Read the fine print – it’s been a warning to consumers for years. But when the fine print is at the end of a CarShield TV commercial, it’s hard to read the tiny letters at the bottom of the screen, some visible for as little as three seconds.
The fine print says, “CarShield does not offer coverage in California.” But nonetheless, you constantly see the commercials, some short, some longer, on television in the San Diego area.
The call is for an extended car warranty, but unlike text messages and calls trying to get you to sign up, these ads use TV and feature familiar names.
Longtime Law & Order actor Ice-T is CarShield’s main selling point. The former rapper is joined by fellow celebrities like basketball player Allen Iverson and wrestler Ric Flair, touting the virtues of protecting your second most valuable asset: your car.
“They have no idea what they stand for,” says Greg Buckley in his CarShield YouTube video. His video, “How CarShield Rejects Claims” details his store’s experience with CarShield.
Buckley’s Auto Repair in Delaware has been in business for 53 years. He saw the same deluge of CarShield ads in Delaware. Buckley is upset because he found the company “will be targeting low-income seniors, people who have high-mileage vehicles.”
CarShield is affiliated with American Auto Shield LLC, which the California Department of Insurance investigated for advertising to California consumers. This investigation led American Auto Shield to cease all direct advertising in California.
But what about all those commercials on TV?
Michael Soller of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner says “the ads you saw were likely part of a multi-state ad, similar to other insurers that contain disclaimers about products not sold here. and not intended for Californians”.
The Better Business Bureau shows 3,109 complaints over the past three years. The good news is that they respond to all complaints, the bad news is that they don’t resolve all complaints. And the BBB notes that not all complaints are listed because some consumers do not want their complaints published.
A consumer whose complaint was published told the BBB: “Their advertising says they let them handle the hassle and you would have a hassle-free experience. This experience was just a hassle.
The bureau advises consumers to “use caution if considering doing business” with the company.
We reached out to Ron Kanterman, CFO of CarShield, to comment on the TV ads airing in California. Kanterman and two other CarShield employees we contacted never responded to our request.
The good news in all of this is a bill recently passed by the state legislature that will allow the department to order restitution on behalf of consumers in the state to recover unapproved warranty sales that they say “cost Californians tens of millions of dollars every year.” This means reimbursement of premiums paid, payment of denied claims and lost wages, among other penalties.