WKYT Investigates | Home warranty warning: Not all companies ‘created equal,’ experts say, amid complaints
The state AG’s office says it has an “ongoing” investigation after dozens of consumer complaints related to Choice Home Warranty.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - The state attorney general’s office says it is looking into a popular home warranty company that has already faced problems and lawsuits in other states.
The Kentucky Office of the Attorney General has an “ongoing” investigation into Choice Home Warranty, a spokesperson told WKYT’s Garrett Wymer. The office has received 47 consumer complaints against the company going back to 2018.
In 2019, the attorney general of Arizona filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against Choice Home Warranty. And in the last three years, the Better Business Bureau in New Jersey, where the company is based, has received more than 11,000 complaints from customers across the country.
That all comes after the company agreed to pay $780,000 and revise its business practices as part of a settlement with the New Jersey attorney general in 2015.
Choice Home Warranty did not respond to WKYT’s request for comment.
The company, which is not BBB accredited, currently has a D+ rating with the BBB. Their responses to many of the BBB complaints against them state that they have abided by the terms and conditions of their policies.
“Your home is the largest and most expensive thing you own, that you’ve invested in, and you want to take good care of it,” said Heather Clary, a spokesperson for the BBB serving Greater Kentucky and South Central Indiana. “But all home warranty companies are not created equal.”
BBB experts encourage people to:
- do research ahead of time;
- look up other customers’ experiences and complaints;
- consider selecting a BBB-accredited business; and
- closely read the warranty’s terms and conditions.
[Read more from the BBB here about purchasing home warranties.]
The BBB also recommends paying your warranty with a credit card, which can help with any disputes, and keep all records and correspondence on file just in case something goes wrong.
“There are some good ones,” Clary said of home warranty companies, “and maybe some not so good ones.”
The struggles hit far too close to home for one Berea woman who shared her story with WKYT Investigates of fighting with Choice for months over a repair before canceling her policy with nothing to show for it.
“As you can see,” she said, thumbing through bills and bank statements, “I have enough bills to pay without paying for something I’m getting nothing out of.”
On top of the medical bills she is facing from a weeks-long hospital stay, Fugitt still needs more work done on her air conditioning - something that she hoped by now would have been fixed.
Fugitt said she signed up with Choice Home Warranty in March 2022 after seeing a TV commercial. She began paying $49.25 each month, her bank statements show. A couple of months later, Fugitt said, her A/C unit was not working correctly, so she called Choice.
The contractor that was sent out to her identified a problem, but said the warranty would not cover it.
“He said it’d be 650-some dollars,” she told WKYT’s Garrett Wymer. “I said, ‘Honey, I don’t have $658.’ He said, ‘Well, can you afford half of it?’”
She paid half for half the refrigerant he said it needed, but it did not hold - signaling a larger problem - and she says the contractor ghosted her after that. So she reached out to the warranty company.
She said she was then told her problem should be covered and they would send someone else out to fix it - because they no longer worked with the contractor they initially sent out to her - but, she said, no one ever came.
She tried unsuccessfully to get reimbursed before canceling her policy in November.
“To be honest, I’ve gave up fighting with them,” Fugitt said. “Then I finally got mad again the other day and called you guys.”
A review of the terms of service listed on Choice’s website indicates: “Labor, refrigerant, and other costs related to failure of components that are covered under manufacturer’s warranty” are excluded.
However, Fugitt was frustrated by the choice and quality of the initial contractor Choice Home Warranty sent to her, as well as a misunderstanding or lack of communication about whether the issue was covered, plus the lack of adequate response from Choice when she reached out for follow-up.
As a widow on a fixed income, Fugitt said she feels taken advantage of - something she believes happens far too often to people her age.
“If you’re over 65,” she said, “you’re fair game.”
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