Read the fine print — that’s been a warning to consumers for years. But when the fine print is at the end of a CarShield TV ad, 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 doesn’t offer coverage in California.” But nevertheless you see the ads, some short, some longer, on television constantly in the San Diego region.
The appeal is an extended car warranty, but unlike the texts and calls trying to get you to sign up, these advertisements use television and feature familiar names.
Law & Order‘s longtime actor, Ice-T, is the leading pitch man for CarShield. The former rapper is joined by other 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 clue what they are representing,” says Greg Buckley in his YouTube video about CarShield. His video, “How CarShield rejects claims” details his shop’s experience with CarShield.
Buckley’s Auto Repair in Delaware has been in the business for 53 years. It has seen the same deluge of CarShield commercials in Delaware. Buckley is upset because he found that the company will “target elderly, low-income individuals, people who have high-mileage vehicles.”
CarShield is affiliated with American Auto Shield LLC, which California’s Department of Insurance investigated for its advertising to California consumers. That inquiry resulted in American Auto Shield ceasing any direct advertising in California.
But what about all those ads on television?
Michael Soller, with the insurance commissioner’s office, says “the ads you saw were likely part of multi-state advertising, similar to other insurers that contain disclaimers about products not sold here, and not directed at Californians.”
The Better Business Bureau shows 3,109 complaints in the past three years. The good news is they respond to all complaints, the bad news is they don’t resolve all complaints. And the BBB notes all complaints are not listed because some consumers don’t want their complaints published.
One consumer whose complaint was published told the BBB, “Their advertisement states let them deal with the hassle and you would have a hassle-free experience. This experience has been nothing but a hassle.”
The bureau advises consumers to “use caution if considering doing business” with the company.
We reached out to Ron Kanterman, chief financial officer at CarShield, for comment about the television ads running in California. Kanterman and two other CarShield employees we contacted never responded to our request.
The good news in all this is a bill recently passed by the state Legislature that will enable the department to order restitution on behalf of the state’s consumers to recover unapproved warranty sales they say “costs Californians tens of millions of dollars every year.” That means reimbursement of premiums paid, payment for denied claims and lost wages, among others penalties.