Anyway, so my name is Paul, I am a slumlord and own a few properties. Over the past 4 years I have had First American Home Buyer's protection on 5 of them as when something goes wrong I want it fixed asap and to keep costs at a fixed rate.
Here are a few stories from the past few years for anyone thinking of dealing with them.
The story goes I have some Hispanic tenants at a duplex. I can communicate fairly well with them on anything non-technical, but I had to learn some remedial Spanish and they learned some technical English in order to talk about the problems with the air conditioner.
Their AC went out one day, I called First Am, they dispatched a guy and his chain smoking girlfriend to look at the unit. They came, they were quick, they said the unit was trashed and needed a new blower and a pump. Something about the pump being beyond repair and the blower being the wrong Seer rating, I do not know. First AM says they will cover it.
The woman asks me what they're like. I ask her what "they're" she's talking about. She says Mexican tenants. I tell her I have no problem with the tenants except I find it difficult to tell them about what is going on with the air conditioning system. She asks if I want her to explain it to them and I answer yes as I want to make sure they know exactly what is going on with the system. I ask if she speaks Spanish and she says a little. She walks up to one of the tenants and says in the loudest voice ever "EL AIR CONDITIONER ES KAPUT, ya unnerstand? The AC is BLOWN, we have to order a NEW ONE... you understand NEWWWWW one.". The tenants looked at me, I looked at them, we both knew at this point she had no clue and so I ended up writing down the description of the problem and having a friend translate it to proper Spanish later.
a week later they show up with the new unit, install it, leave. There're a lot of cigarette butts left all over the place. I mean a lot. Like 40. The crawlspace was littered with butts. No huge deal because they got the job done.
Total out: $55 and a little over a week of no AC
AC breaks a day later. I call First Am, they tell me they are no longer dealing with that company. They dispatch another company who comes and proceeds to install a cold start unit. They bash the first company up one hill and down the other for being slobs and they say that for every job First AM gave company 1, company 2 had to come out and fix it within a month. I think not much of it.
Total out: $55 and about 2 weeks of no AC
AC breaks 4 days later.
Company 2 is dispatched again, they say they need something. First AM doesn't like that so they dispatch Company 3 a day or two later. It's 100 degrees outside and I've loaned the tenants a window AC unit which is about powerful enough to handle the place, but not quite. First AM doesn't like what Company 2 or Company 3 had to say so they bring back company 1 a week later.
Company 1 comes back, I've had a talk with the tenants who were very good natured about the whole crazy "Spanish" speaking woman, they say that company 2 & 3 are full of BS, he does something to the unit, unfortunately the temperature is now 50 degrees outside so I really can't test the unit and have to trust them.
Total out: $55 and a nearly month of no ac
A couple of weeks go by, the weather warms back up, the AC seems to work. A month or so goes by and it's heating time. I am over at the apartments and notice the AC is a solid block of ice. Completely white ice. I call back First AM, they dispatch company 4 who looks at the unit and asks what retards have been working on it.
It's now not covered under warranty as it's been over 30 days.
Total out $110 and a month of no ac and 2 days of no heat
About 4 months after the replacement it's an unusually hot day and the AC doesn't work... again. I call, 4 days later I get someone out.
Total out $165 and 40-35 days out of the last 120 with no unit. 3 times cleaning up the contractor's mess.
Unit blows out at one of my units (not the same as above)
First Am sends some people out and they say the unit is toast, they need to replace it. I'm agreeing with them because the unit looks like toast, smells like a toaster, and generally is flaky,
Company gets a new unit, calls me up and tells me there will be $450 in uncovered charges. I ask what these charges are and they offer me a list of random things. Unfortunately at this point I am now 2500 miles away and having to call people while in a car being driven across country and find out what the deal was. First AM says that it doesn't matter what they have done or said in the past, these uncovered charges are my responsibility. I ask them how the charges that are that high can possibly not be covered under their comprehensive covereage. They give me a long runaround but if I want my tenant to have an apartment below 90 in the next 2 weeks I am going to have to bend over and take it.
I call back the company, talk to some woman give her my credit card, fall asleep in the car.
An hour or two later I get a call from them saying that the credit card they got from Lindsay for $450 was declined and could I give it again. I assume Lindsay is the woman in their billing department, wow was I wrong.
I find out they've charged me $900, upon calling them I find out they were calling for a Lindsay King's billing, they give me the address, I google, yahoo, etc it and it's not a Lindsay King, it's a woman who's uncle is named King but she was never King, they claim after a while that their private investigator has a marriage record on file for me and this woman. I mention that my girlfriend is probably not going to like that I'm married. At this point fearing I am the victim of identity theft I plunk down some money pull credit reports contact this Lindsay woman and start investigating on my own.
The Lindsay woman tells me they're contacting her telling her that I owe them money, that she has nothing to do with the property in question and that it's her uncles.
I contact First American and report what is going on. They are supremely unhelpful and will not do anything other than tell the contractors not to talk to me and tell me if I want to go with my own contractor they'll reimburse me a bit.
At this point the company is threatening to sue me for this other AC and I tell them to go ahead, then I think for a second and say "hey, this is supposedly my AC unit right?" they say yes, "so since that unit at xxx some street is mine, how about you guys go and take it and sell it for whatever you want - I'm sure it's worth more than $450". They tell me they cannot do this because that would be illegal. I ask why since they've supposedly got proof this is my property.
They shut up. This whole deal went over 9 days with me spending 8 hours investigating while I was on vacation.
The AC dies 20 days later, a new company is dispatched.
At this point I re-check the BBB report and 8 BBB complaints have been filed against this company. When I first checked there were 3.
2 months later it's cold. The tenant goes to turn on the heat and nothing. A week later an AC company comes out, looks, the original company had not installed the heating coils. He orders them, comes back 2 days later.
First Am stops doing business with that company a couple of months later. I am assured by First Am that they now have processes for dealing with rougue scam companies in place. I ask them how this is going to give me the nearly $500 I spent on the fake overage, cell phone charges, and background check website. No answer.
Had 3 tenants in a unit complaining of a burning smell. We manage to isolate it to when the AC was on, the stove was on and a couple of other things were on it started. Sniffing around I could tell it was coming from the breaker box.
I call up First Am. They dispatch an air conditioning company to come out and look at the electrics. They pop a thing on some cables, tell me that the amps are all good and my volts are a flowin and that the problem is obviously that I have the wrong 200amp breaker in the wrong 200amp fuse box.
They tell me that it's like using volkswagen parts in a corvette. Sure they will fit but they will not work. Claim denied. Bye.
I call up a company that had come out before because of First American, he comes out, looks at the box, asks me what they had said and then asks again. He seemed really confused as to why they would think that the main was not the right one especially since the main and the fuse box were the same brand.
He calls up the electric company to unlock the outside box. They come, he pops out the meter which disconnects the power. Then goes in and pops the main and the main is blown on the back side. It had been on fire it looked like. The electrician does a bit of work, replaces the fuse temporarily with one of his. The fuse box itself has been damaged and is unusable and had the first company looked with a flashlight they would have seen it.
I contact I contact FA with the thing, they ask for it in writing that the main was indeed the correct main for that box - I supply pictures of the box and the busted main which both had some sticker on it that evidently indicated it was right. After a month of fighting with them I have safe tenants and a new fusebox.
There was a time with a leaky faucet they denied me because there were no water pressure regulators on the house. After those were installed at my expense the plumber who was out looked at the leaky faucet and told me the thing was actually just old and bad and had the first plumbers looked they would have seen what the damage was. FA denied the claim because of something unrelated.
There was this last incident where they left me and my tenants hanging waiting for an emergency plumber they decided to cancel and not tell me about. Sewer gas, small children, and fun.
Gah, seems like there are more. But I have forgotten them.