Troubleshooter: Coming home to a cold house

ABC11 Eyewitness News I-Team Troubleshooter Diane Wilson

February 12, 2010 3:50:32 PM PST
A Triangle homeowner says she's had no heat for a month, so she turned to ABC11 Eyewitness News Troubleshooter Diane Wilson.Kristie Applegren has been dealing with the cold temperatures and says she's wondering how much more she's going to have to endure.

"It's been a long month," she said.

Her thermostat reads 43 degrees inside her home and Applegren says that's really not that bad.

"It's been below freezing in the house," she said. "I can see my breath in the morning when I wake up." She shares the house with her brother and they try to mainly stay in the room that has the fireplace. They both sleep on the couches in front of the fireplace, underneath sleeping bags, trying to stay warm.

Applegren has a home warranty through American Home Shield and says she called them as soon as her heater stopped working.

"Got a hold of someone and they said they were going to send someone out the next day which they did," Applegren said.

But the fix didn't happen that fast.

"They needed some parts and we got those parts and it wasn't fixed and then they said it was going to be two weeks, because they actually had to have the part made because my heater was old," Applegren said. "They said I understand that is too long to go without heat, we'll make this an urgent request we'll get this taken care of and call you back tomorrow."

But Applegren says she didn't hear anything and now it's been a month with no heat.

American Home Shield did tell Applegren they would reimburse her up to $125 for space heaters, but she says space heater's aren't cutting it and just wants her heater fixed.

"They said you're just going to have to wait on the part because it's repairable well I said repairable for a heater when you have to wait for month in the dead of winter does not seem very repairable," Applegren said. "I think I need a warm house that's why I got a home warranty."

An American Home Shield rep told ABC11 that they're committed to providing a positive customer experience.

"The Applegren's recent experience was not representative of the normal AHS customer experience and we sincerely regret the delays in service they have experienced," a representative with the company said. "Although the homeowners initially considered upgrading the unit, they ultimately decided to simply repair it and the contractor immediately placed the order for the replacement part."

The rep went on to say due to the age and model of Applegren's system, the part was not available locally. They said the contractor placed an order with the manufacturer on February 4 as soon as authorization for repairs was received from Applegren.

"The order was placed for expedited delivery; however, the part is being shipped from the Northeast and extreme weather conditions have delayed its arrival," the rep said. "Although the AHS service agreement clearly states that the company is not responsible for parts delays, we are often able to leverage our relationships with suppliers and manufacturers to expedite part delivery for backordered or rare parts when they may not be available to contractors locally. Unfortunately, for reasons beyond our control, this part has not yet arrived. We have been advised that it is scheduled to arrive over the weekend, and our contractor will work to complete the repairs on Monday, once it is in-hand. We apologize for the delays that our customer has experienced and the discomfort and inconvenience that this situation has caused."

AHS has offered to compensate the Appelgren's for hotel accommodations beginning Friday, Feb. 12 until the repairs are complete, in addition to the $125 for space heaters and $100 for firewood to heat their home. The company is also reimbursing them the non-covered disposal expenses associated with the repair.

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