SOS may have been born yesterday, but it stayed up all night studying.

Here's a lesson:

In the Frequently Asked Questions of a car warranty company, EFG Companies/Premier Xtend/Omnisure/Autoplex Extended Services, the question asked is, "What if I want to cancel my warranty?"

The answer is: "Your contract contains full details on refunds. You have the right to cancel your warranty at anytime for a pro-rated refund on the unused portion of your warranty. If you cancel in the first 30 or 60 days, you are entitled to a full refund."

That's the company answer.

Here's the real answer, provided by Gail Kempfer, Autoplex customer, of DeForest: "We'll delay responding to your three letters of cancellation for more than four months so we can get your premiums from those months."

Kempfer bought a 2004 truck for her daughter, and when the dealer warranty ran out in November, a salesman from Autoplex called to beg her to renew, telling her (she said), the 87,000 mileage was a problem "we can get around." She paid $395 to begin with, then $199 a month for the extended warranty, for a total cost of $2,793 for the year.

But when the drive shaft needed to be repaired, the warranty company said it wouldn't pay because there were too many miles on the truck. Since the policy was useless, she tried to cancel, and her requests in writing were ignored for four months, while the premiums continued to be charged to her credit card.

SOS stepped in after Kempfer provided details of the useless extended warranty, copies of her February, March and April letters requesting cancellation and refund. This was more complex than it appeared, as there were different companies involved with every level of transaction, from the sale to the billing to the repairs. One thing was consistent: They had no trouble taking her money, monthly.

The repair to the truck wasn't covered, and in fact no repair was covered, because the truck had 90,000 miles on it and the policy she was sold said the truck had 60,000 miles. (That, apparently, was how the salesman "got around" that little mileage problem.)

SOS in late June contacted three companies, and in a circle of calls, ended up, predictably, at Autoplex, where the calls started. After a few go arounds, a fellow named Corey referred SOS to a fellow named Peter, who said well, that policy was canceled May 7 and the refund should have been credited within 10 days to Kempfer's account. He agreed Kempfer had been sold a policy that was unacceptable for her vehicle, but he blamed Kempfer.

Kempfer checked her accounts, but there were no credits.

SOS persisted, and on July 2 contacted Autoplex again. This time, a fellow named John checked Kempfer's file and reported her policy had been canceled June 20 and a credit made to her MasterCard account. Probably not a coincidence that June 20 was when SOS contacted Autoplex and was told the policy was canceled in May. Kempfer is still waiting for the credit to show up.

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