Marion couple says home warranty company left them in the heat

MARION, Iowa (KCRG) -- Home warranties can bring peace of mind and much-needed assistance to new home buyers but Ken and Kathy Engelbart of Marion say their experience has been a nightmare.

Central air system outside the home of Ken and Kathy Engelbart on September 19, 2019.

It was a hot afternoon when the I-9 investigative team stopped by the Engelbart's home. Their fans were on full blast.

"Yea, I'm sweating," said Ken. "You should have been here the other day when it was like 88 degrees out and with the fans running it was still about 96 in here."

The couple says they had been forced to live in the heat ever since their air conditioning unit went out a month ago. It was a repair Ken thought would be taken care of quickly thanks to the home warranty they procured through American Home Shield after buying their new residence in early August.

"I assumed everything was going to work just fine," said Ken.

Ken says the company sent out a contractor twice but failed to fix the problem. Ken reports he passed that information along to American Home Shield representatives in 24 different phone calls but the last time he said he heard from anyone with the business was three days before I9 sat down with him.

"I told her (the representative), 'well if I don't hear back I'm going to call the TV station,'" said Ken. "She called me right back and she says they're going to be taking care of this and 'you're going to be hearing from someone tomorrow morning.'"

Bobby Hansen with the Better Business Bureau has heard similar stories involving home warranty companies before. Hansen recommends consumers read the reviews on their website about any home warranty company before they buy a policy.

"Check out these companies," said Hansen. "There is a lot of them out there, lot of good ones and a few bad ones."

American Home Shield is registered with the Better Business Bureau and they have been given a "B" rating. Nevertheless, Better Business Bureau records also show in the last three years they have had more than 10,000 complaints made against them. Around 4,000 of those complaints were made in the last 12 months alone.

I9 reached out to American Home Shield looking for an explanation concerning the Engelbart's situation. Shortly thereafter, during our interview with Ken, his phone rang. The person on the other end was with American Home Shield and they promised the turmoil he and his wife have been going through was finally over.

Officials with American Home Shield declined I9's request for an interview but in a statement said the have apologized to the Engelbarts for what happened and are investigating the situation. They also said they have offered to put the Engelbarts up in a hotel while they wait for their air conditioning situation to be addressed.

The full statement from American Home Shield:

"Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. We have reached out to Mr. Engelbart to apologize for his experience and express our commitment to ensuring that his HVAC repairs are completed right away. We will be thoroughly investigating his situation and the breakdowns that led to the delay in resolution.

Our most immediate priority is to ensure that Mr. Engelbart’s HVAC unit is repaired right away. While he declined our offer to have a contractor on-site this afternoon, we will be working with him to have a contractor at his house at a more convenient time tomorrow. In the meantime, we have offered to provide overnight hotel accommodations and to waive and/or reimburse him for the cost of any associated service fees.

We truly regret that the service we provided did not meet Mr. Engelbart’s expectations or our own. We work to build lasting relationships with our customers, and his situation is not indicative of the typical customer experience.

In the past three years, we have completed more than 15 million service requests nationwide, and, in the past five years, we have paid more than $2 billion in claims. While the overwhelming majority of all our service requests are completed smoothly and without incident, regrettably, this is not always the case. When issues do arise, we address and, to the extent possible, resolve the situation. Most importantly, we evaluate key learnings to better understand where the breakdown occurred so that we can address the cause and reduce the likelihood of a recurrence."