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Money Moral Dilemma: Who should pay the bill?

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Please give this MoneySaver the benefit of your advice...
Who should pay the bill?
My mother in law came to our house while we were out at work to collect something, and when typing in the alarm code she pushed the number in too hard and the button stuck. The alarm went off so she called an alarm maintenance guy to switch the alarm off and presented us with a £50 call out bill. Should we pay it? We didnt ask for her to call round.
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  • onlypaddy
    onlypaddy Posts: 991 Forumite
    Debt-free and Proud!
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    mother in law all the way. not your fault she broke the thing is it?
    Debts at LBM (May '08) £5760 - Lloyds CC £4260, Lloyds OD £1500;
    Debts as of May 28th 2011:
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    DFW Nerd #1247 - Proudly dealt with my Debts :D Olympic 2012 Challenge #12
  • meher
    meher Posts: 15,910 Forumite
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    If she's wealthy and if she offers, it's ok to accept. If not it's petty to even consider asking her - just try to set it aside as one of those things that was bound to happen one of these day as it's clearly a cheap alarm system.
  • cashferret
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    I think it would be good manners of her to offer to pay but if she doesn't I wouldn't ask - it's more important to get on with family members and she might justifiably think that it shouldn't be possible to break the alarm by pushing a button too hard (actually I'm really surprised it was)! She might see this as the fault of your gadget being faulty.
  • TBagpuss
    TBagpuss Posts: 11,205 Forumite
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    Is it normal for her to pop round without necessarily having arranged it first? It sounds as though as it, as she has your key and alarm code.
    If this is the case, it sounds as though it was simply bad luck that it was on this occasion that the button stuck, and I think it's reasonable for you to pay.
    However, if you could have got it sorted out more cheaply if she had spoken to you first, I would explain that to her and ask her to cover the difference.
    All posts are my personal opinion, not formal advice Always get proper, professional advice (particularly about anything legal!)
  • djewkes
    djewkes Posts: 15 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
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    For the sake of good relationships I would pay, but I would ask her to be careful should she decide to call again.
  • pineapple
    pineapple Posts: 6,931 Forumite
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    Clearly a crap alarm system.
    You pay.
  • swangirl12
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    It may be she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, the button may have been faulty - it should not be possible to press it "too hard" and make it stick. However, it would have been better had she contacted you first as you may not have needed a call out and the related £50 charge - it may be worth having this conversation with her, in case a similar thing happens in future.

    I personally would not be comfortable with my mother in law (or anyone else) popping round to my marital home without my knowledge (unless I have asked them to, eg if I am on holiday), so maybe this is the opportunity to use this event as a reason to change the code or at least advising her that if she needs anything from the house in future when you are out, to contact you first. If you are perfectly happy that she has free access, then agree some ground rules of what to do in the event of a future emergency, so that any costs incurred are agreed by you beforehand if possible.

    In any case, I think you will probably have to foot the £50 bill as there is no way of knowing whether the alarm was faulty or not, unless you have the engineer report of a fault from the call out, so it would be a bit petty to ask her to pay unless she offers.
  • scotsbob
    scotsbob Posts: 4,632 Forumite
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    If she charged her children every time they broke something then she should pay.

    If not, then it's her turn to benefit from family good will.
  • scoobydoobydoo
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    She should offer but if she doesnt then I wouldnt ask. However, I would be asking for my key back!
  • bogwart
    bogwart Posts: 117 Forumite
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    It would be a bit mean to ask her to pay when she's probably doing you a favour in the first place. But IMO if you have people who are able to access your property you should have a list of emergency repair people like locksmiths, plumbers etc ready to hand.
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