Action 9

Action 9: Homeowners claim home warranty company left them stuck in the heat

ORLANDO, Fla. — Several customers contacted Action 9 claiming their home warranty company failed to fix their air conditioning unit for weeks. One homeowner said he called American Home Shield four months ago and he still couldn’t cool his home.

Action 9 consumer investigator Todd Ulrich took action for American Home Shield customers and looked into how homeowners can get the warranty protection they paid for.

“This is better than no AC?” Ulrich asked.

“Oh yes. Absolutely. This makes it possible to sleep at night,” Mark Fredlake said.

Fredlake installed a window unit air conditioner after his home warranty company failed to fix his central AC that started acting up 3 months ago.

Since then, he claims American Home Shield sent technicians to fix the AC seven times and failed every time.

“It's stringing a person along, and I think they want me to quit and just go away,” Fredlake said.

Fredlake said, a month ago AHS agreed to replace a compressor it couldn't fix. The company sent techs from Total Air Care to his home, but the replaced parts didn't work. Three weeks ago the techs left the unit torn apart then kept delaying replacing the AC.

“Did you feel you were a low priority?” Ulrich asked.

“Oh yes. No priority,” Fredlake said.

Fourteen consumers contacted Action 9 with similar complaints against AHS in just two years. Including an Ocala woman who claimed she'd been without AC for 10 days.

American Home Shield is rated B at the Better Business Bureau.

The company has several thousand complaints nationwide and many involve how it handled AC repairs.

Consumer experts say home warranties include fine print that can make consumers wait weeks to replace AC systems that can't be fixed.

“Consumers have been waiting days even weeks for repairs, when if they paid out of pocket, they could have had it fixed within 24 or 48 hours,” said BBB President Holly Salmons.

Ulrich contacted American Home Shield about both recent complaints. The homeowner in Ocala and Fredlake in Clermont had their AC restored the same week.

The company told Ulrich it responded to 60,000 repairs in Florida and the vast majority were completed without delay.

“They should live up to their end of the bargain,” Fredlake said.

American Home Shield also said it’s investing in infrastructure to do a better job addressing service delays.

Since a home warranty is a type of insurance, consumers can send complaints to Florida’s Department of Financial Services.

American Home Shield responded:

We are proud to deliver professional repair and replacement services to more than 75,000 homeowners each day. So far this year we have responded to nearly 60,000 HVAC requests in Florida and the vast majority have been completed without incident or delay. We take great pride in providing valuable service and protection to our customers. If we fail to meet those expectations, we work to do the right thing and ensure the situation is properly resolved.

We sincerely apologize that we did not meet Mr. Fredlake's and Ms. Popp's service expectations, or that of our own.

In Mr. Fredlake's situation, the unit was repaired on August 7, 2019, and is working properly. With older HVAC units, it is not uncommon for multiple repairs to be required. In this situation, unfortunately, each repair revealed that additional repairs were needed, which we are happy to report are now resolved. In addition, we are reimbursing him for half of his non-covered expenses associated with these repairs as well as his service fee.

In Ms. Popp's situation, the unit was repaired on August 7, 2019, and is working properly. Ms. Popp incurred no additional costs for her repairs. However, we have offered to reimburse Ms. Popp for the cost of refrigerant to her unit.

We are investing in our infrastructure to ensure that we can do a better job in proactively addressing delays in service and managing situations such as these in the future.

We take these matters seriously and thoroughly investigate each situation to better understand where breakdowns occurred. In situations like this we review not only our own processes but we also engage in careful review of all aspects of the customer service experience.

We are staying in contact with Mr. Fredlake and Ms. Popp and we hope to have the opportunity to be of continued service and provide an experience that better reflects our values and commitments.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich,

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.