Long story short, we used our home warranty to bring out an electrician to fix a light. We had to bring him out again because it wasn’t working. Turns out we had the wrong bulbs. Should he get paid for two visits or should the home warranty cover both under the deductible?
Long story longer with more details/woe:
So, I rent a room from my friend, the homeowner, but because I work from home I end up being point on these things.
There are two old fixture fluorescent lights in the garage. One of them worked, the other didn’t. Homeowner wanted it fixed and put in a claim with our home warranty company.
The home warranty sends an electrician who comes out last week, looks it over, sees that the ballast has melted and replaces the part. Having taken out the bulbs to replace the ballast, the electrician puts them back in. They flicker—so electricity is getting through—then go out. The electrician says “it works, you just need new bulbs.” I pay his fee and he leaves.
Later, homeowner buys new bulbs, but isn’t sure if he has the right kind—there’s no model number on the fixture and it’s an older model so only a handful of options still exist anyway. At any rate, the bulbs don’t work at all, not even a flicker.
Homeowner is mad that the electrician left without finishing the job. Homeowner doesn’t like working with electricity and would have gladly paid the electrician to put in good new bulbs. Homeowner tells me to call the electrician again.
The electrician says, “look, these are simple machines. I replaced the one part, if it’s not working now it’s probably the whole fixture. I can replace the fixture for $150.”
I talk to homeowner who tells me he shouldn’t have to pay again, this should fall under the warranty, we’ve already paid the deductible. For whatever reason I feel really awkward when I call the electrician again, and I just schedule him to come back on Monday. Probably it’s not the fixture, probably it’s just that homeowner bought the wrong kind of bulb. I figure the electrician will either tell me it’s the wrong kind of bulb, or he’ll tell me it’s the fixture and I’ll tell him I need to talk to homeowner before we commit to paying for the replacement.
I’m still feeling anxious about this so I call the home warranty company on Sunday. They say they still haven’t gotten a diagnosis from the electrician, and that if it’s the fixture I shouldn’t have to pay any more than what we’ve already paid.
So today, Monday, I’m stressed because I already stopped working that morning (which I’m not supposed to do even for a minute) to deal with a separate AC repair thing. The electrician finally comes by and I can’t even say hi and work while he’s working, I have to stand there and walk through this with him so he doesn’t just start replacing the fixture.
Electrician takes one look and tells me it’s the wrong bulbs. To prove it, he takes the bulbs out of the working fixture and puts them in the non-working fixture. They work. I get the info from him of what kind of bulbs to use in the future. Then I remember homeowner saying “I wish you’d told him the first time to finish the job by putting in new bulbs.” I tell that to the electrician. He had brought bulbs with him for the replacement fixture, so he puts those in (and the other ones back in the other light). It works.
The repair is complete and now he wants to charge me $130 for the call and bulbs. This is the point when I guess I should have said, “Get that from the warranty company, I already paid the deductible.”
Instead I texted homeowner, who doesn’t answer because (I learn later) he was in a meeting. I’m stressed, I’ve been away from work for like 35 minutes now which I’m going to have to make up, I don’t know how I’m supposed to tell this guy who is in our garage and just finished doing his work that I’m not going to pay him. So I just pay him and he leaves.
Homeowner gets out of his meeting and tells me I shouldn’t have done that.
My feeling is that we called the electrician out the second time essentially to change a light bulb. Surely a home warranty doesn’t cover bulbs. The guy should get paid for coming out to do the work. I feel caught in the middle of a dispute that my friend is having with a contractor that I don’t even necessarily agree with.
Anyway. Aside from whether or not I was right to pay the electrician, my question is will the home warranty cover this? Do I talk to them to try and get them to reimburse me? Do I cancel the credit charge?
And I guess since this is H/A, how can I avoid this situation in the future? Obviously being in charge of this stuff stresses me out, because homeowner has all the decision power but I have to be the face and execute what he wants done, even if I don’t understand it. He can’t leave work, so even though I’m not supposed to stop working in the middle of the day, I have to be the one to do it because I’m the one who’s home. Sometimes all I have to do is let people in, but in situations like today’s it’s a major headache.
Also I’m the one who ends up paying these people and homeowner pays me back, so I’m worried that if I don’t recover the electrician money I’m going to be on the hook for it.
I don’t know why this whole thing is so stressful and difficult. If you’ve made it to the end of this rambling rant, let me know if you have any advice. I think it helped a little just to type it all out...