OAG 2017 Annual Report
Every day over the past three years, my colleagues and I have worked hard to establish an independent Office of the Attorney General (OAG) that zealously represents the interests of the District and is responsive to the needs of our city’s most vulnerable residents. After listening to the needs of District residents, we have prioritized issues such as preserving affordable housing, employing evidence-based juvenile justice reforms, protecting consumers, and safeguarding public integrity.
Our new annual report—In the Public Interest—highlights some of the major advances we’ve made over the past year in reaching these goals, including:
- Establishing the Public Advocacy Division: OAG launched a new Public Advocacy Division to amplify and expand our existing work to protect tenants, workers, and our residents’ values. This division is now more than 15 attorneys strong and has secured several wins that hold neglectful landlords accountable, return money to workers exploited by their employers, and fight federal overreach from the Trump administration.
- Setting Youth Up for Success and Enhancing Public Safety: OAG doubled down on strategies that reduce recidivism, increase public safety, and help our young people stay on track. To date, more than 1,800 youth have been diverted to the Alternatives to the Court Experience Program for rehabilitative services, and 78 percent of those youth have not been rearrested. OAG also expanded existing programs like Restorative Justice Conferencing, which brings crime perpetrators and victims together in conversation to hold offenders accountable, empower victims, and repair the harm caused by crime, and launched new programs like “I Belong Here” designed to combat truancy.
- Protecting Consumers: Our Office of Consumer Protection has secured more than $118 million in restitution for consumers and recoveries for the District in its first three years. This year the Office held companies accountable for data breaches due to negligence, stopped scammers that prey on immigrant communities, and helped grieving families obtain justice from a funeral home that broke the law.
I am proud of these and the many other accomplishments over the past year, and I hope that in reading this report you will learn more about what OAG does and how it can work for you. Whether it is using our educational materials to avoid a new scam or finding out how to report instances of wage theft, I want you to know how to access OAG services designed to help you.
Karl A. Racine
Table of Contents
You are receiving mailings or phone calls offering you a home warranty that will “eliminate all of your worries” about maintaining your home. Are they worth it? Every year, one of the most frequent complaints consumers make is about home warranty companies. These companies often promise a lot, but deliver very little. How can you tell whether it makes sense to purchase a home warranty? Below are tips you can follow to determine whether it really makes sense for you to purchase a warranty for your home.
What is a Home Warranty?
A home warranty is a one-year service agreement that covers the repair or replacement of some home system and appliances.
- Home warranties are not insurance policies, they are service contracts. These are agreements for the company to pay for the repair, and possibly replacement, of specified items in your home.
- A basic home warranty can be expensive, costing $500 per year or more.
What items does a Home Warranty cover?
Home warranties probably do not cover as much as you may think they do.
- Home warranties can have limited coverage, and might exclude kitchen appliances, water heaters, plumbing, furnaces, and other major appliances. Often consumers must make additional payments for coverage of such big-ticket items. Most home warranties do not cover structural defects, well pumps, septic tanks, or other home systems.
- Warranties generally do not cover more expensive repairs, such as roofs, leaky windows, or chimney repairs.
What kinds of repairs and replacements does a Home Warranty's cover?
The repairs that a home warranty excludes from coverage are often more detailed than what they actually cover.
- It may only repair, rather than replace, broken items.
- Many contracts limit replacements to a specific brand and do not allow you to use the contractor of your choice.
- Home warranties can also contain numerous other exclusions, such as repairs to problems caused by wear and tear, natural disasters, manufacturer defects, or failing to perform manufacturers’ recommendations for maintenance.
- Warranty companies often require you to take multiple steps before they agree to make a repair.
What are the downsides of obtaining repairs under Home Warranties?
Home warranties often do not deliver everything that those selling them may promise.
- They have claim caps. For example, you may only get $1,600 to replace a $12,000 boiler. There also may be a deductible (an amount you must first pay before the home warranty company will pay your claim).
- You may have trouble connecting with the company and getting a contractor out to your home. This time delay could cost you money or hardship. The delay also may lead you to find your own contractor and pay out of pocket. Other companies may charge you a service fee, typically $75 or more, each time you need a repair.
- You do not get to choose your own contractor. Homeowners often complain about the quality of service from warranty companies or attempts by contractors selected by warranty companies to upcharge the homeowners.
- The warranty company may not guarantee all of the work performed by its contractors. For instance, if a contractor messes up the venting of your dryer while fixing a gas leak in the dryer, the warranty company may not pay to fix the venting.
- Many of the repairs covered are not expensive and may cost less than the amount you pay for the home warranty.
- Home warranty contracts often force customers to go to arbitration rather than court when the homeowner has a dispute with the company. Arbitration may not be the best forum for resolving your complaint.
How do you avoid being scammed by a Home Warranty Company?
Companies sell home warranties because they know that, more often than not, they will make more on the warranty than they will have to pay out. Before purchasing any home warranty, you should do the following:
- Read contracts carefully to make sure you know what is covered and -- more importantly -- what is not covered. Don’t rely solely on what a salesperson tells you about the warranty.
- Beware of exaggerated claims, such as the claim that your warranty is "comprehensive" or claims that warranties are like insurance.
- Check with friends and neighbors to see if they have had any experience with the company.
- Check with the D.C. Office of the Attorney General (202-442-9828) or the Better Business Bureau to see if the home warranty company has had complaints lodged against it.
- Ask yourself: is the cost of coverage really worth it?
Still considering purchasing a Home Warranty?
- Check to see if your appliances are already covered under a manufacturer’s warranty, builder’s warranty, or by your credit card, which may offer extended protection.
- When considering whether a home warranty is a good financial fit, compare the age of each item covered by a home warranty with the item’s average life span. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors offers a helpful chart: https://www.nachi.org/life-expectancy.htm
- If you are considering purchasing a home warranty, research the company using sources such as:
- The District of Columbia Attorney General’s Office of Consumer protection: call (202) 442-9828, email firstname.lastname@example.org, submit a Consumer Complaint Form at https://oag.dc.gov/service/submit-consumer-complaint, or write to the Office of Consumer Protection at the Office of the Attorney General. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org.
Office of the Attorney General's Procurement Rules
The Juvenile Section prosecutes juveniles (individuals under the age of 18) for criminal offenses that occur in the District of Columbia. The United States Attorney’s Office prosecutes selected juveniles in the adult system from a small statutory list of certain serious offenses. In addition to violations of criminal statutes, the Juvenile Section also handles cases involving offenses that can only be committed by a juvenile, for example, truancy and runaway offenses, through the PINS (Person in Need of Supervision) program. The section also prosecutes adults who are responsible for the truancy of their children. Prosecutors in the Juvenile Section work with law enforcement agencies throughout the city, including the Metropolitan Police Department, the United States Park Police, the Metro Transit Police Department, and United States Capitol Police. Juvenile Section attorneys strive to balance the need to protect the community’s safety with the need to rehabilitate juvenile respondents. Our office’s goal is to protect the citizens of the District of Columbia by prosecuting juveniles charged with delinquent acts while seeking to rehabilitate the juvenile offenders and to advocate for victims to ensure their rights are protected.
Victim rights and services are of utmost concern for Juvenile prosecutors. Victims and Eye Witnesses are essential to the prosecution of juvenile’s charged with delinquent acts, as they provide information necessary for trials and case resolutions. In addition to testimony at trial, victims provide valuable information in the rehabilitative process through their victim impact statements. Prosecutors coordinate with the Victim Witness Specialists, who are also members of the Public Safety Division, to assist victims throughout the life of a case. Juvenile prosecutors also work with other city agencies on the unique challenges that face juvenile prosecution and work to develop and to implement effective measures to safeguard the community and to rehabilitate youthful offenders.
The Juvenile Section participates in numerous multi-agency task forces, including but not limited to:
- Human Trafficking Task Force
- Juvenile Competency Task Force
- Gallery Place China Town Task Force
- Forensic Science Task Force
Members of the Juvenile Section attend community meetings, such as Police Service Area meetings and Advisory Neighborhood Commissions meetings.
- ACE Diversion Program
- District of Columbia Superior Court (DCSC)
- United States Attorney’s Office (USAO)
- Department of Mental Health (Access Help Line)
- Crime Victims Compensation Office
- Metropolitan Police Department, Districts and Commanders
- Neighborhood and Victim Services Section, Office of the Attorney General
2013 NHTSA ARIDE Manual
General Contact Information
Phone: (202) 727-3400
Fax: (202) 347-8922
TTY: (202) 727-3400
441 4th Street NW
Suite 1100 South
Washington, D.C. 20001
Reporters and producers with urgent after-hours or weekend requests: Call (202) 689-7499 or (202) 341-8249.
Additional Ways to Connect with OAG
Talk with our Community Engagement Team
Have questions or feedback for the Office of the Attorney General?
We want to hear from you! Share your concerns with our Community Engagement Team and learn how to access OAG services by calling (202) 724-5487.
Submit a Consumer Complaint
Are you a victim of a scam?
Our office can help investigate, mediate, and, if necessary, bring enforcement actions to protect consumers. Contact our Office of Consumer Protection at (202) 442-9828 or by emailing email@example.com.
Protect Yourself Against Scams
Want to learn warning signs for common scams and how to protect yourself?
Visit our Consumer Protection Library at oag.dc.gov/consumerprotection.
Access Child Support Resources
Have questions about collecting child support or need help getting back on track to paying child support?
Call our Customer Care Team at (202) 442-9900.
Learn Your Rights as a Tenant
Have a neglectful or abusive landlord and want to know your rights?
Learn about your tenant rights and how OAG can help at oag.dc.gov/tenantrights.
Learn Your Rights as a Worker
Have questions about your wage rights or think you are the victim of wage theft?
Learn about your right to fair wages, overtime pay, and sick and safe leave at oag.dc.gov/wagerights.
Work with OAG
Want to work with a committed team of professionals that use the law to defend the District and promote the public interest?
Browse OAG job vacancies at oag.dc.gov/careers.
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2013 NHTSA SFST Manual