Andre and Andrea Ebert of Manchester, Penn., were surprised when they opened their Jan. 2013 Wells Fargo mortgage statement to read that a $52.47 fee was added for American Home Shield insurance of which they never enrolled. The fee was for a home warranty.
According to Ebert’s conversation with Wells Fargo in early January American Home Shield insurance sent their mortgage customers a letter that automatically enrolled them in a warranty policy if there was no response to AHS’s initial letter.
Andrea states that to her knowledge she never received the initial letter and if it did arrive she might have thought it was another advertisement from the lender.
The monthly premium would cost the family $629 annually.
Andrea and her husband were billed $104.94 for a two month period and it's not reimbursable according to AHS. The two decided to place a complaint on RipOffReport.org to gain attention to the matter.
Interview Feb. 10:
Laura: How long have you owned your Wells Fargo financed home?
Andre and Andrea: Three and a half years. Our original loan was from Fulton Bank and the loan was bought by Wells Fargo before the end of the first year.
Laura: Were you ever aware that the only forced placed insurance that any lender impose on you are mortgage insurance or home insurance in the situation where you do not have coverage?
Andre and Andrea: Yes, and in our situation flood insurance as well since we are in a flood zone
Laura: When did Wells Fargo claim that they sent out the initial letter about the American Home Shield warranty insurance?
Andre and Andrea: The letter, I believe, came from AHS. When I spoke with a Wells Fargo Representative, she said the letter was issued by AHS, the timing, I have no idea.
Laura: What did the insurance cover?
Andre and Andrea: We don't know  because we never received paper work, with the exception of a cancellation letter.
Laura: Did they ever forward you a new copy of the letter by email or mail for your inspection?
Andre and Andrea: Never.
Laura: When did you notice the fee for AHS and how much was it per month?
Andre and Andrea: I (Andrea) noticed it early January 2013 because it was added onto our monthly mortgage bill from Wells Fargo. It was for $52.47
Laura: Who did you call Wells Fargo or AHS to have the insurance coverage stopped?
Andre and Andrea: I called Wells Fargo initially and had to cancel and then had to call AHS to cancel on that end as well.
Laura: Was this insurance an overlap of your existing coverage?
Andre and Andrea: No.
Laura: What did the billing statement imply in terms of activation of the contract?
Andre and Andrea: We never received a direct billing statement from AHS, just a sneaky "additional fee" in our monthly mortgage bill.
Laura: When you attempt to cancel the service who did you call and what was their response to you?
Andre and Andrea: I called Well Fargo. The women I spoke to were apologetic and said they were getting a lot of calls and complaints. She was just the messenger and was polite.
Laura: They just told you that because there was not a response to an initial letter that you automatically were enrolled for $54 per month?
Andre and Andrea: Yes. That is what the Wells Fargo representative told me. She explained to me how scam worked.
Laura: How many phone calls did it take to have the insurance stopped and how much of your personal time did it take?
Andre and Andrea: Two calls and two hours.
Laura: Was the $54 a hardship to you and your family?
Andre and Andrea: There are certain months in the year where the $54 could have been a hardship, a tank of gas, groceries, $54, can leave you with one or two bounced checks and lead to a downward spiral, but we were fortunate during this time.
Laura: Did you get a refund of the amount billed?
Andre and Andrea: No, we were billed $104.94 and AHS wrote in the cancellation document we received that “no reimbursement is due at this time".
Laura: So the letter according to Wells Fargo and AHS that was sent out not as an advertisement to sell you insurance, but to inform you that they were imposing insurance?
Andre and Andrea: Well yes, not technically since the junk mail from AHS stated that if the person chose to ignore the letter AHS would assume we wanted the contract and therefore became a "binding Contract".
I never read the letter, if I received it, I threw it away with all our other junk mail. Or, for all we know it could have gone to the wrong address. For those who did received it and actually took time to read it they would have to check “No” and send it back so they were not "imposed".
Laura: In addition they told you that regardless if you agreed to the insurance, you still were forced to purchase the insurance as they did not refund the dollars charged?
Andre and Andrea: We were able to cancel the contract, but we were not reimbursed for the period covered. In our case it was two months and which totaled $104.94.
Laura: Who constructed the letter?
Andre and Andrea: [According to our conversations with Wells Fargo and AHS] it was AHS.
Laura: Who mailed the letter?
Andre and Andrea: [According to our conversations with Wells Fargo and AHS] AHS
Laura: Have you heard of anyone else receiving the same letter?
Andre and Andrea: There are many complaints online.
Laura: How do you feel about Wells Fargo after billing you for imposed insurance that did not require your signature on a contract?
Andre and Andrea: My husband and I already had a bad taste for Well Fargo and after this I have looked into to getting our home refinanced just to avoid them.
Laura: Do you feel that they may attempt something similar in the future?
Andre and Andrea: No doubt.
Laura: Have you notified the state and national insurance division about the imposition?
Andre and Andrea: No, but now [because of this interview], I think I should, it’s an absolute scam.
Laura: Have you notified the Attorney General’s office?
Andre and Andrea: No, but as stated [I will pursue this], I have to make time and do it.
If you are have had a similar experience please contact the insurance division for your state. Their contact information is available online.
If you have a story that you want to talk about contact LauraAlexanderJournalist@gmail.com