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Trade Group Seeking To Change Somewhat Tarnished Image of Home Warranty Providers

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It feels like every week CBS 2 hears from a viewer incensed over a home warranty issue. Online reviews for policy providers are chock full of complaints. The Morning Insiders found one organization working to give home warranties a better name.

They say with home ownership comes some challenges. Not long after moving into her first home, Glenda Maldonado was left high and dry; well sort of dry, because her dryer wasn't heating up.

"One load that would take 30 minutes to dry turned into two hours due to the cold air," she said. "I unplugged it. I messed; not messed, I flipped the gas valve on and off."

When that didn't work, she filed a claim through her home warranty policy.

"I was doing laundry again, and I was like, 'These people haven't called me. Like it dawned on me again, and so I called them back," she said.

And called and called and called some more; at least 20 times.

"I feel, in hindsight, very sorry for my husband," she said.

It's no joke when you see Maldonado is one of almost 2,000 complaining online about the Illinois-based Home Warranty of America.

CBS 2 hasn't forgotten the interview with Jenny D'Agostino, a fed-up customer using a different home warranty company. The Select Home Warranty technician who was supposed to come out and fix her broken dryer and freezer went missing in action, and she was asked to pay again to get another technician.

From allegations of bad service to allegations of fraud, we also spotted three alerts of legal action on Total Home Protection's page on the Better Business Bureau website.

The Arizona attorney general is suing another home warranty business for using "contract exclusions, payment caps, and bad-faith refusals to avoid paying for repairs."

The National Home Service Contract Association hopes to change the sometimes negative perception of its industry.

In addition to home maintenance tips, the NHSCA also recently established an accreditation program. What prompted that?

It's a "growing industry" that can be "susceptible to fraud," executive director Art Chartrand told CBS 2 off camera. Vetting businesses helps "get ahead of the curve."

Interested companies will need to undergo a "review of call centers," "confirm proper registration" in each state, and follow a "code of ethics."

Maldonado's provider, Home Warranty of America, is an NHSCA member, but not accredited yet.

Her dryer was eventually fixed. She plans to research other policies.

"It does save you money," she said.

We asked the NHSCA in our story about the biggest misconception of home warranties. The answer? That policies function like insurance and are not for emergencies. Instead, they're meant for normal wear and tear.

Meantime, Home Warranty of America said the biggest issue in Maldonado's case was the availability of contractors due to peak season and the pandemic.

"At HWA, we take all our customers' needs seriously and we are happy that the situation with Ms. Maldonado was resolved as timely as possible. The satisfaction of all our customers is our priority and we look forward to helping our customers get back to their daily routine," the company stated.

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