the IT city, the I.T. Baby


The nine month American Home Shield $2000+ fridge repair

This is not the fridge American Home Shield worked on
Not the fridge, but I’m not inclined to go home to take a picture of the right one at the moment

In 2009 I purchased a refrigerator for about $400 from HH Gregg. In Feb of 2013 it developed a leak in the evaporator coil. What follows is mostly how American Home Shield and their subcontractors messed up at every possible point.

I spent my last thirty minute phone call to them (hopefully,) last week cancelling the remaining contracts with them, and they messed that up too.

I’m going to add a bit here – one of my many jobs is I’m a landlord, and this was at a tenant’s house which I had to drag my baby to sit with me while hours of repairs were done.

In Feb 2013 the tenant’s fridge stopped working. I called American Home Shield and they dispatched a company called Greenway Home Services. This is the only company that I dealt with for the next nine months that did anything right, and tried to do right.

They replaced the evaporator coil for about $400 charged to AHS, and the unit chugged along for another month and a half and blew out something else at the bottom of the fridge. Evidently the compressor was befarged. My guess is that it was the reason that the evaporator coil blew a hole in it, but during their testing everything read normal. Who knows.

Second service charge, American Home Shield won’t dispatch the initial company as they’re on hold. I’m uncertain what a company being on hold was, but I should have waited for them to get off hold. AHS dispatches a company that shows up four days later and can’t work on that brand of fridge. Errr ok, perhaps they should have mentioned they were not allowed to work on those before coming out, or asked what it was.

American Home Shield gets the call from that company and calls me and tells me they’ve dispatched A&E Factory Services. This is Sears’s in-house company as far as I can tell. A&E is based about 19 blocks from the house, I think great… I never hear anything from anyone.

I call back to American Home Shield and ask when I’m supposed to hear something and I’m told that although the American Home Shield rep made the connection to Sears/A&E I was supposed to call American Home Shield, the people who had called me, and tell them to call A&E to set a time.

I believe at this point it was 10 days later they showed.

The A&E tech told American Home Shield that it was not worth repairing. The American Home Shield agent refused to listen to the tech, supposedly there was an argument between them, and he then ordered $800 of parts for the $400 fridge.

The parts of course had to be shipped to the tenant’s house when nobody was home (they were out of the country,) so I arrived to find eight boxes sitting next to the door in a downpour ten days later. I’ll stress that most of the boxes were full on in the rain.

Called to schedule a tech, get a time 15 days out if I’m remembering this correctly, it’s getting kind of comedic, they don’t show after a day of me waiting around. at this point they’ve called me via an automated system multiple times making sure I’m going to be there. They reschedule 10 more days out. I call American Home Shield and argue that this is not acceptable, the rep I speak with agrees and dispatches Greenway Home Services again (not their issue, but they can fix it).

I talk with Greenway that night on the phone and explain in detail what’s going on. The person I’m talking to is struggling to keep up with where I’m at but assures me they can handle anything. They show up the next day ready to fix this thing and are told by the American Home Shield rep they’re on with that they’re not allowed to touch it since Sears/A&E was mid-working on it. The Greenway rep was out arguing with someone for about an hour before finally being flagged off by the American Home Shield rep.

AHS has just blown a tech dispatch fee and two hours of tech time. Greenway, not at fault, leaves.

The days go by, I attempt to get American Home Shield to set this as a priority, but am told that even though we’re at month three at this point that it’s not anything except put me on the list.

The tech shows up and spends the next five hours fixing the thing and on the phone because his vacuum is busted or because the fridge is being weird or that the parts had the incorrect instructions. Finally all assembled he leaves with the thing blowing cold air. I’m given an invoice of what I have to pay if American Home Shield doesn’t pay it, and it’s over $1200.

Water starts forming in the fridge three weeks later and I called back to American Home Shield. They set a recall dispatch for A&E, which show a week or so later. Once again, details may be blurry here. I didn’t set out thinking that there was going to be a post, let along a series started because of this incident.

The tech, same tech as started this tells me it’s odd that they’re not requiring me to pay a co-pay on this due to it being an entirely separate issue. I ask how it’s separate since the issue is that it’s not cooling properly, and he tells me that there’s warm air getting in somehow. This might be because in the repair they drilled several holes in the body of the fridge to run piping and it looks like they sealed it with Silly Putty.

An hour or so dealing with yet another American Home Shield rep he manages to convince them that the cost is going to be in the $500 range to fix the $400 fridge and they finally agree it’s not worth it.

I’m informed they will contact me about replacing the fridge. They don’t.

I contact them four days later, am given another number for replacements, and contact them. They require exact dimensions, model number, etc. So that 20 minutes was wasted calling them on my break at work.

I get the info, call them up, and am told that I can upgrade if I want… I don’t, I just want a working fridge for my tenants who have been using a spare fridge I loaned them. They tell me another company will be delivering it, but I’m responsible for moving my fridge out and disposing of it. They’re so helpful.

The delivery people just show up. I get a call while I’m at work, no advanced notice. I had no idea they were coming that day. Great.

But now I’ve got a new fridge which is supposedly an $800 one… so this is done, right? Nope.

American Home Shield didn’t code the thing as a recall, they coded it as a dispatch, which costs $75. Another phone call and I’m assured that mess is fixed. That phone call took 28 minutes to get through and get someone to read through the mass of notes.

Month goes by, guess what I get in the mail… yup, got the same bill as the American Home Shield rep once again only noted it, never did anything about it, and once again I’m assured that it’s been taken care of. It wasn’t.

During this time I had to take roughly two and a half days off of work, drive to meet the techs who already had given up on the thing, from the time of the second repair dispatch to working fridge was nearly four months, I stopped counting at 15 phone calls to American Home Shield and two and a half hours wasted… I believe I’m in the neighborhood of 20 calls, but the reps aren’t allowed to send me a call report.

AE Factory Repair invoiceDuring the nine months that American Home Shield and A&E worked on this they collected about $65 from me monthly for absurdly slow and poor service. So $585 in monthly rates + $75×2 for dispatch fees from me, $735.

At the time of conclusion they had spent $400+ for a condenser coil (worked for a while,) $1100 for repairs paid to A&E (worked for three weeks,) probably $120 for dispatching the good company and yanking them, and finally nearly $900 for a replacement fridge. They left the old fridge for me to deal with, which although was broken was still functioning minus the reported warm air getting in through the holes they’d not sealed.

It was completely dead a week later with something more than warm air coming in breaking it. Yup, it was leaking freon / probably could have been repaired had it been diagnosed correctly.

I wish I could say this was a completely aberrant event in my dealings with home warranty companies, but it’s not. This was par for the course.

If I’d just saved up the monthly service fee I was paying AHS, I would have had more than enough for a nice fridge.

Paul King

Paul King lives in Nashville Tennessee with his wife, two daughters and cats. He writes for Pocketables, theITBaby, and is an IT consultant along with doing tech support for a film production company.