Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Hate Scams!! Buyer Beware: Choice Home Warranty

No one likes falling victim to a scam. Especially when the scam promises peace of mind, such as a home warranty. We have fallen victim to a ridiculous scam from a heartless joke of a company. Last year, we decided to purchase a home warranty. Given the fact that we don't have much savings and we bought a home that was built in 1956, we figured that it would be safe and wise to have coverage should anything break during the first few years of home ownership. I looked online at some of the big name companies and happened upon Choice Home Warranty. They seemed to offer all the same coverage as the big guys (AHS, First American), but were a little more affordable. I talked with a representative on the phone and asked about the pre-existing and maintenance clauses in the contract. He assured me that as long as the contractor that Choice sent to our home deemed the broken appliance/system to be well maintained, then that was all the documentation Choice would require to pay our claims. Great! We signed up and started making monthly payments to Choice Home Warranty. Little did I know that I had fallen victim to a scam company. This company preys on young, new home owners. They have no intention of paying any claims.

When I called in a repair after having my warranty for over 8 months, they sent a technician out to look at my heater. He stated that the heater had a very common problem, caused by normal wear and tear and easily fixable. He put in the claim and we waited. Choice demanded all maintenance records for the life of the heater (8 years). Of course, as new home owners we didn't have those. What we did have was a written statement from the technician that Choice sent out stating that our unit was clean, well-maintained and that this issue could not be caused by lack of maintenance. Choice denied our claim.

I went through months of their lengthly appeals process before following my end of the contract and filing an official complaint with the American Arbitration Association. About a week later, I received a letter from the AAA stating that since Choice Home Warranty has a history of disregarding their legal findings and general fair consumer practices, they would not take any cases involving Choice.

I've sent letters to the president of the company, begging for him to do right by the customer and either pay for our claim or give us our money back. At this point, all I want is the premium back. I am in the process of filing a claim in New Jersey, but I have a feeling this company will file bankruptcy and I will never see a dime of my money.

I doubt Choice Home Warranty will be around much longer. They have several decent reviews on the home warranty review website...something I looked at before signing up. Upon closer inspection, though, I realize that after weeks of negative reviews, there are several wonderful reviews all within minutes and hours of each other....bringing the score back up. I brought this to the attention of the home warranty review site director and he is looking into tracking the source of the reviews. Seems that CHW would rather spend their time undoing all the bad press by cheating and lying than by actually doing right by the customer.

Friends, please be aware when making a decision like this. Since canceling our policy, I spoke to a dear friend and realtor who told me that there are decent home warranty companies out there and referred me to a couple of the big names mentioned above. We signed up with First American and have been very happy.

Stay away from Choice Home Warranty. I would recommend anyone looking into buying a home warranty, spend the little extra for AHS or First American. It is worth your time and headache when you actually have a legitimate home warranty and get your claims paid in the long run.

Thanks for letting me rant!!

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