Action News Troubleshooters: Home warranty headaches

Many people buy home warranties in case something goes wrong with their plumbing or with a major appliance.

But many consumers are complaining that one company isn't honoring claims or even returning calls.

Action News Troubleshooters went to the company's Philadelphia office for answers and got some surprising results.

"The worst thing you could have is a backed up sink," Gloria Montanez of Northeast Philadelphia told the Troubleshooters.

When that happened to Montanez, she contacted her home warranty company.

"Never answered my calls. Never," Montanez said.

Montanez paid Secure Home Warranty $399 to protect her appliances and plumbing and says this is the second time it's failed to return her calls.

She says the first was when her heater broke down.

"I had to call the original installer of the heating and air conditioning, and he fixed the problem," Montanez said.

Montanez says even when the company has dispatched technicians, nothing's been successfully repaired. And when she kept calling with her most recent claim?

"Finally, one of the girls says to me, 'The company went out of business,'" Montanez said.

The Troubleshooters spoke with Lance Haver, the Director of Civic Engagement for Philadelphia's City Council.

"I've received over twenty complaints from across the nation from consumers who bought their product and then were unable to get their claim satisfied," Haver said.

Some people report no call-backs, while others received a recording the number is unassigned and then their call was disconnected.

"Or when they filed the claim online, nobody came out, nobody did the work," Haver said.

The company address is 1735 Market Street, Philadelphia's BNY Mellon Center.

"We've never seen them or met them," a receptionist in the building tells the Troubleshooters.

She says they've never seen one person from Secure Home Warranty in the building.

That's because Secure Home Warranty paid to use the location only as a virtual office.

"They're not actually here. There is no one to talk to here. And the company doesn't exist here," Haver said.

The virtual office manager says she has now terminated Secure Home Warranty's service.

Troubleshooters did finally talk to a representative of Secure Home Warranty on the phone. He refused to divulge where the company is actually staffed.

But Secure Home Warranty did have a statement.

"They say they've been out of business for the last five or six weeks because their computer broke, their server was down," Haver said.

Secure Home Warranty tells the Action News Troubleshooters, "We are back up and running...Our claims representatives are standing by...Our sole goal is to make sure our customers are taken care of."

But Montanez wants her money back.

"They never did anything for me," Montanez said.

Secure Home Warranty says it will give Montanez a full refund of $399 as a sign of "good faith." And says it will look into the other customer accounts the Troubleshooters provided.

Here is some advice from Consumer Reports:

AVOID home warranties altogether. Unlike insurance policies, they are not regulated and they are not worth the cost. Instead put money into a savings account so it's there when you need it.

If you have a complaint about Secure Home Warranty, email the Troubleshooters through, or let me know through Facebook or Twitter.
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