Buyer Beware: High-Pressure Extended Auto Warranties Could Cost Thousands

CHICAGO (CBS) – Car owners beware. A phone call selling you an extended warranty for auto repairs may end up costing you thousands.

Lynne Nellemann’s 2010 Mercedes had 112,000 miles on it when the original warranty expired.

Then, she got a call from Patriot Protection Shield, a company that claims its extended coverage “covers repair or replacement cost of any auto parts that fail.”

The caller offered her the gold package.

“It was described as comprehensive coverage that would cover the majority of what happened to my car,” Nellemann said.

But to get the special rate she had to pay $4,200.

“She really needed, in order to hold this for me, a credit card,” Nellemann said. “It was clear it had to be done that day.”

She was told she could cancel up to 30 days after she got the contract.

“It wasn’t in my mind a purchase. It wasn’t a signed deal until I received that contract,” she said.

However, she never received the contract.

Bank records show the company charged her credit card the next day. When she challenged the charge, Citibank finally got a copy of the contract.

CBS’ Pam Zekman: If you had seen the contract, would you have spent more than $4,000 for that warranty?

Nellemann: “I would not have purchased it. Absolutely not.”

It turns out the contract did not cover breakdowns, or repairs due to wear and tear on parts, which is a common and expensive cause on older cars.

“It’s mind-boggling sometimes. You think you buy an extended warranty or extended service contract that covers everything. It doesn’t,” Steve Bernas, of the Better Business Bureau, said. “There’s so many hidden exclusions, limitations. And sometimes you’re on the hook for it.”

Like others, Nellemann had a tough time getting a refund from Patriot or the Marathon Group – the company that administers Patriot’s service contracts.

The California Insurance Department is currently trying to revoke Marathon’s license claiming it “knowingly misrepresented” the terms of vehicle service contracts tied to a fuel additive.

Meanwhile, Zekman helped Nellemann get a refund from Marathon.

A spokesmen for Patriot and Marathon say their records show the contract was sent to Nellemann and blame her for not calling them when it didn’t arrive.

They also deny she was mislead about the terms of the contract.

As for the California case, Marathon’s attorney “very strenuously denies” the allegations.

Join The Conversation On The KDKA Facebook Page
Stay Up To Date, Follow KDKA On Twitter

Watch & Listen LIVE