Homeowners say they pay for home warranties, receive no protections from warranty companies

TULSA, Okla. — Homeowners want peace of mind and protection if things go wrong at their homes. But many customers said their home warranties brought them nothing but more headaches.

Eric Ebell has no complaints about his new air conditioner after he spent most of the summer sweltering.

“We were without air condition for four weeks and for we had to stay in a hotel for 10 nights,” Ebell said.

He expected that his home warranty would pay to fix the AC when it went out. A one-year warranty came with the purchase of his home, and each year, he paid to renew the warranty.

Then, he needed the home warranty.

“I understand fine print,” he said. “What I didn’t understand was, I was not in control of the timeline for getting my utilities repaired,” Ebell said.

What followed was weeks of headaches.

“Everyday I would call the warranty company to get an update on the process,” Ebell said.

From no-show technicians to long waits for approval, the process kept going and going. In the heat, the house kept rising in temperature.

“The temperature in our house is approaching 90 degrees, because it’s 90 degrees outside, and I can’t live that way,” he recalled.

Ebell is not alone in his frustration.

There is an entire Facebook group is full of thousands of people with home warranty horror stories.

The Better Business Bureau indicated to FOX23 that the biggest home warranty companies rack up thousands of complaints every year.

Lori Silverman runs the Team Clark Consumer Action Center, and she said home warranty complaints are among their most frequent calls year after year.

She explained, “People buy home warranties thinking it is going to buy them peace of mind, and many times it does the opposite.”

After weeks of waiting, and racking up hotel bills on his own dime, Ebell finally gave up on his home warranty.

“After four weeks, I’m fed up waiting on them. I’m like, ‘I’ll just replace the system myself,’” Ebell said.

The warranty’s cash option will pay Eball some money, but a fraction of the cost to replace his AC unit.

That’s why the Consumer Action Center recommends setting aside the cash each month instead of paying a monthly premium to a home warranty company.

“We really encourage people instead of spending the $500 or $600 a year for the warranty to put that in a fund for you home,” Silverman said.

Over the years, Ebell estimates he’s paid his home warranty company more than $3,000. But in the end, he still footed most of the bill for his new AC system.

“It didn’t feel right, but I knew if I was going to make it right, I had to repair it myself,” Ebell said.