The indignity of aging: Predatory Home Service Providers

Every week I visit a client and we do a quick review of his two checking accounts. I was alarmed to find 2 payments charged to his debit card for more than $2,000 by a local plumbing company.

This client is nice and trusting and unfortunately, a local plumbing company took advantage and charged him more than $7,000 to plunge the toilet and change the hot and cold valves on three bathroom sinks. I was alarmed at $2k and then found a 3rd charge of $5,000 on his credit card.

The three invoices were all written in one day. Since we couldn’t even read the handwriting on the invoices, we called the company to ask about the services performed. They promised to send before and after photo’s of the work justifying the services performed, but a call by his daughter asking for the detailed explanation of work has never been provided.

I called in a second plumber to do an assessment of the work performed who said that it should have cost no more than $1,500.

Sadly, I have learned that in Virginia, there are no measures in place to protect consumers from predatory pricing. Maryland on the other hand has a process to protect consumer from predatory pricing practices.

For now, I’m in the midst of a claim with Better Business Bureau who gave this firm an A+ rating. Checks on Yelp and Google all list other complaints about predatory pricing — especially targeted it seems to older adults. The next step will be a call to County Attorney since this is a form of Elder Abuse.

In the meantime, we are working on other ways to protect him from predatory home service providers, but also keep him engaged and involved.  We started by posting “recommended providers” on his refrigerator.

It’s discouraging to learn that some businesses are taking advantage and I am dedicating my personal time to help fight every one I come across. Disgusted. 

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