CFA: Protecting your plumbing

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Running water in the kitchen sink is something she'll no longer take for granted. Toby Mutu says when she had a broken water pipe, she immediately called American Water Resources, expecting a quick fix in exchange for a $50 co-pay.

(MGN/file)

After all, she had been paying the company for years for its home protection service.

Its website says it offers peace of mind to homeowners who pay an annual fee and then suffer water, sewer, or in-home plumbing problems.

Toby says after she called American Water Resources, the company sent out two different plumbers. One reportedly claimed the repair was more than her coverage amount. The second company reportedly looked at the problem, but never submitted a bid, leaving her hanging.

Toby says, “It didn't seem to bother them at all that I was in here without water. I couldn't cook, I couldn't wash dishes or do anything, you know.”

Toby got a hold of another plumber on her own, who came up with a different diagnosis. Mr. Rooter simply replaced a section of rusted out pipe, charging her $320. Within hours Toby's kitchen was back in business.

Toby then called and cancelled the remainder of her contract with American Water Resources. She was told a refund check would be in the mail. That was last July. She says other calls in August and September left her with empty promises that a check was on the way, but it never, ever came.

Toby explains, “But I got a check in the mail after you got on them."

After I called American Water Resources, Toby got a check overnight.

Eric Palm, the president of American Water Resources, sent me this statement:

“We apologize that we disappointed Mrs. Mutu. We pride ourselves on our responsive, customer-focused representation; however, in Mrs. Mutu's case, we took longer than usual to process her claim, which created a bad customer experience."

He said they would use her case as a way to refresh training for their reps.

He also noted the company has a 94 percent customer service rating with the BBB and an A-plus rating.

What he failed to note is that despite that stellar rating, American Water Resources also has 282 BBB customer complaints. Of those, all have been resolved, but only 91 cases were verified resolved to the customers' satisfaction.

No one knows when plumbing problems will crop up. After talking with experts, I believe your best bet may be to create your own rainy day fund in case you have problems or to buy a customer service plan with a reputable, local plumber you trust.

Many go for about $20 a year and include a yearly inspection of everything related to your water, sewer and plumbing lines. Such programs may also include discounts as well as preference when scheduling appointments.