MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- American Home Shield calls itself the home warranty leader. On its website, the Memphis based company talks about how it founded the industry and even brags about how many services calls it pays out.
However, a WREG investigation paints a different picture of the Memphis based company.
American Home Shield has racked up nearly 10,000 complaints with the Better Business Bureau over the last three years.
Consumers have filed 40 complaints against the company at the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs in 2018 alone.
Customers have long complained about, not only issues with the warranties, but what they describe as horrible, customer service.
If you walk upstairs in Elaine Rainey's Northeast Memphis home, you'll hear the sound of whirring fans.
"I have four in here," Rainey told WREG as she pointed out a total of 10 fans in three rooms.
Rainey says it's how her family has been keeping cool, since the air conditioner supporting the second level went out more than three months ago.
"Starting on May the 15th is when the first technician came out."
Rainey has a home warranty with American Home Shield. So she contacted the company to handle the repair.
Later, Rainey turned to NewsChannel 3 after months , she said, of getting no results.
"It`s been terrible, because we`re being told someone`s going to call us back and two or three days later we don't get a call."
Rainey says it was so bad, she starting keeping a log of communication.
After initially denying the claim, Rainey said they reached an agreement with American Home Shield.
The company agreed to pay a small portion of the costs.
However, when Rainey sat down with WREG in mid-August, the air conditioner was still broken.
"After the agreement, we called to set up an appointment. My husband called to set up an appointment, and they have not returned his calls.
Eric Lee, of Georgia, described his experience with American Home Shield "an absolute nightmare".
"It`s just been one thing after another," said Lee.
His air conditioner went out this summer too.
Lee said, "It took forever just to get anybody on the phone. When we finally got someone on the phone, they set up one of their people to come out and take care of it, but they said it was going to be at least a week out."
Lee says despite the scorching heat, they decided to book the service call.
"We said okay, we`ll go ahead and grin and bear it, and we have them come out on a Saturday. Well, they never showed up on Saturday."
After even more back and forth Lee says, he got authorization from American Home Shield to hire a company on his own to complete the repairs.
However, Lee was forced to wait again, this time, on his reimbursement.
"They gave us three different addresses to send our receipts to!"
Lee finally got his check, and after WREG starting looking into his complaint, he got a response from American Home Shield that he said had a surprisingly, different tone.
"It was hey, what can we do to help, what`s going`s on, when every other phone call with all the people we`ve talked to, it`s been nothing but why are you bothering us!"
Lee's new to American Home Shield.
He got his warranty for free as part of his home purchase this spring, but says he regrets not asking his realtor about details and multiple companies.
"I'm never going to renew it, not a chance I'm spending another penny with them if I can avoid it," said Lee.
WREG asked Rainey, "How long have you been with them?"
She replied, "10 years."
We did the math and at the rate the Raineys pay each month, that equates to more than $8600 they've paid American Home Shield over the last decade.
"Wow, I'm just blown away at that," Rainey said.
She told WREG, "I actually never thought about it like that. I was thinking more in terms of protection."
Protection, that unfortunately for Rainey and so many others, often doesn't pay off.
The Raineys finally got their air conditioner repaired. Rainey also said since NewsChannel 3 got involved, she's received a number of calls from the corporate office.
In an emailed statement a spokesperson said regarding Rainey's complaint, "We are in the process of reviewing her situation with each to better understand opportunities for improvements, and sincerely apologize for the delayed resolution to her claim."
The spokesperson reiterated that American Home Shield agreed to cover $300 toward Rainey's expenses.
As of earlier this week, while Lee had received reimbursement, he told WREG he was still waiting to schedule another repair for the air conditioner. American Home Shield said it also refunded the fee for his service call.
As it relates to complaints about customer service, the spokesperson said,
"We are taking big steps to make improvements throughout our business. For instance, wait times have decreased almost 60 percent this summer compared to last."
Avoiding the cost of home warranties
The basis of a home warranty is that the policy will kick in to repair or replace appliances when they break down. Consumer experts say they rarely pay off, so they encourage consumers to find other ways to get coverage without the costs!
- Put money in a savings account dedicated to major repairs
- Get an extended warranty through your credit card company
- Take advantage of the manufacturer's warranty
- Don't forget about the "implied" warranty on most products