MARYLAND -- UPDATED MARCH 28, 2008 (see new section below)
Total Protect is an absolute rip off. I will be reporting them to the BBB and to County, State and Federal officials as well as asking my Maryland Congressional offices to look in to what is clearly a "Total" unmitigated consumer fraud. I will be happy to join a class action lawsuit against them at any time. By the way, when they answer the phone they do not say Total Protect, they say HMS Real Estate Support Solutions so I assume HMS is hiding behind the name Total Protect to shield it from these numerous abysmal consumer complaints. The HMS website says it sells new home warranties through real estate offices but I could find no mention of Total Protect Home Warranties whatever on their website and the Total Protect website does not mention HMS at all. I will ask regulators to look into that as well.
My heat pump broke down in June 2007, during an extreme heat spell, and Total Protect could not have cared less. After 11 telephone calls over six months with not a single one returned, and after being outright lied to by several of their always-different yet always-incompetent representatives, I still have not been offered anything even resembling a fair settlement. I just spoke to the "floor supervisor" who with the most obnoxious passive/aggressive "I am sorry you are not satisfied" routine, refused to let me speak to the head of the customer complaint unit. He ignored every request I made for reasonable followup on my previous 10 phone calls, gleefully repeating his mantra that they had made their offer (in other words take it or leave it, we refuse to negotiate at all), and then instead of attempting to help in any way insisted on giving me the address for the "disputes department" where I have to send in a lengthy written request. I can just imagine how much "Total" attention that will get! I asked for a telephone number for the disputes department and was told I could not have it.
My sad story follows: after sending several totally incompetent people out to look at my 15 year old heat pump (one of Total Protect's "expert technicians" stole the company truck and disappeared -- I couldn't make this up if I wanted too), and after several ridiculous arguments about whether the unit was repairable, Total Protect agreed to replace the unit, but only with a lower than builder grade model of their choice costing $2,100 (and labor was $700 of that price) when the exactly comparable Trane heat pump model cost $7,440. Total Protect then helpfully pointed out that I would be responsible for a number of "additional fees" that would be charged by their "expert" installer, such as extensive rewiring that allegedly would be required. When I on my own had a reputable local dealer (with high grades from Consumer CheckBook), put in a Trane heat pump (since my other unit was a Trane model), I was informed that no rewiring was required. It appears that Total Protect was simply trying to get as much of their $2,100 back as possible. Even after the installation was completed and when the company that did my installation had no need to comment at all they noted that Total Protect's replacement "offer" was totally ridiculous and in no way a good faith attempt to do a comparable replacement.
Don't ever have anything to do with Total Protect. It warrants nothing but what it wishes to warrant, and It protects nothing but its own pocketbook, and its service is the absolute worst I have ever run into anywhere. I will check with the Maryland Attorney General's Office to determine whether it is possible to bring criminal fraud charges against Total Protect.
I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Metro Washington D.C. The BBB wrote a letter to Total Protect dated January 29, 2008 on my behalf. In a letter dated February 19, 2008 BBB noted that they had contacted the firm and asked whether I was satisfied with Total Protect's response (as I noted in my earlier posting, Total Protect appears to be hiding behind a number of other entities as HMS of the Mid Atlantic States is the company that is rated by BBB in the Washington, D.C. area. Additionally, the claims correspondent who replied to the BBB noted that "HomeSure Services, Inc. has completed its investigation.") So what is the real company,Total Protect, HMS of the Mid-Atlantic States or HomeSure Services?
In any event, I could not believe Total Protect's response. Relevant portions follow:
"The Company approved the replacement of Mr. ___ evaporator coil and air handler. The options offered were a 3.5 ton 13 SEER air handler Payne model PF1MNC04000, a 20kw heater model KFCEH3201F20 and the evaporator coil model B5248HX4QA.
"It was also explained to Mr. ___ that there were non-covered charges of $812.00 that were associated with the replacement of his evaporator coil and air handler. These charges were to be paid directly to the service provider. . . These charges include: duct modification, disposal of the old air handler, air handler electrical upgrades and electrical upgrades which are not eligible for coverage under the Home Service Agreement.
"A second option offered was a claims credit of up to $2,107.65, towards the replacement of a new air handler and evaporator coil. This amount represents the cost the Company would incur had they effected the replacement of the air handler and evaporator coil.
"Regarding Mr. ___ statement that the Company did not offer him a comparable unit, please be advised that this statement is unwarranted, per the terms and conditions of the Homer Service Agreement, the replacement item offered will be a base model that meets all applicable federally mandated minimal manufacturers' standards, performs the same primary function, and has a capacity comparable with the covered item, when available with domestically assembled units. . .
"Mr ___ also requested reimbursement of $7,440.00 for the replacement of his heat pump system; the Company respectfully denies his request. The Company has agreed to reimburse Mr. ___ a claims credit of up to $2,107.65, this amount represents the cost the Company would have incurred had they effected the replacement of the air handler and evaporator coil.
"Also, should Mr. ___ require assistance or wish to speak with a Total Protect customer service representative, he can contact our Customer Service Department at 1-800-474-4047. . ." Signed Corinne Georges, Claim Correspondent.
In other words folks, Total Protect will not provide a nickel more than it offered from the outset, $2,107.65 which apparently covers a below-builder grade model that my own heating/AC company said no reputable company would recommend. And, of course, if you subtract the $812.00 in totally bogus charges, Total Protect would have been out $1,295.65 for an entire heat pump system, including installation costs. Does that sound like a fair deal to you? Does that match Total Protect's rhetoric (still on its website) that "Total Protect Home Warranty protects you and your family from costly repairs and replacement of your vital home systems and appliances." Adding insult to injury they also advertise a "$15,000 total annual aggregate cap on claims." And a "Special Limited Time Offer: Increase my annual aggregate claims cap from $15,000 to $50,000 worth of repairs and replacements for all of your covered appliances and systems for just $2.00 more." Those claims alone should justify a class action suit for consumer fraud.
Of course, I replied on March 13, 2008, in a five-page single-space letter and told BBB that the Total Protect response was totally unsatisfactory and that "Total Protect simply took the same arrogant, condescending and unjustified position it has taken for the beginning -- accept our one and only offer because that is all you are going to get from us."
I ended the letter to BBB with, "If you are indeed in the business of warning consumers about companies that do not stand by their commitments, that defraud and deceive, that do everything in their power to mislead and lie to cover up their own incompetence and fraudulent activities, then I suggest you have found a prime candidate to add to your list. And, yes I would ask that you go back once more and see if you can move them off their intractable position, but I have to say after all this I don't think even the Better Business Bureau will be able to do that."
It appears as if I was absolutely correct. Last Thursday, March 27, 2008, my wife received a call from Total Protect saying they were desperately attempting to get in touch with me and they left a number and contact to telephone. When I called that number a very pleasant lady said she was responding to the BBB complaint and she wanted to know if I would be willing to accept the $2,107.65 offer. I asked if she were joking. I asked why I would now accept an offer that I found inadequate, fraudulent and totally unfair. She asked if I could hold for a supervisor. I said yes. After waiting for about 15 minutes, she came back on the line and said she was sorry but the supervisor unexpectedly had been called to a meeting on here way to speak to me. I asked what I was supposed to do. She said the supervisor suggested that I call customer service. I said do you mean you are suggesting I contact the same customer service department that I have spoken to over a dozen times, where I never had the same representative twice, where I had to explain the situation from the beginning each and every time, where their incompetence was only exceeded by their arrogance, and where never once, not once, did they have the courtesy to return one of my calls -- and she responded yes.
I asked if this was just a call to check the box so they could say to the BBB that they had honestly and in good faith attempted to resolve the dispute. She did not respond. I told her I now intended to escalate the issue by bringing in local State and Federal insurance regulators and consumer fraud authorities. I also told her it was my fondest wish to join a class action law suit that might close this company down. When it was clear that she couldn't have cared less, I said goodbye.
I can't wait to hear back from the BBB so I can report to them in detail Total Protect's good faith effort to resolve the dispute. By the way, the BBB rates HMS of the Mid-Atlantic States in the following fashion, "Based on BBB files, this company has an unsatisfactory record with the Bureau due to unanswered complaint(s). They also report 105 complaints against this company over the last 36 months and 31 complaints processed over the last 12 months. There also apparently is a BBB listing in Florida under the HomeSure name.
Finally, BBB says this business operates under the following names: Cross Country Home Services; Haa of Virginia; HMS Home Warranty; HMS of the Mid-Atlantic States; Home Warranty Service; HomeSure of America, Inc., HomeSure of Virginia, Inc. and HomeSure Services, Inc. The address is HMS National, 1625 NW 136th Ave. Bldg. E-200, Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, FL 33323
I will update this posting as I do not intend to let this company get away with this.