April 20, 2007
St. Louis, Mo. — Attorney General Jay Nixon wants restitution for consumers from a St. Louis business that he says took money from homeowners to provide repairs and replacement for household appliances but failed to provide the services as promised. Today, Nixon’s office obtained a temporary restraining order against On-Call Home Services in St. Louis City Circuit Court, which will bar the business from continuing to violate state consumer protection laws. The Attorney General will be seeking a preliminary injunction, restitution and penalties at the next hearing on May 2.
According to Nixon, On-Call Home Services began contracting with consumers in 2001 to provide home protection plans that covered repair and replacement of major household appliances such as electrical, heating and cooling, and water heater systems. Consumers who entered into contracts with the defendant for a home protection plan paid monthly fees from $13.95 to $50.90. To receive service under the plan, consumers were instructed to contact On-Call to place a claim and arrange for a repairman from an authorized service provider to make repairs. On-Call also stated that if it was unable to facilitate repairs, it would reimburse the consumer for repairs performed on covered items by an authorized repair service.
Nixon says his office has received 25 consumer complaints to date about On Call Home Services. The complaints included consumers who had their air conditioner or furnace replaced and submitted claims for the $250 replacement allowance spelled out in On-Call’s home protection plan, but never received reimbursement despite making monthly payments to the defendant for years. Those consumers who attempted to contact On-Call about their claims either were told to be patient or received no response at all.
“Homeowners dutifully paid their monthly payments to this outfit in exchange for the peace of mind that if their furnace went out in the dead of winter, or their air conditioner quit in the middle of the summer, it would get fixed and they would be reimbursed for any outstanding amounts,” Nixon said. “Instead, consumers had to pay for these services out of their own pockets and were never reimbursed as promised.”
Today’s temporary restraining order also requires the defendant to provide the Attorney General’s Office within seven days of all of its financial information, including a current list of consumers with home protection plans and how much money is owed to those consumers for repair reimbursements and replacement allowance that were never paid.