When Marti needed to buy a new car, she did what most of us do — she looked at ads in the newspaper and asked a friend to drive her to various car lots.
Sales representatives, always eager to help, showed Marti cars and pressed her to buy. "Just today my manager will allow me to take $1,000 off the price of this car," one particularly aggressive salesperson explained to Marti.
Marti, feeling overwhelmed after visiting a few lots, went home to consider her options. That evening, one of the salespeople called her to say he had found "the same model you looked at today, but at a third off the price!" Marti loved the car she had seen — and to save so much money! Marti thought she could buy the car she wanted and still have enough funds left over for a trip to see her grandson in New York City.
Marti agreed to buy the car. The salesperson was ecstatic. "Great, Marti — you are going to love this car! I'll come by your house right now, pick up your credit card and go get that car for you. I can deliver it to you tomorrow morning."
Seniors — particularly women — are vulnerable to unscrupulous salespeople. Most women feel anxious and susceptible to fraud when buying a car or taking one to a mechanic for repairs. It would be great if there was an advocate for the senior, someone who knows cars and could be hired to help negotiate the purchase of a car or determine the appropriate services needed for an existing car.
Ask a senior about car repair or purchase, and most will say that at some point they felt taken advantage of by a salesperson or mechanic.
Monterey Bay Village, the newest program offered through The Carmel Foundation, does not currently have a "car specialist," but it has many vetted and approved service providers that offer needed and necessary services for seniors. The Village, as it is referred to, has a goal of helping seniors find appropriate service providers so they can stay at home and independent.
The Village screens service providers and checks on licensing, insurance and the provider's standing in the business community. If the provider passes muster, seniors are given the provider's contact information when they have a need for that service. Plumbers, contractors, at-home care providers — all the usual professionals that a senior may need to age in place — can apply to be added to the pool of vetted professionals.
Seniors can join The Village for a fee. To help the senior offset the membership cost, approved service providers are asked to discount the services to the member-senior.
But more important than fees and costs is that seniors are using a professional whose background has been checked. "Seniors deserve to know who it is that is coming into their homes," says Nettie Porter, director of Monterey Bay Village, 624-1588.
Marti is a smart woman and she did not give her credit card to the salesperson. Instead, she reported his questionable behavior to his manager and bought a new car from another car lot.
Liza Horvath has over 30 years' experience in the estate planning and trust fields and is the president of Monterey Trust Management, a financial and trust management company. This is not intended to be legal or tax advice. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 646-5262.