BBB Warning: Consumers should use caution when responding to warranty mailers
Milwaukee, Wis. – Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers to use caution when doing business with US Automotive Protection Services LLC, an extended vehicle service contract company located in O’Fallon, Missouri. Consumers allege the company uses misleading and high-pressure sales tactics, fails to cancel contracts in a timely manner or provide refunds, and provides poor customer service.
Consumers have posted more than 125 complaints and more than 100 customer reviews, most of which are negative, since February 2018 about US Automotive Protection Services LLC. The business has an “F” rating, the lowest on BBB’s scale.
The company often solicits consumers through postcard mailers. Consumers tell BBB they believe the mailers are misleading. Consumers say the mailers convey a sense of urgency because their service contract may be expiring and they need to act immediately by calling the company. After the call is made, consumer say, hard-sell attempts are made to sell a vehicle service contract to the consumer.
BBB has warned consumers about the marketing tactics used by this industry for more than a decade, yet some companies have done little to change how they do business. If a consumer is seeking coverage for their vehicle, they need to do their research to find a policy that fits their needs.
A woman from Colorado Springs, Colorado, told BBB she is still waiting to receive a refund on an extended vehicle service contract she purchased in October 2019. Soon after buying a used vehicle in August 2019, she said she received a mailer from US Automotive Protection Services LLC. She said she believed she had to act quickly.
The woman said she never used the policy and asked for a refund in February 2020, but was told no refund would be given. She was seeking $745 from the company, which did not respond to her complaint filed with BBB. She said she had difficulty canceling the policy.
“They kept questioning my decision, asking me if I was making the right choice,” the woman told BBB. “I was on the phone with them for an hour, trying to tell them I didn’t want the policy any longer.”
“They made him feel like he was stupid,” the woman told BBB. “At one point they told him he only had seven payments left so he should just keep it.”
The woman eventually took over her father’s affairs and attempted to get the contract canceled. She said the business tried to talk her out of canceling. When she asked for a copy of the contract, she said she was told she would have to pay a $20 fee.
“Their customer service is terrible. I was treated terribly,” the woman told BBB.
The man received a refund of $1,200 in early May 2020, about a year after he made his first call to the company for cancellation. The family sought more than $1,700 in charges.
According to Missouri secretary of state records, the business was registered on June 28, 2017. Brandon Michael Schrader is listed as the business organizer.
BBB has questioned the company about statements made on its mailers, but the company has not addressed BBB’s concerns.
“Our records indicate that you have not contacted us to have your vehicle protection activated,” a typical mailer reads. “This notice is to inform you that your (vehicle year and model) is in need of vehicle protection in order to ensure its continued safe operation. Please call us today at (toll-free number). By neglecting to activate your protection program you will be responsible for paying all repairs out of pocket.”
The recipient of the mailer is given a deadline date to respond and is told “immediate response requested.”
The company did not respond to a BBB letter asking what it is doing to address its ongoing, serious pattern of complaints.
BBB tips for consumers considering purchasing a vehicle service contract:
- Research any business and its owners carefully before paying any money. Check the company’s BBB Business Profile at BBB.org or by calling 800-273-1002.
- Do not be pressured into making an immediate decision. Beware of any sales offer that requires you to buy now in order to qualify for the best rate.
- Never give away any personal or credit card information over the phone or via e-mail until you have read and agreed to the terms and conditions to a contract.
- Beware of claims that you will receive “bumper-to-bumper” coverage on your vehicle. That does not necessarily mean that every problem will be covered. Look for conditions and disclaimers.
- Read your manufacturer’s warranty and contact your dealer or manufacturer to make sure you are not purchasing duplicate coverage.
- Do the math. Sometimes the cost of a service contract may be more than the value of the vehicle.
For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2019, people turned to BBB more than 183 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.8 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Wisconsin which was founded in 1939 and serves the state of Wisconsin.