The extended warranty scam continues: this time masquerading as legitimate company, Motor Vehicle Services

Three months after receiving an ‘expiring warranty’ mailer from Automotive Professional Services, here comes another one. It looks nearly identical to the previous mailer, only with a few edits: the name in the upper left hand corner and a different toll free phone number (800-639-9440 listed on the previous mailer; 855-292-6947 on this one). Oh, and apparently this is my FINAL NOTICE. We’ll see.

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Just as with Automotive Professional Services (which, apparently, is their REAL name), I figured that this mailer was spoofing the name of a legitimate company. I found Motor Vehicle Services‘s website and gave them a call. My suspicions were correct. I was told that they are no longer providing new auto warranties, that they are focusing on home protection plans. They are only servicing existing automotive warranties until those warranties eventually expire through attrition. According to the person I spoke with from Motor Vehicle Service’s sales department, to her knowledge, the company does not hire outside telemarketers to promote their products. Hmmm…

So, naturally, I had to give the fake ‘Motor Vehicle Services’ a call. Unlike with Automotive Professional Services, I got a customer service representative with a calmer mien. ‘Brian’ informed me that I was calling an “activation center” called “Guardian.” When I asked if they were affiliated with Guardian Insurance, he seemed just a tad nonplussed. In fact, he never gave me the FULL name of the company he worked for, which, after a search, must be American Guardian Warranty Services, Inc. (not to be confused with Guardian Products, a furniture and mattress warranty company). According to Brian, Guardian serves as a “broker” for many different automotive warranty companies, depending upon where the vehicle and its owner is located. Then I asked about ‘Motor Vehicle Services’ in the upper left corner of the mailer. Brian told me that this is merely a “division” within the activation company. Hah! So, then would ‘Automotive Professional Services’ be a division of the ‘activation’ company who sent me the previous mailer? When I posited this to Brian, he shifted quickly into telemarketer script mode and asked, “So, are you interested in buying an extended warranty?” To which I replied, “Nope. I already have one. But at least you calmly answered my questions.” Then he mumbled something about my “having a nice day” and abruptly hung up.

I believe that I drove poor Brian off script and he became flustered, stitching together a spiel as best he could. I mean, how many third parties do you need to sell an automotive extended warranty? I’m thinking American Guardian Warranty Services (AGWS) is both the activation center and warranty administrator. Unless, of course, Brian actually works for a call center contracted by AGWS to send out these bogus mailers. And if, for certain, AGWS is behind this particular mailer; which, by the way, has a bulk mailer stamp originating from Collinsville, IL which is where Automotive Professional Services’s boiler room is located; in fact, AGWS is located in Glen Ellyn, IL:

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So, since I couldn’t get any more information from Brian about the call center boiler room he’s working in, and left with the only name I could find linked to this operation, I focused on American Guardian Warranty Services. I found no glowing endorsements of the company or the services it provides. A simple Google search reveals a whole lot of OMG dating back to 2005. Perusing a page on from 2011 – 2012 shows how AGWS’s PR team must scour the internets looking for bad publicity, then posts an ‘official’ (and hopefully placating) statement about how they pride themselves on their integrity yadda yadda yadda. Then, of course, there’s the post immediately beneath it by a ‘happy’ AGWS customer, wagging a virtual finger at all the naysayers. They probably hire people via crowdsourcing companies, paying them pennies to defend the company’s ‘honor’ against negative posts.

The bottom line: Always, ALWAYS check your vehicle warranty records when you receive these mailers or phone calls. If you must purchase (or renew) an extended warranty, err on the side of caution and visit your dealer first. Or call several vehicle warranty companies and THOROUGHLY research their plans. If you have grill them, do it; if they want your business, they’ll have to WORK for it and be HONEST about what they’re offering you for YOUR money. Personally, I would never trust any company sending me mailers attempting to scare the crap out of me in a falsely “official” way. Those are the tactics of a scam artist, whether or not the product or service itself is a scam. Period.

UPDATE (April 2014) : More recent information regarding Motor Vehicle Services and their questionable marketing practices can be found here.