Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Local News

February 17, 2012

Water line warranty letter leaves many in doubt

CENTERVILLE — The letter several Centerville residents received earlier this month asking them to purchase water service line insurance was not a scam or a fraud, according to a representative with HomeServe USA, the company that mailed the letter.

"Our company did send this letter to many customers across the state of Iowa, and HomeServe is not a scam," wrote Myles Meehan, SVP Account Management, in an email response following an inquiry made by the Daily Iowegian. "HomeServe currently protects over 1 million homeowners across the U.S. from those unexpected repairs not covered by typical home insurance plans or by local utility service."

The direct mail letter informs the homeowner that their "property is not covered by Water Service Line Coverage from HomeServe. As a homeowner, you are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the water service line from your service connection to the foundation of your home."

The letter's payment stub asks for credit or debit card information or they will accept a personal check or money order. For $59.88 per year the homeowner receives up to $6,000 in annual water service line coverage.

The letter offering water service line insurance caught Centerville residents off guard.

One city official said several residents brought the letter to City Hall when they came in to pay their water bill. They were told to ignore the letter and throw it away or the city offered to shred it for them.

"As far as we're concerned it's fraudulent," City Hall official Joyce Davis said earlier this week. "I don't know where they got their mailing list. I don't know how it came about. But we had nothing to do with it."

Davis said residents started approaching the city with the letter toward the first of February.

Apparently the same offer was mailed to Ottumwa residents. The Ottumwa Courier reported earlier this month that city officials said Ottumwa Water and Hydro is not connected to letters received by residents about water line warranties.

The city's press release stopped short of calling the offer a scam. Officials said the city does not endorse any company offering such warranties.

One woman who called the Iowegian said a lot of people received the letter and that it was causing a lot of confusion. She especially was worried the elderly would fall for the offer.

Meehan wrote in his email HomeServe USA "is the premier provider of emergency home repair service plans in the U.S.

"You should also be aware that HomeServe USA sent an informational packet to the Better Business Bureau of Nebraska, South Dakota and Southwest Iowa alerting them that this campaign would be taking place in their area," Meehan wrote in his email.

HomeServe USA website is www.homeserveusa.com.

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about the solicitation ordinance that will prevent groups or individuals from entering a roadway to solicit money. The Centerville City Council in June by a 5-0 vote passed the first reading of just such an ordinance. Public pressure and during a subsequent special meeting, the council voted 3-2 to table the ordinance. A second special meeting to discuss the solicitation ordinance is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 at City Hall. So, the question of the week is, "Do you or do you not support the ordinance to prevent solicitation of funds in city streets?"

A. I support the ordinance
B. I do not support the ordinance
C. Not sure
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