Things aren’t always what they seem
Some residents in the Holley-Navarre area have reportedly received a letter that appears to be from the water company, but a closer look at the fine print says otherwise. The letter tells residents that the water line buried underground on their property is the homeowner’s responsibility and the cost of repairs fall on their shoulders. The company sending the letter, HomeServe USA Corp., is selling a service plan or insurance to cover the cost of any future repairs.
One has to look closely to see that the letter does not come from the water company, and that is the main complaint from consumers. According to the Better Business Bureau website, the company has been an accredited BBB business since 2014 and maintains an A+ rating. However, they have had 220 complaints lodged against them in the past three years. And in May of 2015, HomeServe entered into an Assurance of Discontinuance with the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General of Maryland. The settlement contained advertising allegations stemming from January 2010 that HomeServe addressed and modified in that same year. Under the terms of the Assurance, among other things HomeServe agreed that it will not represent an affiliation with any municipality, government entity, or public utility, unless such a partnership exists.
In October 2015, HomeServe entered into a similar Assurance of Discontinuance with the Attorney General of the State of New York to settle allegations that in 2010 HomeServe solicited coverage for water line and exterior electrical protection coverage by implying the company was acting on behalf of the customers’ utility company or a government authority.
Paulette Scarpetti, CEO of the Connecticut Better Business Bureau said, “Really, 200 complaints for a company of this size is not a lot. They have worked to resolve complaints and have maintained an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.”
General Manager for Holley-Navarre Water Systems, Paul Gardner made it clear that there is no affiliation between the water company and HomeServe. “They do not represent us or do business with us in any way,” Gardner said. HNWS has not received any customer phone calls about the letter thus far.
In an email to Navarre Press, Myles Meehan Public Relations for SVP said, “One of HomeServe’s objectives for our mailing materials is to educate homeowners on their responsibilities with respect to the water line connecting their home to the local water system. It is also to inform them of an affordable way to alleviate what can be a costly and unexpected repair bill. In our offer mailings to Navarre, our registered service mark on the top of the letter, our letter clearly states – not in fine print – who HomeServe is, where we are located, that we are “an independent company separate from your local utility or community” and that the coverage is optional. Additionally the materials include a descriptive brochure. There should be no question that the information is from HomeServe and not in any way associated with the City of Navarre, the Holley-Navarre Water System, or that it carries their endorsement.”
Meehan went on to say, “HomeServe has been serving customers in Florida since 2009 and now serves over 116,000 homeowners around the state with one or more of our service plans. We are a leading provider of Emergency Repair Service Plans in the U.S. HomeServe is accredited by the Better Business Bureau with an A+ rating (as you found due in part to the low number of complaints for a business of our size). We protect homeowners against the expense and inconvenience of water, sewer, electrical, heating and cooling system repairs by providing affordable coverage and quality service. Through partnerships with over 60 municipal and utility partners, and through our own brand, like we’re offering in Navarre area, we serve over 2.3 million homeowners around the continental U.S. who hold over 3 million of these various service plans. Over the last 3 years we have performed over 1 million repairs for our customers. ”
A copy of the letter received can be seen HERE
The company’s full Better Business Report can be seen online at: www.bbb.org