Since 2018, more than 1,200 consumers have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office between two related home warranty firms. One is Amazon Home Warranty, a Wyoming company based in New Jersey that uses a Columbus customer-service address. The other is Amazon Warranty Administrators, which lists a Dublin address but is not, as required by state law, registered with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.
“In this particular case, the office address that they listed here in Ohio wasn’t even a real place of business it was one of those rental co-op type places. There were no employees, there no IT, no nothing it was literally a front,” Yost said in a statement about the suit.
The lawsuit states that Amazon Home Warranty advertised service contracts on a variety of websites and social media channels for home buyers and sellers, with Amazon Warranty Administrators identified as the contract’s administrator.
According to Amazon Home Warranty, their contracts would cover the price of significant system and appliance repairs and replacements. However, they failed to deliver the benefits that they promoted to customers.
Following the steps described in the service contract, customers would contact the defendants to request the dispatch of a technician to diagnose any problems with “covered” systems or appliances. In many instances, the defendants would delay sending a technician by days or even weeks, leading some customers to invest time and effort in finding a technician on their own. Then, if customers choose to proceed with a repair through a technician they identified, they would have to pay upfront and wait for Amazon Warranty Administrators to approve or refund them before finding out that the company rejected their claims.
Depending on the plan, an Amazon Home Warranty contract may cost between $400 and $650 each year, with an average per-call service charge of $70.
“You want to make sure that you know what you’re buying. In this case, even though they call it a warranty, it’s not a warranty it’s a service contract which is basically just an agreement that you pay us a lot of money and then if you have a problem we will hire somebody to come and fix it. That might be a good deal or it might not but you’ve got to know what you are getting into,” Yost said.
The Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act prohibits this kind of false representation.
“So if you lie about what you’re doing or you promise you’re going to do something but you don’t do it, if it’s one of the covered things under the Consumer Sales Practices Act we can try to resolve it and if they don’t want to try to make it right and do the right thing we can go to court to get an order ask for damages as well as a court order to make them stop cheating,” Yost said.
According to Yost, the defendants must adjust their business procedures to be compliant with Ohio law, pay civil penalties, and cover court costs in addition to being forced to compensate customers.
“If you promise you’re going to do something and you don’t, that’s a lie. We teach our children to be honest and work hard – a basic lesson this company should learn,” Yost said.
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