Monday, June 23, 2008

A (temporary) end to the nightmare

Today marked the end of a 24 day streak of no air conditioning in the Wexford Court base of operations. It was a horrible affair, one I hope is the first to go when I get dementia. The particular weather during this infamous tenure was notoriously hot and humid. For the record, I grew up without an air conditioner, and even the first 1.5 years that I lived in Durham, North Carolina we somehow survived without.

This was a power struggle, and one I lost. I bought my house in 2004, included with the purchase was a one year home warranty. The house was originally built in 1957 and had some very old components, including the package unit for both heating and cooling. During that first year I wasn't all that impressed with the warranty, so when it expired I dropped it.

For some bizarre reason I accepted an offer from my mortgage company in April to try another company for about $40 a month. No doubt they get a kickback from the sale. The company was American Home Shield, and boy I had no idea how bad they would screw me! Like most relationships, it started out well when I decided to get a burner fixed. So far, so good.

I already had a service contract with Acosta Heating and Air, so in early May they came out to do the usual maintenance of the unit. They added some freon and I thought I was good to go. But somewhere around the last day of May the unit stopped working. On the 4th they were back out and showed me a burnt through capacitor and some melted wires above it. They quoted me ~$450 to fix the unit. Like many others before him, he thought I should replace the unit - estimated cost $6,100. In a decision I mostly regret, I declined thinking I should take this up with AHS. I filed a claim that day.

It was at that point that the temperatures began to really screw the thumb down to the Charlotteans, especially those going without! It was a very hard week and first AHS vendor bailed on me Friday without evening calling as I instructed. I was nearly in tears. They did come back on Saturday. The vendor "1st Class Heating and Air," was one of the worse service technicians I had ever seen. The guy looked like he belonged in the Russian Mafia and didn't even bother to really look at the system. He said he wouldn't touch it, saying replacing the capacitor wouldn't fix a thing. He was even convinced the picture I had emailed his company came from AHS. He then screwed me over by claiming it was caused by poor maintenance.

Then began a string of repeated calls to AHS whereby they wouldn't even allow a second opinion. That company gave me so many excuses it was ridiculous. My favorite was the guy who claimed I didn't ask for a second opinion without 48 hours. Let's see, they informed me Saturday evening I was being denied, and I called Monday around noon to demand a second opinion. Let me count that on my fingers... It was then I did a little web research and found piles and piles of complaints about they treated so many other people.

I prepared all my maintenance records and had to mail them off to the legal department. It was over a week before I talked to the first sensible person, and they did grant the second opinion. But still they employed stall tactics to "smoke me out" of pursuing this course of action. There they were, sitting in their air-conditioned offices, and me just becoming more irritable by the day.

During this time I realized that the demand was so heavy on these vendors that I called Acosta to set up my own appointment should this all fail. The first available appointment, even for a "preferred customer" with a service contract, was on June 23rd, almost two weeks away!!! On June 18th a much more reputable vendor came out for a second opinion. He actually looked inside and agreed with Acosta's diagnosis. But just like the other guy, who claimed he'd "fight for me," he sided with his source of income, AHS.

American Home Shield is the worst company ever for not being a HMO that denies people life-saving medication or surgeries. It slowly dawned on me that I had no avenue for forcing this issue as I had bought into a package unit was very old. No amount of actual care by Acosta could pretty it up. I had paid the ultimate price for what was really normal wear and tear. I inherited this unit stupid enough to believe a company like AHS would "help me." I have become very cynical through this whole process. The only intention they had was to collect my money; their vague contract language, including the BS some of the reps made up as "company policy," makes sure they will never pay anything to people in my situation.

So I had to wait until today to do something that could have been accomplished on June 4th. I would have saved Winston and myself much hardship. Yet I can say I've learned a lot, especially those that helped me out. My neighbor who helped me with fans, my girlfriend who let Winston and I stay in her apartment while she was gone, co-workers and friends that really do care.

Sure enough the repair was done quickly and the air began to flow.

"The spice must flow"
-Spacing Guild Report

Most likely this package unit will have to be replaced in the near future. And it's going to be a pretty penny! On the bright side, it will be way more efficient than the old monster I have now and will of course make my home more attractive when it comes time to sell.

As if that was not enough damage - this weekend my car began to idle quite rough. The engine light started to blink and I knew I was headed for trouble. I took it in that morning and found out, while waiting for the repairman, that it would cost $600 to replace a wide array of spark plugs and distributor caps because the fourth cylinder was misfiring. The only good news was that it was ready after I was done at the house.

Of course there was another big purchase to be made today as well. At 3PM I signed up Ironman Coeur d'Alene for June 21, 2009. Here I come! These brand races are EXPENSIVE - $550! I probably will not do another.

Despite all my whining and complaining, today is a great day. Not because of anything described above, but because it's the birthday of someone very special. Perhaps the most important person I have met in Washington, someone who has been very close for a very long time. I assume if you read my blog or have gotten this far, you like my style of writing. If so, then you should know Courtney is the original reason I became impassioned to take up the proverbial pen. If she won't take any credit for helping me develop as a writer and person, then I'll spin it this way!

Only by you...


El Dude said...

Were the Freemen contacted about this? I am sure they would have shown up on a sand worm or two and helped you fight the good fight!

Publius said...

"Release the atomics on American Home Shield!!!"


Or even better:

American Home Shield rep: "What's in the box?"
Reverand Mother: Pain.