Maryville woman files lawsuit against Knoxville warranty company alleging delay in car engine replacement


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Maryville woman is sharing how she filed a lawsuit for breach of contract against a nationwide car warranty company based in East Tennessee.

The warranty company is Total Automotive Protection Plan, or TAPP. The dispute centers around replacing a blown engine and installing a used one.

Mechanic David Claunch delivered bad news when he updated Jo Carpenter on the progress of getting a new used engine for her car.

“We’re just waiting on the insurance company to send us the motor,” David Claunch said.

The warranty company he’s referring to is Total Automotive Protection Plan, or TAPP, of Knoxville. The company’s website promises 100% satisfaction, a 24-hour turnaround in getting your car back on the road.

Mrs. Carpenter has been waiting 5 and a half months for the warranty company to find a motor so she can get her SUV running again. She bought the 2015 Audi Q7 in 2019 and the engine blew while driving the car on November 17th of last year.

“My car actually sat on the side of the road for a couple of hours because I couldn’t get in touch with them,” Jo Carpenter said.

Finally two days after calling, Mrs. Carpenter says a TAPP representative asked for a copy of her warranty and service records. She showed us her signed unlimited warranty.

“Four-year unlimited mileage power train plus protection plan, top of the line, best warranty they offered. I sent them a copy of the warranty,” Jo Carpenter said. “They said they would start processing the claim.”

Mrs. Carpenter says no third party inspector was ever sent by TAPP to check the motor to find out what happened.

“We stayed on top of them, kept asking: what is the status, what is the status. They went silent on me,” Jo Carpenter said.

Tired of waiting for an engine, Mrs. Carpenter twice sent letters to the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs complaining about the business practices of TAPP.

The state’s response: “We have attempted to mediate your complaint but TAPP has not responded to our requests.”

Then, in early February, she got a phonecall from Jon Hankins, the operator of TAPP.

“He stated he was personally handling this case and that he was going to do everything he could to make this right. He had assured us that he was getting a motor,” Jo Carpenter said.

Mechanic David Claunch has serviced cars for Mrs. Carpenter and her husband for years. In mid-February, he talked with TAPP’s Jon Hankins.

“The motor was on its way several times. He’d give me several deadlines, like on Thursdays of Fridays it was going to be here,” David Claunch said. “It never showed up.”

Claunch said his cost was $38 to remove the old engine and replace it with a used one that TAPP provided.

No one was at TAPP’s office as we tried to get their side of the story. On their website, the phone number is no longer in service. However, we called the company owner’s cell phone. Jon Hankins said his company has done nothing wrong.

He said TAPP had no problem with the Jiffy Lube Multicare repair shop Mrs. Carpenter had chosen. However, he blamed the shop for the delay.

“Basically they changed the prices, they changed what they were going to charge and everything else — that’s the reason everything has stopped,” Jon Hankins said.

Hankins said he has a motor to replace the old one.

“Everything came to a stop once Jiffy Lube started to overcharge us, overcharge the customer,” Jon Hankins said.

“There was no dispute over the price of the of the motor,” Jo Carpenter said. “It was all about as long as this car was sitting here tying up bay space they were going to give an additional charge.”

At the end of March, Jo Carpenter filed a civil warrant charging Total Automotive Protection Plan with fraud and breach of contract. A hearing is set in Knoxville’s Sessions Court in two weeks.

“It’s been five months that I have not had my car,” Jo Carpenter said. “I don’t want anybody else to have to go through what we have had to go through.”

Apparently, Jon Hankins operates a second warranty company: Consumer’s Choice Warranty Corporation. It has the same Knoxville address and phone number as TAPP, but the number is no longer in service.

The Better Business Bureau has an “F” rating for Total Automotive Protection Plan (TAPP) and listed by the BBB are two dozen complaints about warranty issues not being honored.

Jon Hankins will get his day in court in mid-May.

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