Secure Home Warranty was a Philadelphia-based home warranty company that opened in 2015. According to customer reviews on Yelp, BBB, Google Reviews, and other consumer reporting sites, the company was scamming its customers from the very beginning. Secure Home Warranty scam meant that they frequently did not fulfill their contracts, and customers were not getting what they paid for.
The first review on Yelp, dated August 2016, says: “AC needs a new compressor. 8 days of run around will finally pay $250 on a $2500 repair. Negative stars if possible. This is a scam company. Avoid at all costs.” This reviewer was complaining that Secure Home Warranty used many different loopholes to avoid paying out customer claims.
Many customers not only reported unsatisfactory experiences with the company but also filed lawsuits. Secure Home Warranty worked from virtual offices rather than a physical company location so that they would be harder to find. Before they closed, Secure Home Warranty’s BBB rating was F with more than four hundred complaints.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Secure Home Warranty scammed more than 160 clients across the USA. The company was cheating the homeowners by falsely advertising services, denying claims on purpose, and even charging credit cards without consent.
One of the complaints on the BBB says the company had “gone out of business without any notice. But they charged my credit card this January 2018! Fortunately, I found it out in time. That card was not used much and I almost forgot it.” These actions by Secure Home Warranty were not just unethical, but even criminal.
As a part of their scheme to cheat customers out of their money, Secure Home Warranty had charged their clients hundreds of dollars for service contracts. But in return, they didn’t pay for repairs, using several different tactics to mislead their customers. One example was that the company worked out of virtual offices so that they would be harder to find and hold accountable.
The company’s official address was listed as 1735 Market St #3750, Philadelphia, PA 19103. However, a receptionist in the building told the Troubleshooters on 6abc (a group that investigates corporate misconduct) that the company didn’t actually operate there and that they had never met or even seen the company’s representatives. That’s because this company paid to use the location only as a virtual office. The virtual office manager said to 6abc that she had terminated Secure Home Warranty’s service.
Problems with Communication
Based on the lawsuit by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, Secure Home Warranty’s clients often spent months trying to file a claim, as the company’s phone lines were out of service and they were very difficult to reach. Some consumers managed to file claims, but never heard back from the company and had to pay for the repairs themselves.
Customers described their negative experiences with Secure Home Warranty on the BBB website:
“I have tried to reach by phone and email to request service but no response; phone rings busy always any time of day called…no response.”
“I have called over 50 times but line is always busy. My wife has health issues and a functioning AC unit is absolutely essential.”
“I purchased 2 1/2 year home warranty. Today my air/heating unit went out and when I tried to contact them, no luck. The phone line stays busy and no email response.”
“I attempted to submit a claim at the end of 2016, but when I called I was told the office would be notified and someone would call me back. After several attempts, I completed the repair myself. Again, on 0808/18 I attempted to submit a claim, but the line only rings busy and the website does not appear to be functioning. I have emailed the company as well.”
In other cases, Secure Home Warranty said it couldn’t find a contractor and asked clients to pay for repairs out-of-pocket and promised to reimburse. However, the company failed to pay back its customers for the repairs:
“In July 2018, when my dryer broke, Secure Home Warranty, as they could not provide a service visit in more than 2 weeks time, requested me to get my own service visit and repair to get the issue fixed. Secure Home Warranty asked me to pay [by] myself to the vendor and requested me to forward the invoice for reimbursement. I paid $140 and forwarded the invoice to Secure Home Warranty. I also signed a reimbursement and release agreement on July 18, 2017. After that, I made several calls with no response. It takes more than 30 minutes to hold the call for the associate and sometimes more than that. I am tired of calling them.”
Although Secure Home Warranty advertised that they did not require home inspections, the company routinely denied claims or reduced the payout for failure to provide inspection documents, citing the fine print. Even if the consumer had submitted an inspection report, it was denied for not providing comprehensive service records. These examples of blatant false advertising demonstrate the extent of Secure Home Warranty’s misconduct and unethical behavior.
The Company Owners
Secure Home Warranty ended operations in November 2017 without notice and without addressing numerous complaints. However, a new company called First Choice Home Warranty continued to charge credit cards of former Secure Home Warranty clients under the name “Home Warranty” even if consumers had never signed a contract with this new company.
There is at least one lawsuit filed against Secure Home Warranty and its former owners, Alan Maleh and Elliot Ashkenazie. According to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, the complaint also names First Choice Home Warranty as one of the offenders, which was established by Alan Maleh one month before Secure Home Warranty went out of business.
One of the former owners of Secure Home Warranty, Elliot Ashkenazie, denied that he owned the company when reached by phone by The Philadelphia Inquirer. He said that he worked there for a short period, and knew nothing about the company’s further actions.
The lawsuit filed by the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court in April 2019 recommends a permanent ban on any of Alan Maleh and Elliot Ashkenazie’s companies operating in Pennsylvania. It also seeks restitution and damages and asks for a $1,000 fine per violation of the state’s consumer fraud law, as well as an extra $3,000 for violations against senior citizens.
Undoubtedly, companies like Secure Home Warranty cause great damage to the industry’s reputation. The story of the Secure Home Warranty scam provides us with a prime example of the type of dishonest company you should avoid when choosing a home warranty. However, not every home warranty service provider is a scam. There are many legitimate companies that sell home warranties, and it’s important to do research about a company’s reputation and trustworthiness before you sign any contracts.