HETRICK: Mundane matters of middle-class homebuyers

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Bruce Hetrick

I was going to tell you my oven story.

My wife and I bought a new home, you see. It cost a lot of money. So even though the seller signed the required forms saying everything was hunky-dory; even though an inspector went through the place on our behalf; even though the seller spent thousands of dollars fixing the things the inspector said needed fixing, we purchased homeowner’s warranty insurance at the time we closed on the property.

Allegedly, this insurance would cover our fannies should certain things fail after the sale. Allegedly, appliances were one of those things.

Months before we moved in, while we were still remodeling and redecorating the place, the oven started beeping.

Having had this problem at our previous home, we suspected the likely culprit: a faulty control panel.

We called the homeowner’s warranty company. They directed us to one of their preferred repair companies.

We set an appointment and waited through the proverbial four-hour window for the fellow to appear.

Naturally, the oven didn’t make a sound while he was in the house. He said there was nothing he could do.

Service charge: $75.

After we moved in last month, I turned on the oven to reheat some pizza—our favorite staple while unpacking box after box of material possessions.

I set the oven for 400 degrees. It got to 100—and shut itself off.

I set it again. It shut itself off.

I tried again. It shut itself off.

So we called the homeowner’s warranty company. They directed us to the same preferred repair company.

We set an appointment and waited through the proverbial four-hour waiting window.

This time, the repairman encountered the same problem I encountered.

He told us we likely needed to replace the oven.

Service charge: $75 and wait to hear from the homeowner’s warranty company.

After nagging the insurer and waiting through loopy voicemail loops and endless on-hold music, we eventually learned the warranty company didn’t like their preferred vendor’s diagnosis. They wanted a second opinion.

So they directed us to a second preferred repair company.

We set an appointment and waited through the proverbial four-hour window.

Repair doctor two encountered the same problem repair doctor one and I encountered.

But he said we needed a new control panel. Naturally, he didn’t have the part.

So we waited some more—without an oven—for the part to arrive.

After we and our real estate agent nagged the appliance repair firm and the homeowner’s warranty firm for several weeks, and waited for hours through loopy voicemail loops and endless on-hold music, the part was finally overnighted to the repair firm.

We set an appointment and waited through the proverbial four-hour window.

The repairman installed the new part. It failed like the original part. He said we needed to replace the oven.

But the homeowner’s warranty insurance firm didn’t like that diagnosis. They wanted to try a third control panel.

So we set yet another appointment and waited through yet another four-hour window for the fellow to appear.

He didn’t. So I texted him. He called to say his boss decided we needed a new oven. He said he’d report that to the warranty company.

After we and our real estate agent nagged the insurance company some more—and waited through more loopy voicemail loops and more hours of on-hold music—the insurer eventually agreed to replace the oven. They called after the fact to say they’d ordered one from the manufacturer. We checked the model number. They had ordered a Chevy to replace our Cadillac.

We and our real estate agent called to say this was unacceptable. We waited again through voicemail loops and on-hold music. Finally, a rude representative said it was too late to change because the order had already been placed. We asked for a supervisor.

Days later, we learned that that order had, in fact, been canceled, and if we wanted to match the oven we’d purchased with the house, we’d have to cough up a few hundred dollars because the insurer “had to draw the line somewhere.”

We’re hoping to have an oven in the house by Thanksgiving.

I was going to share this oven story. I was going to offer sage consumer counsel about home warranty firms that try to dodge claims.

But then I read about Tomisue Hilbert suing John Menard over alleged sexual advances; and John Menard sacking Steve Hilbert in an act of alleged retaliation for Tomisue’s refusal; and John Menard’s legal battle with Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, in some related action; and Melania’s angst that the whole mess would cost her millions.

And having read about the problems rich people have—and, oh by the way, The Indianapolis Star’s report that 80,000 children are going hungry in Indianapolis—I figured that, frankly, no one would care about some unbaked middle-class warning over homeowner’s warranty insurance.•


Hetrick is an Indianapolis-based writer, speaker and public relations consultant. His column appears twice a month. He can be reached at bhetrick@ibj.com.


  • One bad apple
    You had a bad experience, but please don't assume all Warranty companies are as bad as this one. Next time use RWS, a locally owned nation wide company. No voicemail loops, real people who answer the phone and a much higher level of customer service. Good luck.
  • Which company?
    I am reaching home warranty companies. Could you give the name of the company?
  • MS
    Appreciate this tale - first, to know one is not alone in these 4-hour waits, bad 'solutions' and the rest. And knocking it into proportion ;)

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

  2. Shouldn't this be a museum

  3. I don't have a problem with higher taxes, since it is obvious that our city is not adequately funded. And Ballard doesn't want to admit it, but he has increased taxes indirectly by 1) selling assets and spending the money, 2) letting now private entities increase user fees which were previously capped, 3) by spending reserves, and 4) by heavy dependence on TIFs. At the end, these are all indirect tax increases since someone will eventually have to pay for them. It's mathematics. You put property tax caps ("tax cut"), but you don't cut expenditures (justifiably so), so you increase taxes indirectly.

  4. Marijuana is the safest natural drug grown. Addiction is never physical. Marijuana health benefits are far more reaching then synthesized drugs. Abbott, Lilly, and the thousands of others create poisons and label them as medication. There is no current manufactured drug on the market that does not pose immediate and long term threat to the human anatomy. Certainly the potency of marijuana has increased by hybrids and growing techniques. However, Alcohol has been proven to destroy more families, relationships, cause more deaths and injuries in addition to the damage done to the body. Many confrontations such as domestic violence and other crimes can be attributed to alcohol. The criminal activities and injustices that surround marijuana exists because it is illegal in much of the world. If legalized throughout the world you would see a dramatic decrease in such activities and a savings to many countries for legal prosecutions, incarceration etc in regards to marijuana. It indeed can create wealth for the government by collecting taxes, creating jobs, etc.... I personally do not partake. I do hope it is legalized throughout the world.

  5. Build the resevoir. If built this will provide jobs and a reason to visit Anderson. The city needs to do something to differentiate itself from other cities in the area. Kudos to people with vision that are backing this project.