American Home Shield is fraudulent

7 minute read


I have been a customer of American Home Shield, a home warranty company, for a few years until today.

This company is the worst business I have ever dealt with, I would say worse than the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Here is how the contract is supposed to work: you pay a \$46.99 monthly insurance premium, and when you have a home maintenance issue (e.g., plumbing problem, appliance malfunction, etc.), you request a service by paying a \$125 service fee and the rest is taken care of. Think of it as an insurance with a monthly premium of \$46.99 with \$125 deductible.

In reality, that is not the way it works. If the issue is minor (e.g., clogged kitchen drain pipe), they will send you a guy to fix, but the cost would be more or less around \$125 anyway. If the issue is major (e.g., malfunctioning appliance), they will find a way to make an exception and deny the claim.

Let me tell you about my long adventure with my dryer. When we moved to San Diego in 2013 and bought our house, the dryer was included, which was already pretty old. It stopped working sometime in November 2020. We could have just bought a new one, but just at the same time, my oven malfunctioned, so I decided to request a service from AHS on November 22, 2020 because you only pay \$125 once, even if it involves two appliances. Big mistake.

Since it was around Thanksgiving, it took until December 1 for the contractor to visit. The guy reset the oven and it was OK, but said he needs to order some parts for the dryer and left. The guy came back on December 23 with the parts to fix the dryer, but said he needs more parts and left. We waited, waited, but the parts never came, just as Hiro said in the Thomas the Tank Engine film “Hero of the Rails”, so sometime around January 10, 2021, I called the contractor. They said they made a request to AHS to authorize ordering new parts but got no response from them. I was pretty mad because by that time we were living without a dryer for nearly two months and I had to deal with my wife’s (legitimate) complaints. Then I called AHS and they said they have not received any request from the contractor. Great communication skill. Anyway, the customer service agent of AHS called the contractor while putting me on hold, and I was assured that the order has been authorized and the dryer should be fixed once the parts arrived.

I have waited, waited, and nothing happened until February 6, 2021, living nearly three months without a dryer. I suddenly received an email from AHS saying the service request has been completed. What does it mean for a service to be completed when the dryer is not repaired? I called AHS, but as usual the wait time was too long and I hung up. Next I called the contractor, and I was explained the dryer is not repairable and I should get a replacement or cash settlement from AHS. Now we (my wife and I) had a new hope, because to be honest we preferred buying a new dryer with the cash settlement to getting the old dryer fixed. I called AHS again, waiting patiently for a response. At last I was connected to a customer service agent, probably someone in India judging from the accent. Then I received the most horrible news: they claimed that the contractor reported that I operated the dryer between the two visits in December 2020 (which is false) and caused further damage, and therefore the warranty is void. Naturally, I asked to speak to the supervisor, but was told they are not available, and that they would return a call within 24 hours. Needless to say, the return call never came. Next I called the contractor, explained that my claim was denied, and I requested an explanation. The person I spoke to said such issues are handled by the supervisor, who was of course not available at the time, and who would call me back later. I have never heard from the contractor again.

I was pushed to the limit. That was enough. I told my wife I am going to cancel AHS the next day. She can buy whatever dryer she wants. I am an economist; I don’t care about the sunk cost, which consists of the \$125 service fee, \$46.99 insurance premium since November, the inconvenience cost of living without a dryer for three months, and my opportunity cost of making multiple phone calls. My wife has found these amazing reviews of AHS, and I gladly contributed one. I have also filed a complaint to the California Department of Insurance. Being a government agency (of the most bureaucratic state of California), I have zero expectation, but I felt I should at least report the fraud of AHS to authorities.

Today was my big day. I called AHS for one last time, and told the customer service agent that I wanted to cancel my contract. I was asked the reason, I told her the service is terrible and AHS is the worst business I have ever dealth with etc., there was some back and forth, and finally she forwarded me to the “retention department” - what a funny name. After waiting for some more time, a lady at the retention department answered, and I had to repeat all the rituals such as verifying my account number, name, address, phone number, etc., as well as explaining why I want to cancel the contract. She offered me to have a third party (different contractor) inspect the dryer and the service fee (\$125) would be paid by AHS, but I was smart enough to decline this generous offer. I insisted on cancellation. Finally she agreed to process my cancellation. (This is weird because we live in a free country - between private parties, we can do business by mutual agreement, but we do not need any agreement not to do business. The only business that forces us to do business without agreement is the government, but that is not a private party.) But to rub salt in the wound, she told me there is a \$46.99 administrative fee for cancelling a contract. I had to laugh, because it was such a great joke, except that she meant it. I told her she has just offered me to cover the \$125 service fee, so why not cover the smaller \$46.99 cancellation fee? She said she can’t do that. I said if AHS ever charges any fee to my credit card, I would report to the credit card company that it is a fraudulent charge. Then she said she will send me an invoice of \$46.99 after cancellation, and I can take care of it whatever way I want. Fine. So that was it, she cancelled my contract, I received a confirmation email of cancellation, and maybe one day I will receive an invoice of \$46.99, which of course I would just throw away.

Long story short, don’t do business with American Home Shield.