Car warranty robocalls - who does that?
Jun. 13—From all the robocalls you'd assume every person in America is driving a lemon that is about disintegrate from all the rust, right after the transmission falls out.
We've all become accustomed to unsolicited scam callers, but in the past you could at least enjoy the variety of rip-offs. There were the Social Security scams, the bank fraud hustles, fake charities and sham tech support calls.
Now the only calls anyone seems to be getting are trying to sell us an extended vehicle warranty. We still have a landline and have been averaging about five calls a day, all of them using spoof phone numbers that look like they're coming from someone locally.
Cellphones used to be a relative safe haven from scam calls but no more. I get more and more there too, saying "Hi, this is Judy calling from the car service center."
I know I'm not alone. On average there are more than 50 billion — with a "b" — robocalls made every year in America.
The Federal Communications Commission says warranty robocalls were the top call complaint filed by consumers in 2020, and the trend is continuing this year.
The extended warranty scammers often know what vehicles you own and pretend they are simply extending your current warranty.
In many cases the warranties they are selling — for several hundred to thousands of dollars — won't be accepted by an auto garage or body shop. And much of the time the warranty doesn't exist at all, they just take your money and are gone.
Edmunds, the online resource for auto information, says you should be careful even with "legitimate" extended warranty companies. Many do pay a portion of "covered" repairs but you usually pay a bigger portion. And many of them do everything possible to not pay any claims.
I talked to a guy who does transmission repairs who won't deal with any extended warranty places. He said they put up so many roadblocks and add so many delays that customers may not get their vehicle fixed for several weeks. And the companies usually end up paying little or nothing toward the repair.
The warranty push is mostly via robocalls but there are also TV ads. The biggest is CarShield.
They show a bunch of supposed customers singing CarShield's praises.
My wife and I always wait for our favorite part in the ad, when an alleged customer says "Car Shield put in a motor and a transmission! Who does that?"
Which is always my cue to say, "No one does that."
Another "customer" says the company paid $3,500 to fix her air conditioning. For $3,500 I hope a 2015 Kia Sorento comes with it.
After numerous complaints, the Better Business Bureau has flagged CarShield for misleading advertising practices.
I've driven a lot of vehicles way past their natural lifespan. The only extended warranty that might help me is one that covers duct tape, body filler and touch-up paint. Anything more serious than that comes up and it's heading to the junk yard.
I always wondered if anyone actually bought an extended warranty from someone who randomly called them using a fake caller ID number. But obviously a whole lot of people do or they wouldn't be sending out billions of the robocalls.
It's an old saying but worth repeating: If it's too good to be true, it probably isn't.
And if a TV pitchman says "Who does that?" just remember:
No one does.
Tim Krohn can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 507-344-6383.