Padded nonsense and overblown prices from contractors/repairmen is a super common one whenever you have one that's not ethical and thinks they can get away with it. Have an accent? They think they can pull the wool over your eyes. Elderly, with a deceased partner that used to handle such matters, like the situation you described that's juicy for them. Lone barely 5 foot women. Easy pickings. Had a toilet flange that needed replacing about a month ago. Called the 'highest reviewed' company in my local area. Dude came out, saw that I couldn't even lift the toilet nevermind have any experience with piping/plumbing and quoted me $4700 to replace the 'broken line' while having to break into the 2nd floor bathroom and 1st floor ceiling. Thanked him for his kindness and said that wasn't a decision I could make myself but to please send me a quote and I'd check in with my non-existent partner. Asked around on Nextdoor, got a different guy to come out a few days later and he pulled the broken flange, put in a new one, and remounted the toilet for $200. Best thing to do is to ALWAYS get a second quote/opinion. A bit of Google foo when you think someone's trying to sell you BS also won't go remiss.


I know people are shitty and all that but I cannot believe how often the elderly are targeted. It breaks my heart. My grandpa had Alzheimers and before we knew that, he had started sending money to those "please help these orphans/veterans/whatever" spam mail. Hes been dead for 4 years and every week we still have to throw out so many of them because he was probably put on so many lists because he actually gave. He was a good man, worked hard so that his wife and 3 kids wouldnt be in poverty anymore (solidly middle class by the time I was born). I just.. it sucks




Thank you!


> See [this website](https://drowndinginmail.wordpress.com/start-here/) for info on how to stop all that mail. The writer was in a situation similar to yours. Thank you for sharing that link to the Drowning in Junk Mail blog. It's great to have a resource to share with friends who have elderly parents and want to protect them from junk mail.


I'm sorry if my sounding sexist af offends anyone, but I've told every woman in my family, heck, every woman I know, always to have a man with her if she's going to be getting or repairing anything. And the guy doesn't even have to know anything. In fact, it can be better if you're quiet. It's funny you mentioned chimneys. Maybe that's a scam that is going around lately. My old aunt had a guy come over about her chimney and he had started telling her a bunch of crap about what needed to be fixed and had even given her some cheap-looking pamphlets when I walked in. She said, "Oh, chimney guy, meet my nephew John." I said, "Hey" then took one of the pamphlets and looked at it (like I had any clue what it was about, but I pretended I did). He looked at me and I gave him a, "Really, man? I don't think so," look and he got nervous. He said, "Well, everything looks fine and I don't think you'll be needing this for years" and he took the pamphlets he had given her back and left. She has a dog and a gun, so I'm not as worried as I might be, but neither of those will protect her from being scammed.


Tbh it helps to have a man around when doing anything that requires a huge chunk of change/any repairs as a woman because sales/repair people not even just the men assume we aren’t in control or we don’t know what we want…


Fuck I even bring a male friend with me to get my oil change so that they dont go through the whole upsell spiel. It works.


I've come to find that if I make a point to let them know I'm not a pushover and know something about cars, that fixes the problem. I try to give them the most specific instructions imaginable for the most common thing and throw tons of jargon on it without sounding fake. Works every time.


Same. I once left a note so detailed abt a toilet repair that the plumber asked my mom if her daughter was a plumber. Like no, i just know what is broken!! If i was a plumber why would we be calling you? Lmao. Turns out he wasnt the best plumber but thats another story. I guess in California only one guy has to hold the license and they can oversee hundreds of employees under that license. But i digress...


That's another thing too. Not only are you able to lower the chances of getting scammed, you can also tell when someone is absolute garbage.


Yes exactly! Kind of scary how many 'experts' are out there conning people with their incompetence


Many mechanics offer oil changes at prices comparable to quick oil change places, or slightly more. I would recommend finding a trustworthy mechanic, preferably by referral, through one of your male friends. Generally, auto shops that focus on one brand or type of import (Asian or German imports) are better than "Complete/General Auto Care" places. This is more so in large cities than small towns wherea selection is limited. Otherwise, you could say, "Except for oil changes, I do all my scheduled maintenance at the dealer." Speaking of which, some dealers have oil change specials on their websites, but they may still try to upsell you. I have never taken my car to an oil change place. I've always done it myself. Zero percent chance of upsell.


When I was young and lived alone in apartments, having men come into my place to do stuff, I would put on a crazy cat lady act so they wouldn't hit on me (more than they already had).


Having a man around doesnt necessarily help if all the man does is sign off on whatever. My parents paid $20k to a plumbing company that destroyed their water system for 2 months. I googled the plumber & found pages of complaints to the state and multiple pending hearings over mismanaged projects and overbilling customers up to $100k. I (mid 30s female) had to step in and force my parents to switch to another plumber who was able to get things working if not perfect for much less money. Sadly they never saw a dime of the $20k and it seems that company is about to be judgement proof if any of the pending complaints ever finalize. I have nearly given up expecting my parents to ever get a good deal on home repairs; we now have a 'family' discussion over needed repairs where i try to set up second opinions and do due diligence like searching the license in state databases. Point being that my dad could not care less what those repair people propose, it nearly causes a family fight every time as he doesnt like to hear he's being taken advantage of, and my mom complains to him that he doesnt get anything done around the house. Idk if older generations are just too trusting or if im just a cynical bitch (well thats true either way lol), but when it comes to city folk especially, gender does not seem to help stem the scams.


Absolutely. I agree. As I said, I know nothing about chimneys. But all it took was my pretending to and the guy backed off. If a woman had pretended to, he might not have believed her. That said, you sound like you know your stuff and your parents are lucky to have you


Yeah i think the key is knowing your stuff or pretending as needed haha i try to help my family out but it is exhausting!!


I learn as much as I can about whatever the topic is before I go in. Make sure I never mention that I was on the old Google machine for a little while before they got there.


Smart!! The real trick is repairing those family relations after all the construction / etc drama


I haven't had to deal with it yet, but I'm keeping an eye on my step-dad's mom. She's dementia and she's in one of the rapid decline phases. She thought she forgot to pay the plumber but it was my step-dad who fixed the sink. He doesn't know how to handle it and I'm really pushing them to get her into an assisted living location. I worked in a dementia unit as activities, I may not be a nurse or doctor, but I can tell when someone needs more than what living at home provides.


Dementia is terrifying, good luck to your stepdad. My parents are okay now but we did go have my mom take a test just in case. Her mom had full blown alzheimers at the age my mom is now. So far she passed but the concern is always in the back of my mind. I worry about all the people who will need assisted living now that the boomer generation is so old.


I’m really pushing them to get her set up somewhere. Honestly, it would be so much less stress for both my parents and her.


Oh god don’t even get me started. My parents hired a guy to fix their cracked driveway and he clearly didn’t know what the hell he was doing. Paid $6000 and he did a straight amateur job. And then they were too scared to ask him to fix it after I googled and found out he was high up in the Michigan Militia.


That sounds insane!! I apparently have power of attorney in my parents will, lately my refrain has been 'don't make me use it!' with regard to home repairs. As if any of us even have the time or energy to do so! Sigh. My current challenge is trying to figure out if something will eventually become my problem & if so how to deal w/it sooner.


It’s not sexist. Sadly, as a woman, I have learned over the years that when dealing with people “of authority” be it the school district, repairmen, car sales or what have you, one thing hold true: it pays to have a penis. Walking in with a giant dildo doesn’t get you nearly as far as a man in a suit, but it is more fun. I’m the one with the knowledge and assertiveness. My giant husband is here for looks.


well it pays to have testosterone and pass as a man... i doubt pre-bottom surgery trans women have the same privileges as men, infact even less privileges than cis women


Yeah, im a lesbian so ive learned to be intimidating w/o any guys around. Its often my own family that is the most unintentionally sexist. Despite being otherwise supportive. Ive had to be like mom & dad, if i was a dude y'all would let me try fixing shit, get outta my way! Lol.


I usta do installations and repairs. Looked at a job where elderly woman's washing machine was slow to fill. She had been told all her hot and cold pipes needed replacing and had already received multiple estimates for thousands of dollars. A neighbor recommended me. The filtering screens on her washing machine hoses were plugged with debris. A common situation. Close to my shop, and took about 15 minutes, so no charge, and I get her future business if any, and she tells her friends. Some repair guys brag about how much they are able to get away with. It's disgusting.


I really appreciate what you did. You’re a good guy!


As a not quite elderly lady, but an at one time very broke single Mom-THANK YOU.


Thank you for being you!


I work at a Credit Union and this is unfortunately common. We had a member who became a widower. The contractor was actually the business partner of the deceased husband. So she completely trusted him. He did over $100k of "work" on her house. The Credit Union legally got involved because son brought it up to us after warning his mother multiple times. The work was completely unnecessary and scumbag contractor tried to argue it doesn't matter because she agreed to all of it. Didn't work out for him. We were able to prove the work wasn't needed and he was obviously exploiting her. We got a judgement for the full amount and she got her money back.


Did the son have to have power of attorney for you to legally get involved, or were you able to convince the elderly woman to finally go along with the lawsuit, and that the contracter was scamming her?


I don't really have all the details because this was a real world example during a trust services course I was taking at headquarters. I work branch level but I have plenty of stories just from our branch. I think the son and Trust Services Reps were able to talk some sense into her eventually. Unfortunately, this is a rare case with a happy ending. It is not the norm. A lot of people get scammed outside of US jurisdiction. If we can stop the bleeding and get them to stop sending money to the scammers and make them see the truth, usually that is the best we can do.


Not just elderly people. My husband and I are in our late 20’s early 30’s and because his parents bought us a new ac when ours died a scumbag HVAC tech tried to sell us a furnace saying ours would quit this winter and it’s leaking carbon monoxide. We have monitors all over our house because our loan required it and they’re all brand new. Not once have I heard them go off besides when we’ve tested them to make sure they work. Guess he thought the parents would pony up more money if he invented an issue. Not only that but the jerk disconnected the pipe that vents the less than compatible with life gasses out from the furnace to outside and didn’t bother to turn the gas back on.


There have been news programs about the scummy HVAC guys getting people suckered into monthly plans. Their furnace sucks and does not save money.


we had a guy look at our furnace and convince my husband something important had cracked. Used an iPad and a camera on a wire (or something) to show him. except another guy came and said the furnace was fine and the first guy probably just showed my husband a prerecorded video.


they don't even need to be elderly. . .20/20, 60 Minutes and Dateline have all done hidden camera stories about unscrupulous repairmen from oil changes to air conditioning. In a lot of these exposés the victims are almost all women (of all ages).


Holmes on homes had a great episode where the electrician had abandoned the work and when he visited there was a box with the wires joined just suspended in the crawlspace by the wires.


i am getting older and can no longer do those things i used to do...i see it. a slight increase in how workers assume i am an idiot. i know how to do the work but can no longer. so it is rather obvious when they are trying to BS me. but my late wife and many others would not be aware they were being robbed. it is particularly galling as i used to BE one of those repairmen that came to your house.( i fixed/installed alarms/security/surveillance systems)


I feel like this is common with shady people and mechanics as well


My first experience with getting quotes from contractors was for a large deck we were replacing. All over the place. One guy said, "It will be at least $4000 for materials." Final guy (we chose) did the whole thing for $3500, materials AND labor.


Some of that is because the contractor doesn't want the job, so they give a high bid so you pick someone else.


I inherited my mom’s house upon her death. I live on a pension, but the house is in a high-end community on a river. Taxes are ridiculous and close to the price of monthly rent. The number of businesses who padded estimates was awful. They see an old woman in an expensive community and greed takes over. Yes, I hate this house.


My grandmother had a similar instance. She's usually very wary of scams, but she's too nice for her own good. She needed some siding replaced, as it was falling apart. She found a guy charging a reasonable (not suspiciously low) price, and he seemed legitimate. She paid him, and then he kept making excuses. He didn't show up for weeks, and then when he finally did show up, he took weeks longer to actually do the work. He kept making excuses as to why he wasn't working faster, and since he was "spending so much time and effort", she actually paid him more than he was asking for. Fast forward to when he finishes the job. He proceeds to demand *more* money, even though he took 3 months, when the quoted time was 2 weeks, and she already paid him more than he was asked for. She pays him the more money he asks for, unfortunately. Fast forward another 2 weeks, and the siding *fucking falls off*. This guy did such a shoddy job, it only lasted 2 weeks. Thankfully, she managed to get all of her money back, and got a proper worker to do it for her well, but *damn*.


This is part of the reason I sold my house. I was tricked by many contractors so much, that within a 6 month period I put about $60k in for house repairs.


Modern commerce is a Liveleak deathmatch for some cruel ancap god's amusement. Seriously though, people should operate from the assumption that absolutely every business is trying to completely rip you off. People want to trust repairmen/contractors because they're usually a small business and everyone wants to have a friendly, trustworthy handyman, but small businesses can be the absolute worst. They often operate on razor thin margins and owners have their survival and ego tied up in its success. I learned this attitude from a family member when looking for used cars and it seemed to work out for the best. The obvious scammers, and general bullies would instantly get aggressively upset and disengage, and the decent people would just put up with you with either annoyed confusion or begrudging respect. It's far better to come off as a cynical asshole than a friendly mark. The worst they'll do is talk shit behind your back.


>It's far better to come off as a cynical asshole than a friendly mark. The worst they'll do is talk shit behind your back. THIS. Quoting for emphasis.


This happened to my brother in law. He is mentally disabled and he gets swindled often. It's terrible that there are people who take advantage of those who are vulnerable. He also keeps large amounts of money in the house in a safe. He thinks it's safer that way and you can't tell him otherwise. Some scumbags rang his bell one day and convinced him his driveway needed to be resealed. He has a concrete driveway. They charged him $2K to slop used motor oil on a concrete driveway. Then when he wasn't watching one of them went in his house and robbed his safe. How they found it so fast IDK but they did. All he could remember was their truck had SC plates, probably those crooks called the travelers. Anyway we found out he was their favorite pigeon so every spring they would come around and rip him off with unneeded and shoddy repair work that was not needed. His trust then put him in a home and sold that house in case something worse happens. It's terrible.


Everyone make sure you’re a filing a complaint with the BBB and posting negative reviews on Google, Yelp, Angie’s list, etc. To help reduce the chances that they try to scam someone else.


I made this mistake when using the home warranty. I thought you had to use the company they sent, and it was during the pandemic so I didn’t have a lot of people over at the time. I found out later that I was SOO overcharged. Thankfully I learned my lesson when my furnace broke. It was supposed to be “fully covered” but the company that came out added several thousand for “modifications” that weren’t covered. LUCKILY I did get a second opinion, who explained that they weren’t modifications, it was just describing the steps of the install - they called them modifications so they could charge me more on top of the flat rate from the warranty company.


We see this stuff all of the time as a roofer working in retirement communities. It’s sad how shitty some people can be. Makes it easy for the good guys though. Also, don’t ever coat your shingles.


also when tradespeople walk through your house and take your jewelry or other valuables. my mom lost a valuable ring that way.


Hope your contractor friend reported the scammer to the local licensing agency.


Hell you don't even need to be a woman to have these guys try and upsell you. Me and my SO are in our mid 20s and we've had a few times were they just assume we know nothing because we're young/dumb. Once went to get an oil change before a trip, and the guy tried to convince us that there was a bad oil leak "there is oil all over the engine" so we would have to get the whole engine taken out and all this other BS. I took one look and there was nothing wrong, took the car somewhere else and they confirmed that the guy was talking out his ass As a woman this shit does happen more to me than my BF but come on


Complain to your States attorney general's office, ( they might sue if they get enough) and if it's a contractor complain to the board or registrar of contactors. The BBB can also get good results--scammers want to resolve their complaints so they can keep doing what they're doing.


This happened to my parents. They called an electrician for something small & he told them they would have to rewire the whole house to the tune of thousands and thousands of dollars. I made them get a second opinion and that was all a huge lie. I was so pissed off… I left a scathing review on Yelp and within minutes of posting my dad got a call from the company and they gave him a full refund for the consultation and whatever else they’d done that day. So eternally frustrating.


Ugh i hate home repair scams. Thank god for google & diy forum archives- it really helps to read about how others solved their problem & which professionals were really needed. I don't even own a home but my parents have gone thru some shady contractors. I feel for anyone who doesnt have competent adults in their life to help them make the most informed choice on these things.


Happens in Solar often, I've canceled other companies loans that they didn't know were loans because docusign doesn't compute to people who are 76.. gotta keep your morals in check or shit like this happens.. that kid probably ran the business into the ground and burned everyone


This is the first time I saw the word, "flue" and made me realize that the floo network from Harry Potter was a pun on that word.


Just had our roof repaired. Half way through the repair they “accidentally” add new facias and flashing and tell my partner they need an extra £750 (down from £3k!). Its agreed and they continue. When I get home I point out that those things were part of our original quote. Unfortunately partner had already paid and they were gone. It’s a small loss considering I was planning on hiring them to replace all of our roof windows. They won’t be getting that job now and I’ve warned the neighbours off using them.


Wow, this is nuts. Good advice, I had no idea how rampant the problem was. My mom had a chimney estimate done two months ago for 13,000 US dollars. I told her that seemed insanely high, she got the work done by another team for three and a half grand.




I have read on other subs about chimney people being just super scammy in general. Apparently it’s a dying trade so they just scam the shit out of people when they can. Based on my reading. I’m a woman who owns my own home. I have had good luck with getting work done. I use all referrals from coworkers/friends and get multiple quotes. If anyone is super pushy it’s a red flag and I don’t follow up. I do a lot of research and talk to people in my area about how much they paid for similar projects so I have an idea if someone is outright scamming me. Maybe because I live in a progressive city I have not had people talk down to me or treat me differently.