.

Instruct Elderly Regarding Needless Add-ons

Sometimes a service tech can be a salesman in disguise. Seniors need to be ready to defend their wallets.

It was a couple of years ago. My mother, who lives a few minutes away called me because she had a technician from a local air-conditioning company at her house. He had been there to tune up her air conditioning system but in the process had discovered that “she needed a whole new system” at a projected cost of more than $4,000, and he wanted her to agree to it right then. I told her I’d be right over.

Every fiber in my being told me that somebody was trying to rip her off. They thought an 80-year-old widow was an easy mark. When I arrived, the hapless tech tried to explain to me that a five-year old compressor and condenser unit (the part that sits outside) was old and shot. I sent him on his way. What was true was that the system needed an $11 capacitor in the air handler (inside the house) so that the fan would start reliably. I ordered one online and installed it. The system has been good ever since.

Reaching for the upsell is a time-honored tradition for salespeople. But this salesperson was masquerading as a technician who my mother could trust to give her a reasonably impartial opinion about her system and what it needed. She did not in any way expect that he would pressure her to spend $4,000 on the spot. And, if I hadn’t gone right over, it’s quite possible she would have. I contemplated calling one agency or another and reporting the situation for quite a while, but eventually the matter slid off the back of my agenda of pressing issues. I wish it hadn’t.

Nobody wants to see each and every visit by a tradesman to an elderly person’s house put under a microscope. But Florida does have strong legal protections for seniors. Section 825.103 of Florida Statutes makes it a crime to use a position of trust to deprive a senior of money or property. Florida has several toll-free numbers when a senior needs help. One is 1-800-963-5337.

All Floridians deserve to be free from financial predators masquerading as their friends. Whether it’s insurance, auto repairs, tradespeople around the home, or high-pressure phone sales of vacation schemes, potions and lotions or even long-term care facilities, elderly Floridians are the most vulnerable population. Properly armed with information, seniors themselves can weed out most of the hucksters. But it’s also important for a senior to have a trusted friend or relative who can get between them and a potential advantage taker at a moment’s notice.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Carla Gormley - ASAP February 17, 2012 at 03:58 PM
This is terrific information, Thanks for posting!
Mark S. Hankins August 24, 2012 at 02:35 PM
"A timely undercover investigation of air conditioning repair contractors couldn't find a single honest repairman after a half dozen of them showed up, one by one, at a staged home on a televised sting of the swindlers." http://realtytimes.com/rtpages/20120719_accontractors.htm

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »