July 23, 2012 Update:
BBB|Northwest Florida has been alerted that HomeServe USA's BBB rating with BBB|Connecticut is now an A, on a scale of A+ to F. BBB|Connecticut reports "BBB has received numerous complaints, from consumers across the country, concerning this business's direct mail solicitations, specifically that the solicitations' layout may cause consumers to perceive the letters as coming from the consumers' utility companies and not an independent business selling home warranty or insurance coverage.
BBB also received customer complaints concerning coverage issues, specifically that when a problem occured, it was not covered by the policy."Read the full BBB Business Review on HomeServe USA
BBBs across the country report that consumers are calling with questions about mailings they’ve received from HomeServe USA
. And HomeServe USA recently contacted your BBB|Northwest Florida to announce they plan to start mailing solicitations
in northwest Florida again. Your BBB urges consumers to do their homework when approached with any solicitation, no matter the source.
The HomeServe USA mailings
inform recipients that they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their exterior water lines, leaving them liable for repairs which could potentially cost thousands of dollars. It provides a toll-free number and a deadline to enroll in their Water Service Line Coverage. Some consumers in other parts of the country have stated the mailings appear to be from a local government agency or utility.
Your BBB advices consumers to review these notices carefully, particularly the portion that says HomeServe USA is an independent company separate from your local utility or community. Additionally, while HomeServe USA is correct in that homeowners are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their water lines’ “utility service connection to your home,” the warranty coverage HomeServe USA offers is optional.
“Consumers shouldn’t feel pressured to make a decision about any warranty, service plan or insurance policy,” said Norman Wright, president and CEO of BBB|Northwest Florida. “Take time to do your homework, research the company making the offer, make sure you understand what is and is not covered, and make sure you’re not paying for duplicate coverage.”
Contact your water utility to see what your responsibility is as a homeowner. You should also review your homeowner’s insurance policy to see if coverage is already provided. If coverage is included in your homeowner’s policy, ask how HomeServe USA’s coverage would work with your current policy.
HomeServe USA is headquartered in Stamford, CT. BBB|Connecticut rated the company a D, on an A+ to F scale, and noted that HomeServe USA has entered into consent agreements with the states of Kentucky, Ohio and Massachusetts. Both Kentucky and Ohio alleged that the mailing solicitations “generated confusion” and were “deceptive” in their appearance. According to the BBB Business Review, the settlements should not be considered as an admission of guilt or a legal violation.
The BBB recommends the following tips to consumers who receive a call or letter from Home Serve USA or similar companies:
- Read the service contract very carefully and make sure you have a clear understanding of it, especially the exclusions, before agreeing to buy coverage. Don’t purchase coverage over the phone without seeing a contract with all verbal promises in writing.
- Make sure you’re familiar with the company’s cancellation policy and the Federal Trade Commission’s Cooling Off Rule.
- Check the company’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org to see if there are any unanswered, unresolved or unusual pattern of complaints that other consumers have noticed.
For additional information and advice you can trust, start with bbb.org.