Columbia-based warranty company shuts down abruptly upsetting customers

COLUMBIA, Md. - They're the company you paid to ensure that when your dishwasher went on the fritz, you'd be covered.  But what happens to customers of a Columbia-based warranty business now that they've closed up shop?

People, not only here in Maryland, but in many other parts of the country spent hundreds on warranties with American Fidelity Services to cover their appliances.  But the company abruptly closed, leaving many out cash and in need of service.

Customers looking to contact the company will now find a message on the website for American Fidelity.  It is dated August 14 th and says, "Due to economic hardships and other factors, American Fidelity Home Warranty is forced to close its doors, effective immediately.  It is with sincere regret that we have come to this final conclusion and cannot continue to service our clients to the standard at which we have been entrusted over the past years."

American Fidelity, which opened in Howard County in 2007, has had recent trouble.  In late June, the company was hit with an order from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, told to "cease and desist from engaging in the unauthorized and unlicensed business of a home warranty association in the state of Florida."

Here in Maryland, in late spring, the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland says, 29 complaints about the company in just two months, with many saying the warranties they paid for weren't being honored.  Jody Thomas with the BBB says, "It's awful and there was really no warning sign.  This is a company that had been in the community, was doing business, had a good BBB record.  But all of a sudden complaints started spiking."

The Maryland Attorney General's office has logged four complaints in the last month and a half.  Consumers who've gone to the agency echo complaints the BBB has heard, with people upset that American Fidelity hasn't been honoring its warranties.

Thomas says if you bought a warranty from this company, you should file a complaint with the Attorney General's office and the BBB.  She explains that if you got the warranty in the last 60 days and paid by credit card, you should try and dispute the charges.

ABC2 tried contacting American Fidelity through their website but did not hear back.

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