Thousands of dollars lost after two people in the Heartland buy vehicle service contracts

Published: Nov. 5, 2021 at 10:52 AM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - It’s a situation that prompted a recent warning from the Better Business Bureau.

As we first told you last week, the agency is reporting an increasing number of complaints involving vehicle service contract companies based in and around St. Louis.

A recent BBB study found consumers often sign off on these contracts without reading them, only to find needed vehicle repairs are not actually covered.

”As in the old days, my word is my bond but people’s word don’t mean nothing nowadays,” said Cole.

For Charles Cole, getting his vehicle serviced has been anything but easy.

“I’m spending this money monthly and when it comes time to get my car serviced nothing happens,” Cole said.

The California native moved to Cape Girardeau three years ago where he bought not one but two vehicle service contracts.

The most recent was for his Jeep.

Cole learned about CarShield after seeing the company’s television commercials. According to the Better Business Bureau, VSC’s often rely on what they call influencers to promote their products.

Cole said that got his attention.

“We see Ice T and here we are thinking this guy okay, we know some of his music, but most of all we see him on SVU so this guy gotta be legit,” said Cole.

Cole’s first experience with a VSC involved a company called Automotive Protection Consultants. Cole said he paid $100 a month for the contract and when he started having trouble with his car, he called to make a claim.

“And I’m getting passed around like the hot potato and so they have me call a third-party number,” Cole said.

Whitney Quick with the Better Business Bureau recently explained this exact problem. You buy a vehicle service contract from one company, but the service comes from another.

“Consumers may spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on repair costs that they thought were covered under these policies in addition to the VSC cost,” said Quick.

“After I got off the phone, I immediately call my bank and canceled all payments going to Free Pay and then I called the Better Business Bureau on Free Pay,” Cole said.

In the meantime, Cole said after he learned about the BBB warning, he canceled his CarShield plan. He said he lost money on both vehicle service contracts he bought.

“Maybe 1,000 and 60 something bucks with Free Pay. It’s about the same thing, because we were with them for about a year as well,” said Cole.

“First time I used them, they paid right off,” Kerr said.

Down in Bernie, Mike Kerr called his first experience with CarShield a good one.

“All I had to do was pay the deductible,” said Kerr.

Kerr’s problems started with the second claim involving his truck.

After waiting five weeks to get it fixed, he called the local dealership to ask about the hold up.

“They said, ‘Mr. Kerr your, car is fixed, but they won’t pay because they said it’s not done,’ and they already got the okay. CarShield even sent one of their supervisors from Nashville, Tennessee over to Dexter,” Kerr said.

Kerr said he paid the $2,700 repair bill himself, then he got on his computer and filed complaints with both the BBB and the Missouri Attorney General’s office.

“Within about a month I got my money back,” said Kerr.

Now, both these men said they’ve learned a valuable lesson.

“When you pay for something you expect their services,” Kerr said.

We reached out to both companies involved in this story about the Better Business Bureau study. Only CarShield responded.

The company said they disagree with the BBB’s accusations about CarShield’s business practices. In a statement emailed to KFVS, they say they strive for every customer to be satisfied with their product and make a point to attend to every BBB complaint.

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