The Better Business Bureau serving Central East Texas received reports from “significant numbers of consumers” about mailings they have received from HomeServe USA.
The mailings inform recipients they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their exterior water lines, leaving them liable for repairs that could potentially cost thousands of dollars, BBB President and Chief Executive Officer Mechele Agbayani Mills reported Friday. It provides an 800 number and a deadline to enroll in their water Service Line Coverage, and some consumers claim the mailings appear to be from a local government agency or utility company.
BBB advises consumers to review these notices carefully, particularly the portion that states HomeServe USA is an independent company separate from the local utility or community. BBB received similar calls related to HomeServe USA last year.
Ms. Mills said that while the company is correct in saying homeowners are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their waterlines’ “utility service connection to your home,” the warranty coverage they offer is optional.
“Similar to any warranty, service plan or insurance policy, it is up to the consumer to determine whether it meets their needs and is worth purchasing,” she said. “They should also have a good understanding about what is covered under the policy offered, as well as what is not covered.”
Although HomeServe USA is based in Stamford, Conn., the company claims a post office box in Austin. HomeServe USA has entered into consent agreements with the states of Kentucky, Ohio and Massachusetts. Both Kentucky and Ohio alleged the mailing solicitations “generated confusion” and were “deceptive” in appearance, Ms. Mills reported. The settlements should not be considered as an admission of guilt or a legal violation, she added.
BBB recommends these tips for consumers who receive a letter from HomeServe USA or similar companies:
Read the service contract carefully and make sure you have a clear understanding of it before agreeing to buy coverage.
Do not purchase coverage over the phone without seeing a contract with all details set in writing.
Make sure you’re familiar with the company’s cancellation policy in case you change your mind after signing up.
Check the company’s BBB Business Review at bbb.org.