Neasbitt said there were a total of three missed appointments.

In the same time frame, Neasbitt said two technician kept their appointments and both came up with the same diagnosis: the outdoor condenser unit was broken and required replacement. But the work was never done.

Neasbitt said one of the technicians was reassigned, and when she called CHM for an update, she learned the other technician was no longer an approved vendor.

In late June, Neasbitt said the repair was approved but never completed.

Now frustrated and furious, Neasbitt decided she’d waited long enough and hired a repair company outside of CHW’s network to fix the problem. The diagnosis was the same.

“Your fan motor is locked up; it won’t even spin,” said Trey Hale, owner of Hale’s Heating and Cooling.

Generally speaking, Hale said larger HVAC companies do not want to work with home warranty companies because of the required paperwork and the wait for approval or denial. Hale said of the last 15 claims he’s had with CHW, only two were approved.

Hale said one of the tactics warranty companies use is to look for rust on the unit or anything weathered, “which is kind of tough when you have something that sits out in the weather.”

Eventually, CHW offered the Neasbitts a $1,000 cash payout, about a third of the estimated repair cost.

After three months, Neasbitt contacted Better Call Harry at Atlanta News First. A few days later, CHW raised its offer from $1,000 to $3,000, the maximum allowed benefit under the terms of the contract.

Neasbitt estimated the actual cost of the repair was $4,700. When she asked for the additional funds, CHW’s vice president of dispute resolution agreed, and Neasbitt said, he couldn’t have been nicer.

Neasbitt was so pleased with the response she’s decided to keep her warranty. She said she will use the money from the payout to purchase a new HVAC.

Here are the takeaways:

  • If you are happy with your home warranty, take a moment to review the terms of your contract.
  • If you’re uncomfortable with the terms, consider canceling and putting the monthly payment into a savings account.
  • If you are buying the contract primarily to cover the air conditioner and heating system, consider buying a service contract with an HVAC company. Experts say your system should be serviced at least twice a year.
  • If you do need a new system, many HVAC companies now offer low interest and sometimes no interest financing.

If there’s something you would like Atlanta News First′s Consumer Investigator Better Call Harry to look into, fill out this submission form.