A home warranty should give you peace of mind. If something breaks, you’re covered, right? But what if the problem is the contractor, and you didn’t have a say in selecting them.
Our Consumer Investigative Reporter Leslie Gaydos teamed up with NBC10 Investigator Ryan Kath, asking who’s actually being sent to your home.
Chazmine Carroll is still trying to get her money back, after she says a service technician left her in the lurch last December. The Mattapan single mom paid the contractor $1,200 dollars to fix her heating system and broken hot water heater.
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“He took the check, said he fixed the heating system, and said he would be back the next day, and he never showed back up,” explained Chazmine. “And the heating system stopped working again the next day, and I called him. We kept calling, and he never showed up.”
That serviceman, Robert Ordway, was sent to the house by Carroll’s home warranty company, Choice Home Warranty.
“I called Choice Warranty, and he told them he would come out, and eventually he stopped answering their calls,” said Chazmine. “I’m like, you sent him to my home. I didn’t go out there and pick him off the street.”
Carroll took Ordway to court in January, and when he didn’t show up, got a default judgment ordering him to pay her $1,200 dollars early May -- money she’s still trying to recoup. And despite her complaints to the company, Choice Home Warranty still sent Ordway to another customer, Mike Miano’s house in Northborough later in May to fix a broken hot water heater.
“He requested a $1,000 dollar payment,” said Miano. “I didn’t think anything of it. I’ve pre-paid before.”
After a series of delays, Mike Miano says Ordway never returned to replace the unit. He also called Choice Home Warranty to complain. Miano took Ordway to court, and when we approached him at the courthouse, he had no comment.
Choice Home Warranty told NBC10 Boston in July that it takes the matter seriously and removed the contractor from its network. A statement from Choice added it: “requires all service technicians in the network to be licensed and to carry sufficient insurance coverage.”
But is that really the case?
NBC10 Boston Responds teamed up with NBC10 Boston Investigator Ryan Kath and we quickly discovered the contractor was never licensed to do plumbing work, according to the state. We also found he had a criminal conviction in 2018, and was paying restitution for taking advantage of an elderly consumer, by fraudulently using her credit card. While on probation for that crime, police arrested him twice for continuing to do unlicensed work in people’s homes. On the Better Business Bureau website, it doesn’t get any better: an “F” rating for what the agency describes as a “pattern of complaints.” And finally, the Massachusetts Attorney General had also heard from six other consumers since 2014, who claimed the contractor took their money, but never finished the job. That’s how we found Chazmine, who can’t believe her warranty company did a thorough background check.
“I trusted you to send someone who was licensed and insured to my home,” said Chazmine.
And after our exchange in the courthouse parking lot, Ordway did pay back Mike Miano’s money, after a court settlement was reached in the case. Choice Warranty also let Mike out of his contract, reimbursing him $1,300 dollars. Mike says it’s the last time he’ll let someone else do the homework for him.
“You hire contractors, you should be checking them out for validity and honesty,” said Miano.