I tracked my factory warranty call!
Today I did it! I tracked down the factory warranty call!
It’s Automotive Warranty Protection Services, aka National Dealers Warranty Inc., of St. Peters, Missouri.
A call today led me down a path of research that turned up the company’s name and details of legal action for shady practices going back years that include the use of illegal telemarketing calls like the ones I and everyone else seem to be getting.
The company was even sued by the Missouri State Attorney General last year. They settled for a moderate sum and a requirement that the company never use illegal automated calls again. Well I got a call from them today, so they appear to be continuing the practice in violation of this settlement, not to mention federal law.
[Note, this is not US Fidelis, a different warranty services company mentioned on many blogs as being behind the calls. (not saying they don’t do it themselves, but it’s not the one I tracked down today). There was also a report on NBC’s Today program about US Fidelis, as well as two investigative stories about its founder in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.]
Here’s exactly what happened today:
I got the robocall this afternoon on my cell phone (which is illegal, according to the consumer protection act).
Here’s how it went and the research it led me to:
I get the call: “This is the second notice…”
I wait until the message gets to the part with the numbers.
I press 1 to speak to a representative.
This time I take a different tactic:
Them: What’s the make and model of your vehicle?”
Me: I’m just curious about the price.
Them: Well I can connect you with a representative if you give me your vehicle information?
Me: What’s this company?
Them: Warranty Services
Me: What’s your name?
Me: What kind of service do you offer?
Angie: Vehicles fail after your warranty expires. We sell new warranties.
Me: Okay, transfer me to a representative.
Angie: Give me the make and model of your car.
Me: Okay, it’s a 1995 VW Jetta
Angie: Standby sir.
Angie: Okay sir, I have Justin on the line, he will speak to you about the warranty.
Justin: Hi sir, so you have a 1995 VW Jetta. What’s the mileage?
Me: I’m not sure. What kind of service do you provide?
Justin: We can get you a warranty with a 20% discount. It’s called The Choice Protection.
Me: Okay, what do I need to do?
Justin: Tell me the mileage of your car.
Me: I don’t know. Can I call you back?
Justin: I can hold while you get it.
Me: Oh, my car’s not here. I’ll have to call you back in 5 minutes.
Justin: I can call you back in 5 minutes.
Me: Actually, my cell phone battery is dying. I’ll have to call you.
Justin: Tell me the other number.
Me: I don’t know what it is yet.
Justin: Okay, here’s the number. 1-800-913-4558, extension 2114.
Me: Thank you.
I hang up. I dial the number. I hear a voice saying something about auto warranties, Derek speaking.
I hang up. I google the number. It leads to this site: www.autowps.com, which is for a company called Automotive Warranty Protection Services
I lookup the domain, autowps.com on Domain White Pages and it shows the site registered to this company: National Dealers Warranty Inc.
According to the St. Louis Better Business Bureau, National Dealers Warranty settled a lawsuit that was filed by the Attorney General of Missouri on March 6, 2008. The settlement included a financial penalty, but required changes in how the company conducts business, including this:
“Offering to sell motor vehicle extended service contracts through the use of automated telemarketing calls unless such calls are administered in full compliance with laws including, but not limited to, Do Not Call regulations and laws at the state and national level.”
Canadian authorities took legal action against this company earlier this year (related article). The Superintendant of Financial Institutions in British Columbia directed National Dealers Warranty and its management to cease operations there (PDF of the order).
The St. Louis Better Business Bureau, which gives the company an “F” rating, states that people who complained about National Dealers Warranty allege the company “provided poor customer service, used high pressure sales tactics, failed to provide refunds, failed or refused to cancel policies, misrepresented coverage or used misleading advertising.”
The president of National Dealers Warranty is Rudge Gilman.
Here are other names of the company, listed by the BBB and the AG’s office:
Mark Travis – Vice President
Nick Hamilton – Secretary
The BBB also lists Steve Proetz as involved with National Dealers Warranty and he is listed as a co-owner of Automotive Warranty Protection, which I was transferred to by “Angie” when I got the call today and when I was transferred to “Justin”, who appears to be a representativefor that company.
Also, the administrative contact listed on the WhoIs domain search was someone named Travis Summers. I called the number listed for Travis and left a message. He immediately called me back and I asked him if his company engaged in automated dialing. Here’s what he said:
“We used to do it, we haven’t in a month a half. It’s not paying off…it’s more hassle than it’s worth.”
I got an automated “robocall” today that I linked to the same company. They are still doing it.
Here are additional Phone Numbers for National Dealers Warranty listed by the BBB:
Tel: (800) 436-3185
Tel: (800) 485-1134
Tel: (800) 774-0041
Tel: (800) 701-1063
This was just one call that I got today. It was of a very similar nature to the dozens of calls I have been getting at work at home and on my cell phone since before last December. It is also of a similar nature to all the calls reported online and in the media.
This call alone is a violation of the law because it was an automated call made to a cell phone. That law is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, which is administered by the FCC and the FTC (pdf link to the TCPA).
The FCC also lists facts for consumers about the act, which details the many ways in which these calls violate this law. Among them I found this:
“Some states permit you to file law suits in state court against persons or entities violating the do-not-call rules. You may be awarded $500 in damages or actual monetary loss, whichever is greater. The amount may be tripled if you are able to show that the caller violated the rules willfully and knowingly. Filing a complaint with the FCwC does not prevent you from also bringing a suit in state court”
I think I’ll be looking into what laws New York State permits. $500?