Neighbor ordered repairs in house when I wasn't there. What do I do?

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I feel dejected. If I've made mistakes in my actions, please be gentle with criticisms. I'm alone in this and doing my best for my mom. No one is as hard on me as I am. Here is what happened.

My car was being serviced yesterday because the brakes were bad. From there, I went directly to Albertson's to pick up some groceries for mom. I got to her house at about 3:30 or 4:00 pm. She met me at the door in a heightened state of anxiety: crying with no tears, speaking in a shrill, rushed way, making no sense. All I could get out of her was: "There's been trouble here in the house." "There were people in the house"
As I put her groceries away for her and prepared her medications, I tried to calm her down enough to tell me (as best she could) what had happened. I went back to her bedroom to put her meds in her adjoining bathroom and saw a pink slip of paper sticking out of the circuit breaker box. The paper was from an electrical company, and said something about a permit at our address. I called every number on that paper, but got no one on the line. Ultimately, I went next door to talk to the neighbor. When my mom heard me say that I was going to do this, she confessed that she had gone over there earlier. (She hadn't wanted to tell me this. Then told me when she realized I was going to find out anyway.)

I went next door, was warmly invited in, and told that Mom told them she had no heat or power, They sent their teenage son over to check it out. He couldn't figure out what to do, so they called his father who's in his mid-60's and not living there anymore. He couldn't figure out what to do either, so HE called an electrician. As I'm listening to this, I still have no idea, really, what they've done, I only know money has been involved. I ask to see the bill. I was thinking I would be handed a bill for about $200, tops, (and that being an over-inflated amount). I was wrong. The bill was for replacement of a Siemen's 200 amp main breaker, a permit, a trip fee of $160, and 3 hours labor. All totaled, the amount came to almost $800. The neighbor paid it by check. I took the receipt, and to say I was stunned would have to be the understatement of the century. I told the neighbor I couldn't pay him right away. Had to at least call the bank and juggle funds or something. Honestly, I was in shock. I got to the computer repair shop that my husband and I own by 5:00 pm and told him everything I've just told you. Showed him the bill. He went through the roof. My husband was a roofer/construction worker for over 20 years and has experience in all facets of home repair. He holds degrees in related areas, (don't ask me which, I can't think right now.) He said that it was outrageous, that the work performed did not need to be done in the first place and the prices charged were exorbitant He said I was not to pay a penny of it.
We contacted the electrician on the emergency number and left a message. He phoned back about an hour later, and got extremely offended and fought with my husband. My husband also phoned the neighbor to request that they stop payment on that check because we dispute the entire thing. They in turn yelled at both my husband and then me. I was told that I am abusive to my elderly mother. Upon hearing this, my temper flared. They do not talk to my mom (until that day) or me. To call me "abusive" is the ultimate insult and hurt me enormously. I have my mom on my mind 24/7 and for 20 years now I have done everything I possibly can to help her. The neighbor and electrician had no right to enter that house much less make any kind of decisions about what was to be done in there. I have Durable Power of Attorney for my mom for the past twenty years because she is incapable of making most decisions on matters like this. The neighbor knew she was "not all there" (his words to me yesterday.)
I must have missed them by no more than an hour. I appreciate that they tried to help, and I am sorry that they could not reach me on my phone (reception goes in and out). But had they waited for me, I would have handled this, and would not have laid out that much money. My husband would have done the repairs, or one of our associates (a certified electrician).

(Continued in post below)

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Angel, please share those estimates, it sounds very interesting.
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If it were me, and I'm famous as a wimp, I would give a half-assed apology to the neighbor when you have calmed down. I think it got all heated because everyone was upset. They certainly weren't trying to screw you when they authorized the work, even though they were wrong to do it.

If the estimates you get come close to the $800, then give them the full $800 to reduce hard feelings. It's worth $100 to have good relations with people who are in a position to safeguard your mother.

They were wrong but they meant well.
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Angel, you are doing the right thing by getting estimates. Here, a Siemens 200amp disconnect would wholesale for $200, plus there is mark up. Permits are $50, trip fee $160 and the loaded rated for an electrician about $150/hr. The electrician himself gets about 40/hr the added 110/hr is overhead for truck, tools, insurance etc. Time and a half after 5, double time on sundays/holidays. I'm in Western NY. Auto repair is just as expensive, a dealership often posts hourly rates well over 100/hr for diagnostics, PLUS more for the actual repair.
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You know, the neighbors' belligerence probably comes out of their embarrassment at having been suckered. Your mom probably had the idea that asking the neighbor for help instead of bothering you would somehow be a good idea. This story makes me remember how many handouts with every single number and way to reach me I left EVERYWHERE when my mom lived in Pgh instead of Little Rock nearer to me. Not that it ALWAYS worked, and it would tear me up when Mom claimed she could not get me on the phone until I realized she was losing the ability to dial correctly...man, I really feel for you. Maybe when things cool off those "good" - well no, they really are good people to at least care as much as they did - neighbors will talk it over with you a little more reasonably and can be reassured that anyone might have made the same mistake. It could well be also that Mom is not going to be safe to live alone a whole lot longer, possibly the neighbor watching and helping in a more appropriate way will let that be an extra year or two...my mom's good neighbor actually saved her life, but then I was still living 15 hours away and that's another story.
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You can go to the BBB with a complaint as well.
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((((((((((hugs)))))))) what a horrible situation. If the neighbours knew you I absolutely don't understand how they acted other than they believed stories from your mum. Those should have been checked out as well as what you wanted done about the heat situation. Do they have your numbers in case of emergences? I think they crossed a boundary they should never have crossed.
Sounds like you are covering your bases in the case of another episode. It all is so unfortunate and so avoidable. You are right - they should have called 911 if they really thought you were being abusive. I know this kind of stuff is exhausting. Take care of you
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Unless Mom does not know how or is otherwise not capable of calling you, this was well intentioned but out of line. A 14 hour power outage could be dangerous for an elderly person, sure, but they didn't realize how often you were over there? My mom did the same thing to a degree, she did not want to let on to me how much help a very kind neighbor was giving her the last few years she was at home. And it is hard to say if repairs were needed or the power just went out and the company took advantage of the situation to rip you all off!!
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Thanks to all for your replies. I truly value them. When it comes to care-giving and dementia, you are all I have. Most of the people around me just do not want to have anything to do with these things, and anytime I try to talk about it they are quick to change the subject. mostly keep it all inside, and only talk when I come here,

Well, *SIGH*, I'm really sad that things went down the way that they did. My neighbors do know my mom's condition, and have known that she is mentally unstable since 1997. Although I absolutely do believe that they acted in what they felt was the most helpful way possible, I also agree with some of you, in that they completely crossed a boundary that you just don't cross. They knew that my husband can do whatever work needs to be done in the house.....they watched us demo the kitchen last summer to stop a bad water leak that had rotted the flooring. I found black mold....we had to tear everything out and rebuild it. We did all of the work ourselves, and saved my mom about $15,000 easily.

One thing about my mom: she likes a warm house. Always has. And when I say "warm", I mean when you walk in the door you're gonna break out in a sweat in under five minutes. Also, this house keeps heat in like no house I know. I assure you, my mom wasn't shivering under blankets, and was in absolutely no danger at all. I was at her house only four hours from the time that she got out of bed.

I know the electrician that the neighbor called is a real price gouger. My mom would never have told them to use him because my mom has never in her life had to contend with things of that nature.

As far as I know, the neighbor did not stop payment on the check. When we called them, we were very nice to them. Had no reason not to be, But they were entirely unreasonable, not wanting to discuss the matter, but instead, wanting to shout over the top of us. When their words became injurious, I gave up. I wasn't going to engage in a shouting match. And I didn't feel I or my husband deserved to be subjected to what was coming from their mouths. Being told that I am "abusive" is total crap, and they ought to know it. If this is how they REALLY feel, then I wish they would have dialed 911.

When I've cooled off (give me a few more days)....I will write them a check. But not for the amount charged on that bill. I will call local electricians and get the lowest estimate of three, and this is what I will pay.

In the meantime, I have a sign just inside the front door. It's not visible unless you walk inside, On a dry erase board I wrote:

"Warning: No services of any kind (except those that address life threatening emergencies" are to be performed at this address without first obtaining authorization from (me and/or my husband). We will bear no burden of payment for services rendered that we did not expressly agree to. Further, if you are in this residence, you are trespassing (and you are also on camera). " Signed my name and added every contact number I have.

They didn't try to reach me very hard. Not in that short a time frame. We were only dealing with about five hours, tops.

I'll let you know how this turns out. I'm at mom's house tonight, and am worn out. I know you know the feeling. Thank you again.
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I'm quite surprised that the electrician was happy to go ahead with the work without first quoting for it and then being authorised to proceed by somebody whose authority he was happy to rely on. Retrace the steps from call-out to estimate to authorisation to invoice, check that you're happy people were acting properly, and if you are then it's your mother's bill and you, as her POA, should pay it with her money.

Then sit back and take stock and, please please, will you stop beating yourself up for two minutes?

You are doing a MOUNTAIN of work for your mother. I know how awful you think this looks - ohmygod her neighbours think I leave her to freeze to death in the middle of January in a house with no electricity and that she has no one in the world to call on - but, honestly? It's a fleeting embarrassment, but that's all it is. Everybody in this scenario was out to help your mother - not necessarily with a due sense of proportion, but they were. Nobody is the enemy. Chalk it up to experience, use it as an opportunity to make friends with your mother's helpful neighbour (take her flowers or something) and let her know what to do in an emergency (e.g. swap phone numbers), the neighbour might also have some important tales to tell about previous unreported events (maybe she "didn't like to interfere" and has been bottling worry up) - good things can come of this incident if you make it happen. Good luck x
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your mother went to the neighbors and asked for help and got it. She should pay the bill, not you. she didn't call you so you are hurt. get past it. She is ignoring you and making you the bad guys.she probably has dementia and it's going to get worse. she will do things you have no control over. learn to let go or you too will be crazy beyond belief.
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