5 On Your Side

Photos Help Fayetteville Man Get Cool Return

Posted January 5, 2005 3:22 a.m. EST

— Owning a home means sometimes you have to pay a lot of money for a repair, especially when the home is not brand new.

That is why some sellers include a warranty as part of the deal. That sounded great to Jim Thiele -- until he used it.

An old, broken air conditioning unit may be an odd thing to photograph, but the photos ended up being worth more than $1,000.

In September, Thiele and his family moved into a house in Fayetteville. A week later, the 12-year-old air conditioner stopped working.

"It was hot," he said. "I said, 'I know it's an old unit, but why now? Why in the summer?'"

Then Thiele remembered a one-year warranty from American Home Shield came with the house.

He called and the company sent a repairman who determined the compressor was bad.

Thiele called AHS to get details about the repair.

"They told me that it was not covered under warranty. That the unit was dirty and was not properly maintained," he said.

AHS pointed him to the part of the contract that spelled it out.

Thiele eventually decided to buy a new unit. He asked the technician who installed the new unit to assess the condition of the old one.

"He says it was clean. It looked like it was properly maintained. It was normal wear and tear for an old machine that went out," he said.

So Thiele took pictures and called AHS.

"They said, 'I'm sorry. You'll have to live with it. We stand behind our decision,'" Thiele said.

So Thiele called Five on Your Side and we called AHS.

After looking at the pictures Thiele took, an AHS spokeswoman said the unit looks "clean." Even though the company would have only covered the repair costs, Diane Pieper offered to pay AHS's cost for replacing the unit -- about $1,100.

Thiele is happy with the check and that he took the photos.

"I'll hang the pictures on the wall," he said.

Pieper pointed out that Thiele could have requested a second opinion; however, when he called to question the original diagnosis, he said that option was not offered to him.

Pieper added that AHS continually evaluates its contractors to keep such problems to a minimum.