The following letter was sent as indicated:

15 October 1998

Ben Crumley Chief Executive Officer Vehicle Protection Plus LLC PO Box 1039 Bedford TX 76095
Dear Mr. Crumley:
I am the owner of contract VC11-831971, dated 5 September 1998, sold under the trade name of "TechServ". It appears that "Tech" is an abbreviation for "technicality".
On the 13th of October, someone in your organization - or at the appropriate level at Warrantech - apparently decided that an idle air auxiliary control wasn't an exact match for any of the parts listed as covered under Tech 1 and Tech 2, and opted to fall back upon Exclusion A, which says, in effect, "If we didn't think of it, it isn't covered." I duly read the pertinent paragraph once more, and it occurs to me that the excluded parts fall into two general categories: things which are subject to normal wear and tear (shocks, clutch discs, weatherstripping), or things which aren't essential to actual transport (cell phones, carpeting). I would be most interested to hear which of these two categories is more appropriate for the part in question. The most plausible matchup might be with the specifically-excluded "emission systems", though the IAAC's relationship to emissions seems to be more related to legal requirements than to automotive ones.
Of course, it is in your best interest to avoid paying claims wherever possible, and I acknowledge this as a primary goal of the organization, but it seems logical to me that while issuing a denial did in fact save you approximately $600, it also made the perceived value of the product diminish substantially - perhaps to the point where it is no longer worth my while, in which case you will have to fork over close to $900, rather sooner than you might have anticipated, for a cancelled contract. (Speaking of "sooner", be grateful I live in the state of Oklahoma, which for reasons known but to the poltroons who run the state government, will allow you to keep ten percent of the proceeds.)
While I don't expect one of your representatives to come dashing over here in the dead of night, check in hand - though expect him to be welcomed gratefully if he does - I would appreciate an explanation of the denial process as it applies to this particular contract. Good health to you and yours - unless, of course, you belong to an HMO, in which case any such wishes must be approved by the Administrator.
Yours sincerely, (signed) Charles G. Hill
cc: Joel San Antonio, Warrantech cc: Dwight Powers, Powers Auto Group cc: Randy Evers, J.D.

Warrantech responded as follows:

November 16, 1998

Dear Mr. Hill:
I am in receipt of your October 15th letter to Mr. Joel San Antonio. I have also spoken to Mr. Crumley. They have asked me to research your inquiry and respond to you.
Your statement, "If we didn't think of it, it isn't covered", is not at all indicative of how the contract was written nor how it was administered. The contract states specifically that those parts listed under the schedule of coverage are what is covered. The exclusion section states that there is no coverage for any part not listed in the schedule of coverage.
There has been no attempt to mislead in any way. There is actuarial data for each part listed and the premium charged for the contract is figured based on which parts are covered. The specific parts listed in each plan are chosen in an effort to give the consumer affordable yet comprehensive coverage choices. These choices range from basic powertrain coverage up through the Tech 4 coverage which does cover every part on the car except those specifically excluded.
I am sorry we were unable to assist you with this repair, but please rest assured that you have purchased one of the most extensive plans available and we hope to be able to help you should you experience any further breakdowns.
Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions.
Sincerely yours, (signed) Ken Walton Sr. Vice President/Service
cc: Ben Crumley

I will resist the urge to respond: "Dear Mr Walton: You misspelled 'expensive'."

Also this week, I had a telephone conversation with Mr Crumley himself, who comes across, at least on the phone, as that cherishable American icon, the genial Texan — he even pronounces "bidness" in the canonical Lone Star fashion. He was sympathetic, but rules are rules, and so on and so forth, so I was perhaps less than thrilled that he seemed to admire my writing style.

Presumably, this ends here. If there's a lesson in this experience for anyone, it's Read the Fine Print. In fairness to this particular warranty provider, their print really isn't all that fine; I can actually read it without glasses. And if some major system like the transaxle decides to go south on me, I am apparently covered — Mr Crumley was anxious to assure me that the firm does pay up on transmissions. Further, an impromptu survey of my co-workers reveals a majority of buyers aren't at all dissatisfied with their third-party warranties. Still, I would suggest to those considering the purchase of one of these plans that they spend more than the six and a half minutes I did reading it over — no matter how much of a rush the dealership is in — and to remember that these guys aren't in business to lose money.

The Vent

15 October 1998

Updated 18 November 1998

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 Copyright © 1998 by Charles G. Hill