Many Cincinnati area homeowners have received letters in the mail offering protection for their underground water, sewer, or electric lines.
They often tell you that a repair could cost you two thousand dollars if you don't have coverage.
But as one couple found out, there are some things they don't tell you up front.
Protection for old pipes
Pat McKendrick lives in an old home with old pipes.
So an offer for protection for his underground water and sewer lines sounded promising. Pat said "it sounded attractive, especially since we are living in a home built in 1920. We figured we might have some plumbing problems so it sounded good."
And it was just $65 a year. He said "so we signed up for it."
Then, one Saturday a few months later, the main drain out of his house backed up.
Pat immediately called the company's 24 hour emergency hotline. But he told me "when the phone would ring they said the lines were busy, and please stay on the line, then the next message was' we appreciate your business, please stay on the line,' over and over."
So Pat tried again....and again....all weekend long. He said "I did that for 15 minutes to a half hour, and then I tried it again. And then I tried again, and got the same thing."
Frustrated, Pat finally called a local plumber who he said found the clog in about 3 hours.
He ended up footing the $200 bill himself.
Several companies offer underground water and sewer protection. But they often have so many exceptions, that many public water departments do not endorse them.
These plans often exclude damage caused by digging, earth movement, or defective pipes. The same exclusions often apply to underground wire protection, if your electric runs underground.
And as Pat learned, if they have a skeletal weekend staff, you might wait till Monday for your call to be answered.
If you are considering underground protection, check the company with the Better Business Bureau. Some companies have been in trouble with the BBB for making this service appear to be mandatory, or offered by your utility. In most cases it is a private company, with no ties to your utility.
You decide if this is a case of don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.