How Would You Handle This?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by kapolani, Jul 14, 2011.

  1. kapolani macrumors 6502

    Feb 24, 2011
    In February of this year I had some work done. My wife and I paid a local place to install Pergo flooring in a few of our rooms.

    The work that was done wasn't the best, but it wasn't too bad. It took them two days - Friday and a Saturday to do most of it. They didn't completely finish the job and were supposed to come back that Sunday to finish. They never showed up.

    I called the guys - cell phone, twice - but they never called me back. I even called the store and left a message.

    Fast forward to last night. My wife gets a call on her cell phone saying we have a balance left from the job. I paid roughly 80% of the bill as a down payment and was going to pay the rest upon completion of the job. The balance is around 700 dollars. Remember, this work was supposed to be done about five months ago.

    I had the leftover work completed by another company.

    I'm going to call them this morning and explain to them that I don't think I owe them anymore money because they never finished the job.

    What say you?
  2. stridemat Moderator


    Staff Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    As they didn't complete the works then are not entitled to payment for those works they haven't competed. You may have to show that you paid someone else to get the work done.

    Out of interest did it cost you more? As in did you spend more than the original value with the first contractor by employing two?
  3. kapolani thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 24, 2011
    I seem to remember it came in under the balance remaining on the original work.
  4. iStudentUK macrumors 65816


    Mar 8, 2009
    Whenever I have a contentious situation like this I always ask myself "what would a judge think?". Not because I expect or want to go to court, but because that's a good attitude to take- factual, tactical and not emotional. Remember you have the big advantage here as they are trying to get something from you.

    I'd pick one reason and stick to it- they breached their contract with you by not completing the work as agreed you consider the outstanding 20% to be appropriate compensation. Don't get drawn into an argument. I wouldn't even phone them, I'd let them contact you. I'd state the exact same point over and over in every communication until they get the message.

    (Disclaimer- I am not a lawyer!)
  5. kapolani thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 24, 2011
    Hah! We think alike.

    I spoke to them this morning. I decided to call - wanted to let them know the situation and how it played out. The person I spoke to "didn't" know that the workers didn't show up and finish the job.

    I told them I believe we are squared away because I had the work completed on my own.

    The owner wasn't around so the person I spoke to is going to relay the message and I guess they will get back to me.

    I've never - not - settled a bill etc so I'm not sure what happens if they decide to go with a collection agency. I don't even know how those work and would rather not find out. Having a collection agency come after me is the only reason that I'm trying to get this worked out with the business.

    Thanks for your input!
  6. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    I would let them know on no uncertain terms your position formally in writing. That they did not complete the work agreed upon and you had to hire another contractor to complete the job. Since the job was not completed by them the 20% remaining is not due.

    In this I would also let them know that absolutely refuse to pay the remainder. They must desist any further collection efforts unless through a court of law, and that further attempts will be considered harassment. I would also include that if they want further clarification or proof it should all be done through written correspondence. I would send this letter by certified mail and keep a copy for your records.

    Keep a log of any calls made. Refuse to talk by phone and insist that all future correspondence be in writing, dated and signed. Not through e-mail.
  7. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    I would say that you don't owe them the balance. Did you document that the job was finished by somebody else? Do you have a receipt from the 2nd firm? While you are waiting for the 1st firm to either go away or to contact you again, put together a file that documents the whole job.... any and all paper work from the 1st firm, a list of what you paid them and when. Photos if you have them of the unfinished floor. When you contacted them to come and finish the floor, and when you gave up and contacted the 2nd firm. And a record of payments to the 2nd firm. Copies of cheques, etc etc (hopefully you didn't pay them cash under the table - which leaves no record of anything).

    Having all the info in a file will help you during phone calls, if the 1st firm is going to push this. You will have amounts and dates, to counter their claims. If it's a local branch of a bigger firm that's harassing you, then the info in the file will help you to write the letter you may need to send their head-office.

    You need to be be able to prove that they did not complete the job in a reasonable amount of time. Because they may claim that they finished the job.

    If the dispute escalates, you may need to come up with "code word" for the situation. What I mean is this. There will be a legal term, or an industry accepted term, for the 1st firm leaving you in the lurch. Something like "abandonment of the job-site." (I'm just making that up as an example. I've had a couple of cases where I've described the situation to the company backwards and forwards and upside down, but until I mentioned the magic "code word" I was not getting any where.) In your case, if the dispute escalates - you may find that you are factually describing the situation to the BBB, or the Chamber of Commerce, or a collections agency, until you are blue in face, and then all of sudden you will speak the magic phrase, and they'll tell you that they'll help you, and why didn't say so in the first place. But if you don't mention the magic phrase you may not get any help at all.

    Hopefully, however, the 1st firm will just bump the case up to a manager who has the authority to make it go away. Keep in mind that initially the people calling you are probably just back office minimum wage workers, and they have no authority to do anything but to read you the script. You need to talk to management. Hopefully, they won't just send it out to collections.

    [Two examples of "code words". Once I was disputing a charge on my Mastercard, and they sent me a copy of the receipt I was supposed to have signed. Problem was, it was not my name nor my signature on the imprint. I was patiently explaining this to the call centre, that it was not my name or signature, that I was never in the store, and that it was not acceptable that they leave the charge on my file while they followed up with the store. We went in circles like this for about 20 minutes. Then I said "Fraud" - and bang, faster than you could say "Please hold while I transfer you" I was connected to someone who took care of the issue in 2 minutes flat. If I had mentioned the code word earlier I could have had 20 minutes of my life back.

    Second example was with an airline. I was flying through Portland, Maine one late summer evening. Forget where to. But we were the last flight in that night, and fog had cancelled the outgoing flights. I was at the end of a line waiting to get food and hotel vouchers from an airline worker. Some people got vouchers, some didn't. If you said you had arrived on the flight just arrived, and were supposed to be on the outgoing flight - you didn't get a voucher. If you said you were a connecting passenger - you got a voucher. It wasn't fair, but that was the codeword, and I was tired and it was late and I had my voucher ...]
  8. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    Like others have said, I don't think you owe them a dime. Just make sure you keep records of any correspondence with them.
  9. mscriv macrumors 601


    Aug 14, 2008
    Dallas, Texas
    Do you have any friends in the legal field who can help you out with this? You definitely need something in writing from them that the account is considered closed and that there is no outstanding balance. The problem with stuff like this is you can't just take someone's word for it. The manager could tell you he understands and that it will be rectified, but then someone in the collections department doesn't get the message and the account goes out to collection and reporting. Once it gets on your credit report it's a total hassle to deal with. Our current system does not force companies to verify the reported debts before it can be put on your record and when it goes on there it becomes your burden of proof to have it removed. It's totally crazy and I know it's a pain because I've been through it.

    You sound like a stand up guy who wants to do things the right way, but like another poster suggested get your proof together and be prepared if it turns ugly. Document every phone call, but know that in the end what someone tells you is meaningless. If it goes to court or collections only what is in writing will matter and I'm assuming they already have your signature on file signing to approve the work at the stated price. You need countering documentation on your side to back up your argument. Best wishes with all of this and keep us posted.
  10. Tiggs macrumors 6502

    Jul 6, 2011
    Is the bill from the 2nd contractor completing the job larger than the outstanding balance from the first? You might even have grounds to go after the first for additional fees if it is. Definitely get all documentation done now including phone records of attempted calls to them.

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