Pivotal Home Solutions Runaround

Our local gas & electric utility used to have a pretty good in-house home maintenance plan. Then they decided to outsource it to an out-of-state company called Pivotal Home Solutions. Since then, their service has been piss-poor.

I was changing out the filter from our furnace and decided to inspect the burners. Unfortunately, this wasn’t possible because the access panel could not be removed since the screws had eroded. (The screws just spun and spun when turned.) I called PHS to report the problem and told them I noticed rust and a small leak near the edge of the access panel.

  • “I’m pretty sure there’s a water leak inside and that’s what caused the screws to erode. But I can’t confirm that because the screws won’t come off.”
  • “We don’t cover rust.”
  • “I understand that you don’t cover rust damage, but you must surely cover the water leak inside, no?”
  • “Well, if you can’t see the water leak inside then I’m not authorized to send someone out to fix it.”

It took a while to explain to the agent that I was positive there was a water leak inside because I could see a small amount of seepage from the corner of the panel, even though I was unable to remove the panel. Clearly a chicken-and-egg problem with how they diagnose issues!

Finally, they agreed to send someone over. A tech from a local shop called Platinum Home Services came over, spent 5 minutes trying to turn the screw before giving up and saying there was nothing he could do. I asked him if he could cut the screw off and he said no, I’d have to do it. So I immediately got down and attempted to do this myself with my Dremel, but he wouldn’t wait around. In 10 minutes, I chopped the screw off and called him back, but he was already on his way to another call and wouldn’t return, so I had to make another appointment.

In the meantime, I was able to confirm that there was a leak inside the furnace and water had pooled under the burners. I cleaned up what I could and waited for my next appointment.

When the same tech returned and I showed him the problem, he said, “Oh, the water is leaking from the heat exchanger. That component isn’t covered by your plan.” Okay… I asked him whether there was anything he could do to alleviate the problem, like seal the damn leak. “No, you’ll just have to get a new furnace.” Okay… Seems a bit extreme, I thought. After 5 minutes he left again.

Long story short, I did find multiple YouTube videos showing how this is a common problem with aging furnaces and the leaks can be stopped with high-temperature sealant. Did the trick, no more leaks!

In hindsight, I should’ve gone straight to YouTube and saved myself multiple phone calls and waiting around for useless appointments. What a waste!

T-Mobile Hidden Charges

My wife needed a new iPhone, so I called a local T-Mobile store and inquired if they had any iPhone 13 Mini’s in stock. They said they did and would put one aside for me. They told me the price and said that we could get a $200 trade-in on our old phone. I agreed and my wife went to the store. The employee transferred her info from her old phone, took it, and sold her the new phone plus a power adapter. When checking out, the bill was almost $100 so she asked why it was so high and he said, “Taxes plus the power adapter”, and walked away. When she got home and I looked at the receipt, there was a bogus $30 “upgrade support charge” line item on the receipt. Not only did no one ever mention this charge up front, but even when the clerk was questioned at the end, he simply called it a “tax”. It is not a tax, it is a fee. Moreover, it’s a fee that was not disclosed upfront, making it a scam. I am less concerned about the $30 than the numerous people who are being scammed by this undisclosed “fee”. Furthermore, misrepresenting fees as taxes is surely frowned upon by the state.