COLDWATER, Miss. - It’s been nearly two months without a working central air conditioning unit at Elesia Bailey’s Coldwater, Mississippi home.
At least nine fans and window units are buzzing throughout the house in effort to keep it livable.
“Living in here, breathing this hot air is hard,” Bailey said. “I think they need to come out here and fix what we paid for.”
Bailey said she’s fed up and has been since May. That’s when she said her A/C originally broke down.
She said her home warranty company hasn’t helped solve the issue, even though it covers this problem specifically.
“This has been going on since May the 23rd,” she said.
When she called Choice Home Warranty, Bailey said they sent an HVAC company – R W Heating, Air, Plumbing, Inc – out to fix it within a week.
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According to a receipt, the repairman reported Freon was low and added ¾ of a pound to the unit. But when more Freon didn’t fix Bailey’s problems, she paid for a second opinion, out-of-pocket.
According to a separate receipt, that second company – Jenkins Heating & Air – found several issues not spotted by the first company. Jenkins Heating & Air found the return duct was crushed, there was a bad return box and supply box, and there were burnt wires. Those issues were indicated on the receipt, but Bailey said weeks later, Choice Home hasn’t authorized them to fix the problems.
“People of our age should not have to go through this, after you’re in your senior years. Having to pay for you to fix something when you’ve got a warranty that’s supposed to fix it,” Bailey said. “That’s why I called y’all. Because y’all can get things done.”
After verifying that Bailey’s A/C woes were, in fact, covered in her already-paid-for home warranty, FOX13’s Leah Jordan called Choice Home. As soon as she told them she was with FOX13 News, multiple managers threatened to hang up if she continued asking questions. Two emails sent to Choice Home went unanswered as well.
So, how do you avoid this happening to you?
“This is a case where reading the fine print is probably more important than other cases,” said Randy Huchinson with the Mid-South Better Business Bureau.
He said some experts recommend just setting aside a savings account to self-insure, rather than paying a home warranty company, but either works.
“It’s a form of insurance, so you make the decision. If you need to call upon it, you may be happy you had it,” Huchinson said.
Some consumers’ appliances may come with a manufacturer’s warranty, so people don’t need a home warranty for those products in addition. If appliances are older, it may be a good option.
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Finally, be sure to research a home warranty company’s legal past: The FOX13 Investigative team discovered Choice Home Warranty settled a nearly $800,000 lawsuit in 2015 over deceptive business practices. The Choice Home Warranty’s BBB page has a total of 4,766 customer complaints posted.
“If they’re doing that to me, what do they do to other people that won’t try to do something about it?” Bailey asked.
Bailey told FOX13 Choice Home Warranty dispatched another HVAC company to repair her unit Monday, but when they arrived, they thought Bailey was paying for the repairs.
The company allegedly told Bailey they did not receive any paperwork or indication that Choice Home was supposed to pay, so the unit remains broken now.
Huchinson said customers who feel a company isn’t holding up to their side of an agreement are urged to submit a complaint to the BBB.
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