I was really shocked at the promises made to consumers in advertising and sales pitches by U.S. Fidelis, once known as National Auto Warranty Services and Dealer Services.
The Maryland Attorney General's office just issued a final order against the company and its owners, ordering them to pay more than $25 million in restitution and penalties. But since the company is in bankruptcy, customers may only receive a small percentage of what they paid.
Many of the customers received mailings that implied they were coming directly from their car's manufacturer, and that the company would be extending the manufacturer's warranty, when in reality these were third-party service contracts.
One customer listed in the final order issued by the Consumer Protection division of the Maryland Attorney General's office signed up after hearing an advertisement for "bumper-to-bumper" service contracts.
But "there are a lot of parts between front bumper and back bumper that weren’t covered," said Philip Ziperman, deputy chief of the consumer protection division.
She was told she could go to any licensed garage and get reimbursed for the work, but when she tried to get them to pay for fixing her air-conditioning, they asked her for proof she had gotten oil changes. Then, her engine needed to be replaced, and they denied her claim even when she showed oil change receipts.
Another customer was told he was not covered because he failed to use an engine additive. Others were told that the repairs they needed were not covered because those were considered routine maintenance.
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