Elderly Oakland couple hit with huge unwarranted bill

December 30, 2009 7:07:33 PM PST
An elderly Oakland couple received a big bill for something they did not remember ordering. The bill totaled $1,820 and that is nothing to sneeze at, especially if you are retired and living on a fixed income.

82-year-old Charles Wagner takes good care of his 2000 Saturn. Last year, the Oakland man purchased an extended car warranty after receiving a sales call. He successfully cancelled it, but a year later his wife received a car warranty package and a bill on her credit statement.

"When I looked at the statement and saw it, I didn't even remember," Pinkie Wagner told ABC7. "I said, 'What is this? A warranty?' I just said, 'We don't have that and we don't want that.'"

The charge was for $1,820, all for a car warranty, one the couple said it could not afford.

"We've got to live. So, we have to have money to live on," Charles Wagner said.

Dr. Erika Falk is with the Institute on Aging. She says seniors, especially, need to be wary of sales calls.

"In many ways, if you don't call someone for a service, you shouldn't be expecting them to call you. This is one of the instances where it's okay to be rude," she said.

She encourages the elderly to have someone they trust watching out for them, even when they are healthy.

"So, the best way to protect yourself is to make plans for more than one person to be checking the accounts and for arrangements to happen when someone is sick or incapacitated," she added.

The Wagners asked their daughter Cheryl Wagner for help. She says American Warranty Services refused to rescind the charge, saying they waited too long to cancel the order.

"I felt they were violated. I felt they were taken advantage of. I was very upset," she said.

7 on Your Side contacted Consumer Direct Warranty Services, the company that administers the plan for American Warranty Services. Within one week, the company agreed to reverse the charge. The company said by phone, "We satisfied the customer's request for a full refund."

Beyond that, it had no comment. But, the Wagners had plenty to say.

"Thank God. Stay on your job, 7 on Your Side," Pinkie Wagner said. "We love you. I shouted it. I cried. I tell you, it's a good feeling."


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