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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > April 2023 > ‘Consumer Protection Up Close’

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‘Consumer Protection Up Close’

This occasional column examines and explains cases filed by the Consumer Protection Section of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued a “home warranty” company and its administrator for misrepresentation and unconscionable business practices.
“If you promise you’re going to do something and you don’t, that’s a lie,” Yost said in a press release regarding the filing. “We teach our children to be honest and work hard – a basic lesson this company should learn.”  
Since 2018, more than 1,200 consumers combined have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office about Amazon Home Warranty, a Wyoming company based in New Jersey that uses a Columbus customer-service address, and 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.
Neither company is related to, the e-commerce giant.
Yost’s lawsuit, filed earlier this year in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, says the two Ohio addresses are rental spaces with no employees at either location.
Amazon Home Warranty claimed that its contracts covered the cost of repairs and replacements of major systems (such as an air conditioner) and appliances but did not provide consumers the advertised benefits.
When a “covered” appliance or system broke down, consumers – following the procedures outlined in the service contract– would contact the defendants to send a technician to diagnose the problem. Oftentimes, defendants would take days or even weeks to send a technician, prompting some consumers to expend time and energy to find a technician on their own. Consumers who went ahead with a repair through a technician they found would then be required to pay up front and wait for approval or reimbursement from Amazon Warranty Administrators, only to learn that their claims were denied.
Attorney General Yost has asked the court to require the defendants to change their business practices to comply with Ohio law, reimburse consumers and pay civil penalties and court costs.
Consumers can take the following precautions when considering a service similar to the one provided by Amazon Home Warranty:
  • Know what you are actually buying and whether it is a home warranty or a service contract. A warranty is passed from a seller to a buyer without additional cost when a house is new and being sold to the first occupant. The home warranty typically covers everything between the foundation and the roof, but not items that are not permanently installed, such as dishwashers, refrigerators or ovens. In contrast, a service contract provides additional protections for an additional cost beyond the original purchase price of the item. A service contract can vary broadly in coverage terms.
  • Find out how long the warranty or service contract lasts by determining when coverage begins and ends. Also, look for any conditions that would void or cancel coverage.
  • Do your research and read online consumer reviews along with any complaints from the Better Business Bureau and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Determine who will perform services under the warranty or service contract. If it is a different company, be sure to find out that other company’s reputation and track record. Do searches using the company’s name along with terms such as “complaint,” “reviews” and “scam.”
  • Read the contract thoroughly. Find out the company’s responsibilities under the warranty. Determine any and all limitations, such as any overall maximum payout during the contract period as well as any payout limits for certain covered items.
  • Figure out exactly what is covered under the warranty or service contract, especially if you are purchasing it to cover certain items. Check for exclusions in coverage.
  • Be sure to get all warranties in writing. If a salesperson makes verbal promises about a warranty or service contact, make sure to get those promises put in a written contract; otherwise they are not guaranteed.
If you believe you have been victimized by Amazon Home Warranty or Amazon Warranty Administrators – or by another unfair or deceptive business practice – contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.