American Home Shield,
Business Unit of The ServiceMaster Company
860 Ridge Lake Blvd.
Memphis, TN 38135
I have had a home warranty contract since I purchased my home during February 1998, and every year since with American Home Shield, (hereafter, AHS). http://www.ahs.com
The categories that are covered under my AHS home warranty are:
- Air Conditioning
- Duct Work
- Garbage Disposal
- Water Heater
- Electrical System
- Built-In Microwave
- Trash Compactor
A certified and licensed engineering firm inspected my home on January 14, 2013. In his report, the inspector noted that; The heat pump was making a loud clicking noise, indicating a bad electrical switch.
I had heard this clicking noise periodically for at least the past year, but did not know if it was normal or if it indicated an abnormality.
I reported the problem with the heat pump as identified in the inspectors report to AHS on January 16, 2013.
During my conversation with the AHS representative, I deliberately and expressly declined to specify whether the problem was a heating or a cooling problem, since I am not a HVAC technician. However, I do know that the heat pump serves as a part of both the air conditioning system and the heating system.
My reason for being so express and deliberate not to specify whether it was a heating or cooling problem is because AHS has demonstrated a pattern of mischaracterizing the purpose of the service call, arguably to reduce its costs by at least doubling the deductibles paid by the homeowner. I did experience and document this same demonstrated pattern of mischaracterizing the purpose of the service call by AHS just a few months prior during September and October 2012, on the same HVAC unit.
I want to emphasize that irrespective of whether or not a technician was dispatched for a heating or air conditioning problem, the technician is capable of diagnosing and repairing either problem, and the service is still confined to a single unit or component of the HVAC system.
AHS dispatched Guaranteed Heating & Cooling (hereafter, GHC) to inspect / repair the problem. GHC scheduled a service call for January 18, 2013.
Guaranteed Heating & Cooling, a contractor of AHS inspected the heat pump. I have learned from GHC that the clicking noise is being caused by the reversing valve attempting to go into defrost mode, but failing to reverse and continuously retrying, but endlessly failing to go into defrost mode.
The failure of the system to go into defrost mode was further evidenced by the system icing up on the inside of the heat pump. Photos were taken of this icing condition on January 17, 2013, and are available for download at:
During the past fifteen years, I have become familiar with what is arguably AHSs increasing resistance to provide service under its warranty, and to mischaracterize the purpose of a service call, arguably to require the homeowner to pay additional deductibles, which seems to reduce AHSs cost.
I have experienced AHS dispatching a service call for an air conditioning problem, however when it was discovered it was a heating problem, a new deductible was payable, even though the service technician was in my home at the time. This is arguably a clever maneuver to reduce costs to AHS. Some people might feel that at best, this practice by AHS strains credibility.
Case-in-point was the call I made to AHS on January 16, 2013 for the instant problem with the heat pump identified by the inspector in his engineering report.
When I made the report to AHS and requested service, I was very explicit that I did not know if it was a problem with a heating element or cooling element of the system as I am not a HVAC technician or engineer. Despite my absolute explicit refusal to specify whether it was a heating or cooling component, AHS sent a dispatch request to Guaranteed Heating & Cooling on January 16, 2013 for a service call to my home, specifying the Service item(s) as Air Conditioning.
AHS is aware that my home is in Ohio and the temperatures during the relevant period had been well below freezing. This seems to be a pattern by AHS, which is arguably deliberate. AHS has demonstrated the same pattern of mischaracterizing service requests as recently as September 2012 and October 2012 on the same HVAC system in my home, and it took AHS weeks to repair the same system.
I took photographs of my outside heat pump/air-conditioning condenser on January 17, 2013. The heat pump was iced-up because the unit was not going into defrost mode. The clicking noise it was making was the unit attempting to switch into defrost mode, failing and retrying in a continuous cycle. See photos at:
The technician from Guaranteed Heating & Cooling looked at the photographs I took, and he stated that he did see the ice inside the unit, and it was apparent that the ice was from the unit not going into defrost mode and subsequently freezing up.
I called American Home Shield on January 23, 2013 at 4:42 P.M. During that call, it was explicitly stated by me several times that my unit was again making the clicking noise indicating that the reverse valve was not functioning correctly and putting the unit into defrost mode.
This call occurred after the GHC technician was at my home and had left without being able to duplicate the problem or valve failure (clicking noise). However, the GHC technician did specifically state that the ice he saw was from the unit freezing up because it was not going into defrost mode. The unit was not freezing up because of the cold weather - it was freezing up because of the mechanical failure of the reversing valve not going into defrost mode.
My call to AHS on January 23, 2013 was made post inspection by GHC, and it was post inspection that I heard the unit making the same clicking noise again.
Despite the fact that my unit was exhibiting the same mechanical failure, the AHS representative continued to rely upon the older non-diagnosis provided by GHC, which the AHS representative referenced during the conversation.
Despite the fact that I told AHS that the unit was malfunctioning again, it would not schedule a service call, but rather the AHS representative would only continue to rely upon the prior non-diagnosis that was now superseded by the fact that the unit was again malfunctioning. AHS should have re-dispatched a service call, as the unit was again exhibiting the very malfunction that AHS stated needed to be witnessed by the technician in order to authorize repair.
Despite contacting AHS on January 23, 2013 (which was after the GHC technician could not duplicate the problem), and me stating that the system was again making the clicking noise, AHS is stating that the service request is closed, relying on an out-dated diagnosis from the technician from GHC who could not duplicate the clicking noise. I emphasize that the referenced diagnosis was made prior to my call to AHS on January 23, 2013, during which I reported the recurrence of the problem.
Since the unit was again malfunctioning, the prior diagnosis was no longer a valid diagnosis.
I emphasize that the heat pump malfunction is well documented by a certified engineer within a couple of days of the GHC technicians inspection. Further, I called AHS on January 23, 2013 and told them that the heat pump was again making the clicking noise and not going into defrost mode. Despite telling AHS that the problem is continuing and recurring, AHS refuses to provide service under its contractual warranty obligations.
AHS is aware that the unit in question is twenty (20) years old, and over the past fifteen years, AHS contractors have performed work of questionable quality as shown in the photographs located at:
Guaranteed Heating and Cooling told me that my HVAC units are beyond their service life.
A failure of my heating system could obviously prove detrimental to anyone, and with my medical conditions, it could prove fatal. I did explain this to AHS and they simply do not care. AHS is aware of my medical conditions, it is aware that I am disabled, it was aware that my system was still in disrepair, AHS was aware that the system was experiencing the same symptoms as was identified in the aforementioned engineering report, and AHS has refused to dispatch a service call. If this is exemplary of how AHS treats persons of the disabled community, at very best, it is egregiously cruel.
Due to the severity of the cold weather in Columbus, Ohio and AHSs refusal to perform on its contractual warranty obligations, I was faced with no other alternative but to replace the entire HVAC system at my expense.
I filed a complaint with the Consumer Protection Section of the Ohio Attorney Generals Office. The Consumer protection Section offers a dispute resolution program if all parties are receptive to an amicable resolution to a complaint. AHS, in coordination with its contractors refused to participate in any dispute resolution process, which arguably amounts to a large corporation stonewalling the disabled person. I have been medically and physically disabled since September 2002.
Rather than participate in a productive resolution process, AHS provided the Ohio Attorney Generals office with information that is arguably knowingly fallacious, manipulated and fabricated, and arguably concealed material information knowing that it would engender a very different opinion if the withheld information were not considered. Indisputable evidence can be made available to prove these allegations. However, I believe that much could be resolved if officers and directors of AHS and its parent company, Service Master, are compelled to provide sworn affidavits stating that AHS did not refuse to dispatch a service call on my HVAC unit during my conversation with AHS on January 23, 2013, despite my report that the unit was again exhibiting the same dysfunction as previously reported.
Furthermore, AHS has cited it arbitration clause in its contract conterminous with its refusal to participate in the OAGs resolution process. Some people may not have agreed to such a provision had they known that their access to the judicial process would be infringed by a condition that is onerous and arguably intended to create obstacles to any individual attempting to pursue fundamental legal remedies.