I have been in renovations for 29 years now, 18 on my own. I've had the great privalege of working for some of the best people out there. I no longer advertise as my work comes from repeats/referrals, which is what every contractor works towards. I have seen a lot of contractor bashing on this as well as other sites (don't get me wrong, I've seen some pretty amazing & horrifying things in 29 years that were done by contractors) but I've never seen the other side of the coin on these sites- bad clients. They greatly outnumber the bad contractors. Every contractor has had at least 1, even Bob Villa & Mike Holmes have probably seen their share. My question is- does anyone know of a site where contractors can post bad clients to warn others to stay away? There are enough sites as I said warning of bad contractors, but in a lot of cases, it could be the client.
Thanks Trevor. I did look around and there are sites out there, but they seem to be all American sites. I'm not looking for a place to vent, just to warn others. I've been lucky- in 18 yrs. I've only had about 7 deadbeats, 2 I took to court. I like lawyers more than deadbeats. Just seems lately there is a new trend in people stiffing anybody they can, they don't realise we have to eat to.
I to would like to see a listing of bad people to stay away from, if the work had been properly executed by the contractor he should be paid without problems. It would be good if there was a Canadian site to give that information.
I completely agree with all of your comments but it is far easier and more interesting to show the dark side of a selected group of thieves and incompetants claiming to be contractors. People in general as well as and more importantly the media do not address at all the shady and ruthless customers that we have all come across. Chances are a customer will get burned by a contractor of sorts only once and would hopefully be smart enough to never let it happen again, where as we take a chance with every project we do. We lay out the funds and finace the projects takiing a chance on our customers charactor. Customers are people bottom line....some people are good and some are not. We have to do our best to protect ourselves. I did hear some type of buzz about a TV show looking for customers who have been burned by contractors and contractors who havn't been paid for work completed. That was a few months ago but I believe it was on the message board.
I insist on a deposit now. It is to cover at least some of my costs and to secure a client's place in my schedule. I have passed on some decent jobs in the past because my schedule was full only to have someone that I was saving time for back out at the last minute. Since I started with the deposit deal it hasn't happened. I know that Mike Holmes advises people not to pay very much up front but so far nobody has complained.
Nothing wrong with deposits. Like you said Trevor, it covers a lot of upfront costs and I believe it creates a sense of trust between client/contractor. I only ask for deposits, usually a third, on jobs over a certain $ amount and first time clients. If things should go wrong, at least you can cover your costs in most cases. I don't ask regular clients for deposits, but most hand me deposit cheques long before I even start because they realise the costs involved.
Here's a dandy situation. Looking for suggestions to handle it. We bid a job and were accepted. Got a contract signed and the first deposit. Well, most of the first depoit. Apparantly there was a family emergency and they could only pay about 75% of the deposit. I agreed on the condition that our secong draw included the balance. We start work. Time for the second deposit comes, I'm standing beside the client who tells me he's going to the bank. The day passes and they don't return...they left the country for 2 weeks!! I stopped the job. Contacted the client who has done a complete 180 and is rude, claiming to have a sorts of issues. I respond to the issues which were 100% bogus. Client is to return in 1 week. He's trying to renegoitate for an even better deal in my opinion. Not gonna happen. I would prefer to be paid for what I have done and they can deal with the remainder of the project on their own. I want out. There is zero trust now. Any thoughts?
Hi Trevor- sticky situation. These people take the reno money & head on holiday? If it feels bogus, chances are it is. Don't re-negotiate- he'll try to hose you anyway. I hate to use the 'L' word, but if you sic your lawyer on him, chances are he'll pay up. Depending on how much you have into it $ wise, and because its not finished, see what he offers. If you can walk away clean without finishing with a few bucks in your pocket, you could save legal fees, court costs,etc.
I've got a deadbeat I'm going after now, and little does he realise, that with interest, court/legal costs, the $1100. he owes me is going to turn into about $3500. Somebody has to take these a-holes down so they don't do it to the next guy. Good luck Trevor- let me know how things turn out.
Well Trevor, something must be in the air as i've had a few customers coming to renegotiate after the work is complete this past month. The funny thing is our prices were extremely fair. My advice to you is to cease work until the customer agrees to pay your negotiated price. I would insist that he pay the entire balance owing less 10% before you will even consider resuming work as he has breached the trust agreement and you can not afford to invest any more labour or materials you may not be paid for in the end. If the deposit you collected covers you......walk away with out the headache. Another contractor will see a unfinished job and price it accordingly if you know what I mean. The customer will wind up paying alot more to complete the remainder of the job and he will be sorry. A situation such as yours is unfortunate and should never occur. I had a customer 2 weeks ago who had put deposits down to a kitchen company and granite company which had nothing to do with me, he did so on his own. He couldn't afford to go ahead with the kitchen project and ended up losing his deposits to these companies. When it came time to pay me for the work we did in the house, he deducted his losses from the deposits off my job!!! After much hostility, and threatening, I was finally paid but wow some people have nerve!!! There's all kinds out there.
hi bill my name is shaun with eagleone contracting, i agree with your comments. there should be a site that you can place your comments about bad clients but i came to realize that if you tell the client that you refuse to do unsatisfactory work you can save yourself alot of head aches. i simply look at the jobs and tell the clients what needs to be fixed for all the corresponding codes, if they refuse to do things that wsy i simply tell them to find someone else, i don't know any sites as of yet but if you here of one let me know thanks.
Hi Shaun- thanks. I'm still looking for a site that posts bad clients, I found 1 in the States, but it's mainly for consumers to- you guessed it- complain about companies. I talked with a fellow contractor last week who was getting pretty pissed with a couple of clients of his giving him the runaround, he says he would have definetly checked out a site to see if the names were on it- like they say- fore-warned is fore-armed. Heres a question for all contractors reading this thread- do any of you know the legalities of posting names of bad clients? You are just posting facts about certain people to warn others- could we be sued over this? If a site like this existed, I would use it for my home page & use it every time I sat down to prepare a quote for a prospective client. The site could contain a resolutions page- you've been busted, maybe embarrased- you then have a chance to pay up or defend yourself. Thanks in advance for any feedback.
Hi bill i am on the band wagon with your idea too. I have had my share of bad clients as well some guys say they don't have any but they probably don't think past the job they are working on. I have been doing renovations for 18+years also. I never worked for anybody else but myself for the past 18 years and I tell you I have been stiffed bye a few people. What about the customers that think they deserve world for next to nothing. I still deal with this everyday! A perfect example was today I gave some people an estimate for a bathroom renovation and they had 3 quotes before mine. They said my quotes are the same as 2 of them. They have decided. to go with the cheapest. I gave them 2 quotes one for gutting and installing marble and one for installing ceramic. The company they choose was in business for one year. They said I gave them the most info and the most detailed estimate and the other company just gave them a peace of paper. go figure that one out. how does a bathroom renovation that would cost about $10,000 in materials turn out to be a $8000 dollar job I am beside myself of the stupidity of some of the customers out there. Now offense to any customers but cheap, dirt cheap, you will regret it. That is how people get these horror stories anyway. Do they deserve it?
Hi Michael- you are right on about that. Times are changing for guys like us & its because of changing attitudes in clients. They watch all these reno shows & all of a sudden they become pros. I am only finding problems with the odd new client; my regular customers are my friends & refer me to anyone who even hints they need work done- they are walking billboards for me- thats why I keep the advertising way down.
Lately I have noticed a trend that I find rather scary- with the Canadian economy heading into the shitter & all the big lay-offs at the big companies- a lot of these laid-off guys are putting signs on their trucks and hitting the streets as contractors. Don't get me wrong- thats not all bad if they know what they are doing- but just because they helped a buddy build a shed 10 years ago does not make them a contractor today.
I am looking into the legalities of a web site where contractors can post dead beat clients; if it saves even 1 of us from getting ripped off again, it will be well worth it. It also makes me wonder: if these people are ripping of contractors, who else has been burned by them?
hey bill when you find out let me know! You are on the money when you say that people are watching to many of these shows. Do it yourself shows are hurting the business a little. People think they can get the job done just like us and for little money. I seen a friend of mine with no renovation experience start flipping houses. he is making money but these people don't know what they are getting. He is good at painting though that's it.
Thanks Michael- I'll keep you posted on my progress, I keep looking for sites but they all seem to be from the States- and they are sure not shy about calling deadbeats what they are. If you want to look, just type in 'deadbeat clients' in Google and cruise the pages that come up.
Another word on these 'Weekend Warriors'- or the guys that don't really know the ropes- they get lots of work because they price low, no permits, do all the work themselves-wether they know how to or not. The end result of this is that there is another homeowner who will never call a contractor again. I'm not knocking the guys who know their stuff, like I said earlier, but I have noticed in the last year alone there are a lot more 'contractors' on the street.
Lots of contractor on the street is an understatement. customers are getting to the point of really being scared of general contractors. I had a customer the other day that said they wish me to start work now! I told them they need to give me a deposit and they said no! I explained to them for the size of the project no contractor will start without a deposit. I gave them a full estimate and I seen the others. They said they had another company that would start without a deposit and i seen this company rip people before. I did t want to sa anything bad about that company because it is bad business. I told them how to check out contractors and hope they took my advise. I also gave you info so they could get another estimate it is i Hamilton and it is a big project! Talk latter!
Hi bill I just thought I should show you something. go to kitchen and baths section and read what Dr.Reno say's 3-4k for a bathroom renovation. he must ot be doing this for a long time. or he just wants there money! I see your comment and mine. then his tell me what you think?
Hi Michael- yes, I saw Dr Reno's comments. It does not sound like that big of a job, so I think hes just throwing the #s out to give the person an idea of what they might be looking at $ wise should they decide to go ahead. Plain bath renos can be done fairly cheap, I find. The $ value goes up the more the client upgrades. I'm doing a bath now for about $3K, with the owner supplying all fixtures/tile/flooring. If the client tries to cheap out on anything, I tell them I will not install it, or that they must sign off any liability on my part should the product they chose fails. Its 1 of those 'should I or shouldn't I' things, but I still have bills to pay, & everyone has a budget. Take care Michael.
Guy's you're absolutly right. I'm a contractor with over 20 years exp, and a costomer now.
Bad costomers are created by verry bad contractors! This is a reality
Hey folks, I dont know if this helps or not. It's not really geared specifically toward contractors but I found it effective.
I was burnt out of 18k just cause the fella didnt feel like paying. We had a long relationship, I built 8 different stores for him, as well as numerous reno's to income properties he co-owned with another party.
Long story short, he needed work done, emergency work due to pipe bursts. Due to the size of the job I knew it would be going through the insurance company. I even took the time to walk the adjuster through the property, showing all the damage and explaining how it would be repaired. I SAW the cheque from the insurance company that was made payable to the home owners, and my company. The job got finished, a bunch of extra work was done as well. I pay all of my subtrades immediately upon completion, so they were taken care of. The plumber was paid, gas fitter paid, electrician paid, my suppliers paid, when I went for my cheque I was told to F*&^ off.
I proceeded to chain my truck to the fellas foundation (he's a bit of a rammy guy). He called the cops. I got asked to leave(and did).
I called my lawyer and the issue is being sorted out still.... In the meantime, I used the link above, listed his name and address even posted a photo that I found of him online. I also put adds in the KIJIJI/services/skilled trades. In KIJIJI i did not just rant but I put his debt up for sale. I listed the name of the individual, the amount owed, the amount I would settle for, and religiously kept posting it daily for 5 weeks. His lawyer eventually wrote with the cease and desist, and I offered him a deal on the bad debt. He didnt bite.
Be factual, dont embelish, tell the truth and keep within the confines of the law. It is not slander. Funny enough, what I did in retaliation was in turn a civil matter. The same thing the police told me when they asked me to leave his property. It was a lot of work but worth it. Still waiting for my money but I know for a fact that a lot of people have seen the articles so it was indeed worth it to me. Cost to me $0.00
By the way, interesting site. I am new here and would like to say hello to all the other contractors out there. How do you get your company name and logo beside your posts?
Secure Contracting & Renovations Inc.
Hi Al, welcome to the site. I have only been on here a few months myself, but so far it has been really interesting. Great bunch of folks on here also.
I think in order to get your logo up, you have to pay. I signed on for a year to try it out; a lot of guys swear by it- so far I've gotten a few leads but as yet no work. I come here mainly for the messageboard. You not only give advice to those that ask, but everyone is very helpful in giving it also. I started this thread way back in June and the responses have been great. Pretty evident that us contractors do not view clients as the innocent angels they make themselves out to be.
Everyone has had their nightmare clients, it just seems lately that there are more & more of them coming out in spades. I started this to see if others were experiencing the same thing & how they dealt with asshole clients.
Thanks for the site-I'll check it out. Welcome again.
The laws in Canada, Ontario and so on are really weird when it comes to slander. I will give you an example, years ago I was Treasurer of the local kids hockey league which my friends and I took over once we chased the old folks that were running it out due to all sorts of financial problems, anyway, I would receive cheques from parents to sign up the kids or for practice moneys owed to the league. We were fully registered as a non-profit and had lawyers and accountants to help us. One day I asked our lawyer if I could post on the news board the list of parents that owed money from NSF cheques and he said " NO WAY" As it turns out, its a very fine line with the posting of people's names and if whats posted will hurt them??? Crazy way but I agree with all your comments and I would love to see it made public also, Maybe we should get together and create a site for ourselves that we could sign into and not open to the public, that may get us around the legal issues. I'm open to join ....
Hi Frank- great idea- I don't know why I never thought of that! I guess I did not think that the people who run this site would want us contractors in any way show the dark side of clients, the people they are trying to draw to the site. But on the other hand, as this thread has discussed, there are a large number of bad clients as well as bad contractors.
I can't see posting deadbeats as slanderous- as long as nothing is embellished & only the true facts are posted. Lawyers would only be involved to save their deadbeat clients from embarrassment. If the issues posted are resolved ie: the deadbeat pays up, we take their name down, no apologies.
I would tend to think that the number of contractors on this site would multiply if they knew they could post their bad clients here, because as this economy continues to go downhill, a lot of us guys are going to get burned. Its the new reality, and its time we fought back.
Sounds like a plan! All good contractors should know who the bad payers are. One thing is for sure through this board we can pass the address of the job on. It would be up to the contractor in the end to check out the names.
This is an excellent idea Bill. Also taking this opportunity to say hello to all the fellow contractors.
Hey Dave, welcome to the site . To all you guys following this thread, I'm going to start Part 2, cause I live in cow country & high speed right now to us is getting our pizza delivered in 3 hours or less, so this page takes a bit to load. Looks like we hit a nerve, though.
Hi Guy's been reading the string for some time now and I have been talking to a couple of Lawyers who are also my clients. They tell me that a web site dedicated to BAD customers would be a legale nightmare in any province. The Idea I came up with is a web site just for licenced contractors you have passwords to get to a list of just Names and Address's. No stories, No bad mouthing, No blame. Just a name and a address. With this info we can make are own conclusion to pay speacial attention to this client. This way there is no slander, no lies........ NO LAWSUITES.I have a web designer who is willing to set up a site for me if there is enough interest. Any ideas on how to make it work for everybody who has a licence give us a shoot.
Hey I will be one of the first people to join. We even can make some money on this if we really wanted to. I just finished a job a job that was from another contractor that was from this site. All the people did was complain about that company the whole time I was there. The contractor didn't even do a bad job and I understand why he just didn't go back. Every two minutes they had questions? I answered they gave me another one! When I was finished they got the job they wanted but my ear surgery will cost more in the long run. My mind is drained from giving them so many answers that when I go to other clients houses now and they ask questions I do not want to answer. I give the contractor an A for putting up with them as long as he did. He was there for 3 long months and I was there for 3 long weeks. If you where the contractor that walked away from that job don't feel bad! I am still your friend. It is amazing how many of the contractors like this thread bill you didn't just start a talk between contractors you started a trend. Talk latter guy's got work to do in the morning. We should all post are emails so we can talk on our messengers when we are here mine is firstname.lastname@example.org if ant of you guy's wish to talk sometime feel free!
Hi Bill, hello fellow contractors!!!!
OK I did get a reply from the guys that run this site and they feel we should just use this system with a new tread??
I agree with Rene, we should get our own place where we sign into and get the latest news on dead-beats and also on other positive news like material finds, services and so on.
I agree with you all on a seperate site for us, but I gotta be honest guys- part of the fun of outing deadbeats will be lost if they cannot see their cheap ass deadbeat names up in lights. Embarrassing the shit out of them might be a way to get them to settle up. All we are really doing is posting these names so the rest of us don't make the mistake of being ripped off by them. You are right Frank, this shit is going to get a lot worse & if we help each other now we can maybe ease things a little.
If any contractor on this site is owed money by a client who refuses to pay, they are deadbeats, case closed. Whatever their reason for not paying is, it's shit- cause these people would be the first to bitch&whine if they were not paid at their jobs. A lot of people see us contractors in the same way as used car salesman (apologies to all used car saleman) & in the 30 years I have been doing this, that perception has not changed, but worsened.
Maybe we can get a lawyer on board to oversee the "Daily Deadbeat Report" & make sure no postings go beyond bad taste. After all, we're not here to slander or insult, but to resolve. I also think that by posting the story behind the rip-off, we can all weigh in with our opinions. This way we can all follow the posting thru either to a conclusion, or to learn something from it. I also think that maybe, eventually, when people hear about this site, they will just pay up so they don't see THEIR name here. The posting should be kept short- state your case with no embellishment, name & address of client- no phone #. All the deadbeat has to do is log on as a visitor to defend themselves. If their lawyer gets involved, we've done part of what we wanted to- we have embarrassed them! Their names will remain on the site for all to see until they pay up. The 2 main +'s of this is: we as contractors get a little bit of payback, and the rest of us have a list of deadbeats to stay away from. This could go beyond just helping contractors: businesses connected to the industry could use the data to scan for troublesome customers. Keep the ideas coming, folks.
I have been working with a lawyer and asking questions while working on his home and trying to get as much info as I can. He did say that if one lawyer was the rep for every contractor on this site we would benefit! Maybe we should all research a little and put one lawyer to work with us we can all share the bill and it would cost us very little!
Well we are in the same situation. My husband did work this weekend, bathtub, exhaust fan, tiling. Midway through when the tub was out, the Manager of this Co-op housing(not too sure if I can mention names ) changed her mind and wanted a surround tub. He went and bought it., installed it. She came in a few times and saw how he was doing, never mentioned a thing till the job was 98% done. Then she said she didn't like it and was not satisfied and would not pay for it. He has also installed heat wrap cables on roofs and a few other jobs there and hasn't been paid yet.
In short, he bought them a exhaust fan, bathtub, and all materials needed. Their bill is now close to 2800.00. It's not always the Contractor's fault I'd really like to stress that. Yes there are a lot of Contractor's that do "popcorn" work but not all of them. We have references to show new clients if needed, we're insured and have our business license and are totally honest with our clients. If he doesn't or if he's not sure how to do something properly, he'll tell the client and refuse that job. I think a lot of Contractor's should also do this instead of "practicing" on other peoples homes don't you.
We are a new business and we've just had our first problem with this one Client, and I've been reading and hearing of some pretty bad situations happening to other Contractors too. Help is always available for clients but I haven't found much for contractors. Any suggestions on how to deal with this situation?
Hi Denis- I'm not sure if you read every posting on this thread, but if you have, I think you can see that a lot of us contractors are getting pretty pissed off by some of the deadbeats out there- so welcome to the club!
As I've explained here, this problem you now face is going to get a lot worse-in the last 3 years, I've been beat out of about $7000.- and I consider myself lucky because it could have been a lot worse. I'm just a small guy- thats the way I prefer it- but some of these bigger companies are getting large bites out of their asses. Thank God for regular clients because I've only been beat by new ones.
You should present these people with a detailed invoice stating it is 'due on receipt'. Is there a contract? Estimate for work? Something in writing will help your case. You could lien the property, providing you do it within 45 days. This may shake them up. Try a sit-down to see if you can come up with some sort of solution, but remember- cooler heads prevail. If you can get your costs out of them & break even, call it a good day.
Stay tuned here- we're trying to get a 'Deadbeat Database' happening here, that way you can post this bad client & the rest of us can steer clear.
Yes, I did send them my quote by email and they said ok. Today I received a check in the mail for 2 roofs and some attic work I did. $692.00. That's it. I will send them a receipt for that amount plus the balance owing, don't know what my chance are though. They still owe me for 1 roof and the bathroom work I did let alone all the materials I bought out of my own pocket! They now are using MY BATHTUB,and MY EXHAUST FAN!...lol...
I'm just starting out here (about 2 years) and don't have no loan or nothing. I am licensed and have good insurance.I do have my regular clients and they really appreciate the work and also the little extras I give them. Now I will get a signed quote, and what do you think about getting a little cash up front, or having new clients purchase the materials? Like I said, I'm new to this. Just got my GST # a few months ago and found out I had to charge it on labor. No PST though so they say. Well my friend, I thank you for your response and I look forward to reading more on here, and learn, learn, and learn.
DENALEX's HANDYMAN SERVICES
Hi Denis- nothing wrong with deposits. I insist on at least 1/3 down with new clients that I don't know- most of my newer clients come by way of referral, and a deposit sets up a trust between client/contractor right away. If they refuse a deposit they may be so tight that they squeak & chances are you'll get nickled & dimed on extras. There is also the chance that particular client has been burned by a contractor before, so they are reluctant to part with their money until they see your work. My regular clients often hand me deposit cheques without my asking- they realise the costs involved. I only ask for deposits on jobs with certain $ amounts anyway. If you feel the job will be material or labour heavy, a deposit should cover a lot of your operating costs should things go bad.
Your situation is unfortunate as it sounds like you have had a fairly good relationship with this client. Whenever I do bathroom renovations, which is a lot, I always let the client pay for fixtures, flooring, etc. This lets them choose what they want, pay whatever they want, and frees up my time. I steer them clear of inferior products though- if they insist on a piece of shit product, it will only cause me a headache down the road, so I will not install it.
Take care Denis.
Just to let you know I take 50% down payment all the time and that is to cover material costs. If I get stiffed I still get pissed but at least it is just for time!
exactly I was to post ad for that. This site should make FEEDBACK for customers too.. I will propose this in ANOTHER separate ad. ABSOLUTELLY YES!!!!
Even though I'm on the other side of the fence, I couldn't help myself reading through all thread.
Do you realize this very site suggests *avoiding* contractors that ask for large downpayments? "to by materials" is listed as one of reasons one might hear.
I understand you take the risk every time and your business occasionally suffers, but consumers are in exactly same situation only their home and their *personal* standing is at stake. There was a comment here suggesting that consumer who gets burned once will "know better next time"... excuse me? Know how? Or know what?
For example I checked with Better Business Bureau a few bids that came on the project I posted and you know what, none of the contractors where listed.
Lots of bidders had no references posted on this site either, and although I don't completely trust those they are better than nothing.
Coincidently, I've been postponing the projects exactly because I've heard so many stories about *customers* being ripped off and know no one actually recommending a trustworthy contractor.
You are talking about establishing the trust with downpayment, but don't you think it should go both ways? Even half of the work done may not be worth 50% of the payment you are asking... and you want it upfront?
Again, I see your problem, especially with commercial/rental properties... but I think your typical homeowner doing the reno for himself is lot more likely to be on the receiving end of the stick.
BTW, I'm completely in favour of contractors blacklisting bad clients. At least rating system should work both ways, and technically there shouldn't be any difficulty implementing it on this site.
Hi ET, glad you are seeing things from the other side- but contractors & customers are in the same boat- customers do not want to be ripped off by contractors & vice versa. It seems to happen much to often, and this recession has created more 'hacks' than the market can handle. I don't care how many awards you have on your wall or how many groups you belong to like the BBB, if you are a good contractor, your customers will always let you know it & that is the best advertising there is. You should hold off your renovations until you are comfortable with a contractor because they will be in your space for a long time, and it will affect everyone around you.
As for deposits- to me it sets up a trust between a client/contractor, as I have stated. If things go bad, the contractor will cover some of his losses- and don't be thinking that its the contractors fault the things go south- more often than not it is the customers inexperience & meddling that causes problems. Do not take offence to that- because the contractor in many cases is the problem- because many times they do not stay on top of things & things fall apart.
I stated in the beginning of this thread that I have seen many horrifying things done by contractors in the last 30 years & things are not getting any better- just recently I ripped out some sloppily done electrical work that was done by a licensed electrician & passed by an inspector. I do this for my clients because it is the right thing to do & what they trust me for.
You have every right to be distrustful of contractors, just like we can & should be wary of clients- but we are not all bad. We have to eat & have families to feed, bills to pay- but unlike most people, we never know if we will be bringing home a paycheque or not.
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