Beware: Misleading Mailers Scaring Residents into Paying Up
Numerous residents have raised concern about a misleading mailer that has been sent to West U homes regarding “water service line responsibility in the Houston area.”
Residents have received several mailers from a company called “HomeServe,” which claims to be a “City of Houston Registered Private Repair Management Company.” The mailers encourage residents to pay for an insurance service to protect homeowners against water service line repairs.
“The City of Houston Department of Public Works and Engineering Department wants its water customers to know that they are responsible for the water service line on their property. If a leak of break occurs, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to arrange and pay for repairs,” the mailer states. “For this reason, HomeServe, a City of Houston registered repair management company, has developed Water Service Line Coverage to manage the cost and inconvenience of an exterior water line emergency.”
One of the mailers resembles a bill, and includes a tear off portion on the bottom for payment. Residents are urged by HomeServe to complete the form and send it in with payment by July 23, 2013.
InstantNewsWestU.com contacted the City of Houston regarding these mailers and will update this story with their response.
The City of West U has received several calls from residents and seniors expressing concerns about the mailers.
The the city has issued a statement saying that the city “does not recommend or endorse” the company.
“Some of you have reported receiving solicitations in the mail regarding an insurance service for your private home water lines. This is from one of several companies that offer this service. Albeit the decision is ultimately that of each individual property owner; the City does not recommend or endorse any company involved in this or any other service provider,” West U Public Works Director Chris Peifer said in a statement. “It is however suggested that you look carefully at the service offer at a cost, your availability of funds in the event of a private line failure and the age of your service lines. Further note that a private service line typically has an estimated useful life in excess of 20 years.”
According to ConsumerReports.org, HomeServe’s mailings “looked too much like utility bills and misled consumers about repair costs.”
West U residents receive their water bills and water notices from the City of West U and would not have any reason to receive water notices from the City of Houston, Peifer said.