BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — With sweltering weather and faltering air conditioners, home warranties are front and center for some families.
Warranties can save money, but they can be costly too if you don't understand the fine print.
Just ask Sonya Loyd of Broken Arrow. As the summer heated up outside, so did her family's home, inside. Her old air conditioning unit just couldn't keep up. Luckily, Loyd thought, they had a home warranty to take care of it.
But she said the experience was "very disappointing, upsetting and frustrating."
The AC problems actually started last summer, Loyd said. Since then, the warranty company sent out a technician time after time, making what Loyd calls "band-aid fixes" that don't last.
"I've had them out several times, paid several copays, to get them out here and get them looking at it."
Those copays, or service charges, are $125 each. And since Sonya's had the warranty for five years, paying $50 a month, she's out quite a bit of cash.
"The money I've paid them could have been sitting in an account gaining interest and could have been paid more than half of a new unit."
And that's what some financial experts suggest folks do-- put the money you'd spend on a warranty in a separate account for home repairs and appliance replacements.
That's what Loyd's going to do from now on. And she said she's not alone, after scouring social media, searching for home warranty complaints.
"I've ended up with story after story of other people who've had this issue. I realized this was something more than just my problem."
Still, home warranties help in some cases. Loyd said her warranty company did replace a refrigerator and repaired their hot water heater, although she said there were delays then, too, just like when dealing with her air conditioner.
"You get these home warranties to have the reassurance that you're not put in a situation where you have to shell out a lot of money, which could be most of your current savings to replace something like this."
As for Loyd's AC, the warranty company finally paid nearly $400 for a contractor of her choosing, who finally got the system working. Now though, she's telling everyone to be sure to weigh the pros and cons before shelling out hard-earned cash on a home warranty.
Here are tips to consider before signing any type of warranty contract.
- Always get everything in writing, don't settle for a verbal agreement.
- Study the costs.
- As Sonya now suggests, are you better off putting money aside in a separate repair account, instead of buying the warranty.
- How long does the contract last?
- Be clear on what is specifically covered, and just as importantly, what is not.
- What's involved in the claim process?
- How long could you be expected to wait for a service call?
- Consider the reputation of the company and check it out at sites like the Better Business Bureau.
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