Thousands frustrated with home warranty company

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s been a frustrating year for a Kansas City family who says they can’t seem to get their home warranty company to fix anything.

Vicki and Karl Kingsley signed a three-year contract with Choice Home Warranty last year.

“We’ve had air conditioner problems, furnace problems and drainage problems,” Vicki said.

While Choice Home Warranty’s contract states it will fix or replace most appliances, including air conditioners and furnaces if they stop working, the Kingsleys said they’re the ones who foot the bill.

The problem came to a head when the Kingsleys' water heater went out.

“I said, 'Look, we’ve called you [Choice Home Warranty] three or four times out here and you guys always come up with some kind of an excuse,'” Vicki said.

According to the Kingsleys, Choice Home wouldn't fix the water heater. When Vicki told the company she wanted her money back, she said Choice Home gave them $300 toward a new water heater.

The 41 Action News investigators have heard from other families in the area who have similar complaints.

One family even did an interview with 41 Action News, but then backed out when they said the company offered to refund their money as long as the family didn’t talk about the issue.

The company has a B- rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Choice Home Warranty also has more than 3,000 complaints with the BBB.

Aaron Reese, communications director with the Better Business Bureau of Greater Kansas City said the BBB has had to go after Choice Home Warranty because the company was bribing people to post positive reviews.

“People need to be very careful whenever they deal with a company that has a reputation like that,” Reese said.

In 2015, the New Jersey-based business settled a lawsuit for nearly $800,000 for deceptive business practices.

The Missouri Attorney General also sent 41 Action News 15 pages of complaints filed against Choice Home Warranty with its office.

The Kingsleys said the reason Choice Home Warranty wouldn't fix their water heater is because it doesn't replace water heaters due to issues with the pressure valve, which is why their water heater stopped working.

The contract lists several parts and components that make up a water heater that Choice Home Warranty exempts itself from replacing.

“If they start making exception after exception in the contract that’s where you want to be careful,” Reese said. “If there’s a bunch of limitations in the contract and they don’t bring it up to you, that’s a red flag.”

41 Action News Investigators placed calls and emails to Choice Home Warranty but they were not returned.

The Kingsleys did have some words they wanted to share, though.

“Don’t waste your money,” Vicki said.

Before buying a home warranty, Reese suggests checking the manufacturer’s warranty. Often time appliances are already covered.

He also suggests checking with people who’ve used a company and had success with getting their appliances repaired.

Last, if a company says they’ll replace just about anything with no limitations but then the contract lists a bunch of exemptions it’s better to reach out to a company that is up front.

“They’re going to spell out the exceptions in the sales process if they’re a good home warranty company,” Reese said.

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