Blount County couple struggles with home warranty company over heat pump repairs

WALLAND, Tenn. (WATE) - A Blount County couple continues to have issues with a home warranty company. A repairman came to their place in October, but their heating system still isn't repaired, despite several calls.

Ann Wolf and CJ Byerly purchased a whole home warranty that covers all appliances, including their HVAC system. Their contract was made with Sears Home Warranty in August, but it turns out Sears apparently subcontracts the service calls through a business in Florida. That company called a local contractor last October to examine the couple's geothermal system, which still isn't working.

For three and half months, Byerly has been pulling logs from a woodpile to heat his home in Walland. Those logs are also used by his wife Ann to heat their wood burning cookstove. Byerly figures he wouldn't have to haul logs every day if a technician who came to his home in October to check out a faulty thermostat knew what he was doing.

"It was very clear from the start that he was not knowledgeable about how to diagnose, not knowledgeable about how to obtain parts," said Wolf.

Last October, Byerly said he accompanied a technician to examine their home's faulty geothermal heat pump. He said the two of them crawled under the home to check the unit. Byerly said soon after the diagnostic check, he went back under the crawlspace.

"I found out that the valve isn't opening and closing because the wires aren't connected," he said. "I knew right then and there what he said when he got here was true. He didn't know what he was doing."

Their home's energy efficient geothermal heat pump hasn't worked since late October.

"Sears is a well-known name in the United States. So we went with Sears because of its notoriety," said Byerly.

The warranty costs $70 per month. Sears Home Warranty apparently subcontracts the service.

"We were referred to a group called Cross Country Home Services in Florida. They are to fulfill the terms of the contract, but they are not Sears," said Wolf

When the local repairman was unable to fix their heat pump, the couple made calls to both Sears and to Cross County Home Services for help.

"One of the problems is if you are having difficulties and you call a customer service number, one hand doesn't know what the other hand is doing, which leads to long hours on the phone," said Wolf.

Then two weeks ago, they got a check out of the blue for $426.59.

"I had no clue what that was for or why we were receiving it," said Wolf.

The check came from Cross Country Home Services. Wolf found out,it was for parts and labor. 

"Even though there were no instructions in the envelope. I got the check. I called. They informed me this is supposed to pay for getting this problem fixed," she said.

Byerly said he's insisted that the repairman from last October who examined their unit not return.

"So we'll get someone else to come in and that person will call Cross Country and get approval for the actual final fix," Wolf said.

Cross Country Home Services has quite a few comments online - some positive but mostly negative.  

Within the last few weeks, one customer wrote: "Awful service." Another said: "Does anyone know what is going on with this company?"

"Sears needs to stand behind their name," said Byerly. 

We contacted Sears. A spokesperson said, "our top priority is customer satisfaction."

They said they have resolved the situation and will be sending the couple another check -- all the money that's necessary to cover the costs associated with repairing their heat pump.

Ann Wolf says the repairs will start soon.

The couple continues to burn wood in their big stove. It's been three and a half months since the initial inspection on the geothermal unit.

In some of their online responses to complaints, Cross Country Home Services wrote that "once claims are reviewed," their goal is to "expedite and resolve problems" and for "the process to be simple." As Wolf said, the process was not simple. She said when she contacted Cross Country Home Services' customer service department, she had to wait for long periods of time and was sometimes cut off as she was transferred.

The couple continues to pay their monthly bill for their whole home warranty policy with Sears.

 


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