For more than five weeks, I have been embroiled in a home warranty battle involving a refrigerator-freezer that stopped working in August.
Let me give you a little piece of advice. If you ever find yourself in a home warranty battle, just pull out your wallet. There. I just saved you a great deal of time.
On the last Friday of August, I called my home warranty company to report that my refrigerator-freezer wasn’t working. Everything in my freezer had thawed. The stuff in my refrigerator was cool, but definitely not cold.
It was the second time this happened. Back in December 2021, the exact same problem came up out of the blue. So this is the second time my fridge died.
When you have a home warranty and something goes wrong, you call them and they dispatch a contractor to do the repairs. The contractor then gets in touch with you about setting up a time for a service call. They show up, diagnose the problem, and report back to the warranty company. Based on that report, the warranty company will cover the cost of repair, decline to pay, or replace it if it is beyond repair.
In a perfect world, everything would happen in a timely fashion. This is not a perfect world, of course, so a home warranty company can easily become more of a hassle than a help.
When the fridge died a second time, I was not happy. I called the warranty company and they assigned a service provider. That person never called me to arrange an appointment. He didn’t return my calls. The warranty company called him and couldn’t get through.
In the meantime, the bottom part of the door to my microwave broke off. This meant that the glass window through which you can see the food as it cooks was being held in place by about an inch of plastic. If that gave way, the glass could fall and shatter my glass-top oven below. I called them back and asked if we could add the microwave to the same ticket. Since the provider hadn’t come by yet, they said that wasn’t a problem.
After a couple of days, they reassigned the case. The second provider was at my place within two days. He took a quick look at oth, made notes, and said he’d research the parts and get them ordered.
I waited. And waited. And waited.
The following week, I called the warranty company. They said they hadn’t heard from the provider. I asked if they’d called him. They said they hadn’t. I pointed out that I’m paying them to get repairs made. So if they don’t get the information they need, they should pick up the phone. They assured me they would do so.
I waited some more. I texted the service provider, who told me he had parts on order for the fridge and was waiting to hear back about the microwave.
After a few days, I called the warranty company again. They said they still hadn’t gotten a report from the service provider and that they would reach out again. (I don’t know that I believe they reached out to begin with.) Without the report, they said they couldn’t authorize repairs or even authorize the order of parts.
I gave it a few days. Then I called them again.
I caught an inconsistency.
They claimed they still had no report from the service provider. But they said they had a question about one of the parts the service provider wanted to order. They said the service provider reported that the previous provider had taken a “control board” and didn’t return it.
I corrected them. The missing part that the first provider allegedly took in December was missing when he opened up the control panel housing. It wasn’t there from the time I moved in. They pounced on that, saying that if the part wasn’t there, then they couldn’t cover replacing it.
I told them I didn’t expect them to. But I pointed out that it was false that the first guy had taken that part. Then I sprang my little surprise on them.
“So the service provider said in his report that the first guy took the part?” I asked.
“Yes, that’s what he said,” the operator said.
“You told me you never received that report.” I answered.
There was one of those pregnant pauses you hear when you catch someone making a little fib. She stammered something about “notes” rather than a “full report.” They still had to wait for the full report so that they could order the parts for the fridge.
“Wait a second,” I said. “The guy told me he had those parts on order. Was that a lie?”
They didn’t have a good answer here. They speculated that he might have ordered the parts but that his supplier couldn’t deliver. But for the warranty company to order them, they needed the full report. They assured me they’d reach back out to the guy and ask for the full report.
Guess what they decided about the microwave!
Three weeks into this little home warranty battle, they finally gave me a news flash about the microwave. Since the repair would involve the door, they considered that a “cosmetic” issue. It didn’t matter to them that the glass might fall out at any moment. It didn’t matter to them that I couldn’t operate the microwave with packing tape wrapped around the door to hold the glass in pace.
The door isn’t internal and all they cover with microwaves is internal elements.
They could have told me that three weeks earlier when I added the microwave to the ticket and explained what the issue was. In fact, by the time they bothered to tell me they wouldn’t cover a microwave door, I had discussed the door problem with at least three different operators.
They knew the problem. They knew they wouldn’t cover it. But they waited three weeks to tell me that.
That day, I went to Home Depot and bought a new microwave. Installers put it in two days later. It took them 20 minutes.
First problem solved…at my expense. The home warranty company paid nothing on that.
The refrigerator battle pressed on.
I called the service provider and let him know that the warranty company was claiming he wasn’t sending the report they needed. I asked him to please send them whatever they wanted. By now, we were a month into this.
Think about that for a second: How would you like to live a full month without a working fridge? You can’t really cook unless you ar able to cook only the amount you’re going to eat because you can’t refrigerate leftovers.
So you end up eating out all the time. That has a little bit of appeal…for a while. But after a month of almost exclusively eating out, it starts to get old. It certainly starts to hit your budget!
I called the warranty company again a few days later. They said they had the report. But now there was another problem. The guy wanted to order three parts: a defrost heater, a defrost thermostat, and a control board. But the control board was the question: Was it the same piece that the first contractor discovered was missing back in December, or was there a control board that handled the defrosting function?
I knew if it was that missing piece, we were going to be in trouble.
I called the service provider and asked him which control board he was talking about. Yes, it was that missing piece. But he said he’d review the schematics for that model of fridge to see if the defrost heater and thermostat could function without the control board.
Well, obviously, they could because they had from October 2020, when I moved in, until December of 2021. And they worked again without that board from January to the end of August. But if this was going to be a recurring problem, I had no interest in losing the contents of my freezer over and over again.
He said he’d research this when he got back to the office and let the warranty company know if the repair could be made without the control board.
I caught the warranty company in an even bigger inconsistency.
I called them two days ago. They said they were waiting to hear back from the service provider.
I asked about options. If the missing part was needed, I knew they wouldn’t cover that. But what options — at that point — would I have? Their operator, Patricia, told me the most they’d be able to do is reimburse me for the cost of the parts they could order, freight, and the labor they would have paid to install the two parts. The operator — Patricia — quoted me $204.95. They’d send me a check for that amount that I could put toward the cost of a new refrigerator.
But the next day, I called back for another update. I wanted to know if they had confirmed for certain that the missing part was the part the provider needed. They put me on hold to call him to verify. (Why weren’t they so quick to call weeks earlier?) They came back on the phone and said it was that missing part.
Since the part was missing, they couldn’t cover replacing it. But this second operator — Tremaine — claimed that because they couldn’t cover the missing part, they wouldn’t cover anything.
I told her that’s not what I was told the day before. She said that was the policy. They couldn’t cover anything at all. Knowing she had my file open in front of her, I asked her to look up the name of the person I spoke with. She said it was Patricia. Then she started to tell me what notes Patricia had left.
“Yes, please tell me what Patricia wrote,” I said. “What did she say she told me?”
Well, lo and behold: Patricia wrote that she quoted me that $204.95. She noted that if they couldn’t cover the repair because of the missing part, they’d pay the partial repair costs to me that I could put toward a new fridge.
Suddenly, the tune changed dramatically. Suddenly, they could now send me that check after all.
On top of that, a revised quote popped up: $279.25. As soon as I send them the receipt for the fridge I buy, they’ll send me that check within 14 days.
You can bet I’ll be watching the calendar.
Fifteen minutes vs. five-and-a-half weeks
I went back to Home Depot after having already identified the model I wanted. I found the fridge in the store, verified the sizes, and told the salesperson that was the unit I wanted. So bought it, along with a five-year warranty. (That’s as long of a warranty as I could get, but if something goes wrong, I do not want to deal with this home warranty company if I can help it.)
It took me fifteen minutes from the time I found the fridge I wanted in the store to the time I was walking out of the store with receipt in hand and delivery scheduled.
It took the home warranty company five-and-a-half weeks to make me live without a working fridge and make little to no effort to rectify that situation.
Needless to say, I’m already researching other options for a home warranty company.
In the meantime, by this time next week, I’ll actually have a working refrigerator for which I’m footing most of the bill. It would have been all of the bill had I not paid attention and made notes about past conversations.
This home warranty company seems uninterested in displaying even a modicum of urgency when it comes to the repair of a major appliance. I shouldn’t have had to call this company this many times over the past five weeks.
I’m paying them to manage this sort of thing. They should have been hounding the repairman if he didn’t get them what they needed.
I should never have had to hound them — especially if it took this long to find out that I was going to have to pay for a new microwave and most of a new refrigerator.
Buyer beware: Do your research if you’re buying a home warranty protection plan. The wrong selection can definitely cause more headaches than that protection plan is worth.