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Getting ripped off by customer

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Posted by: from Toronto
11/15/2015 at 11:30:26 PM

I have been doing work for this customer for at least 3 years now. Recently I just finished a big job whereby I did not take a deposit nor did I make an agreement because the job was not clear and could become bigger then anticipated. In addition this had become the norm, finish the work and I invoice him and a little haggle and get paid. The materials invoices separate from the labor.

This jobs done and I present him with the invoices and he has decide to pay me what he feels appropriate in his sense. I have explained to him there is a market rate for most of the work and the rest calculate by the time taken and skill level to accomplish the job. He is going by what the neighbour has done which is completely different and so on basically he is discounting the invoice by $10K using his discretion.

Please advise how I should deal with this situation. I even told him I will give him a discount but he is adamant that he is going to pay me what he feels right. I had itemized each and every job and priced them individually even told him double check with another contractor but with a response that this prices are made up by contactors according to what they want.

Please advice what can I do so as to get my payment and to let him know that he cannot try to get away with it.

REPLIES (4)
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B. Vince from BVM Contracting in Toronto
Date/Time11/16/2015 at 8:22:38 AM

The first thing you did wrong was to begin work without a contract or written scope of work as you saw it at the time. The second was not taking a deposit.

When a project like this begins, you go by the scope and when the client makes changes, you too make change orders and get them to sign off on them.

You have two avenues to pursue in this situation: 1. Take him to small claims court, but you do not have paperwork to substantiate your claims (ie: written contract or change orders). You could always tell him that is what you intend to do, it may work.

2. Put a lien on the property, or tell him that is what you intend to do without payment. Again, you require paperwork to back up your claim.

Good luck!

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Date/Time11/16/2015 at 8:34:05 AM

There is another solution, Talk to a Bill collection agency. They will work for you to collect. Send him an inflated bill for the amount owing and advise him through registered letter that if you are not paid within 10 days you will have no over choice but to turn it over to ???? collection agency. This will ruin his credit. These people are ruthless and have the right to call him several times a day. Also you might want to say you are going to talk to his neighbors about what he is doing to you. You have to show this customer that you mean business.

Jim

Total General Contracting

Belleville On.

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Date/Time11/16/2015 at 9:30:08 AM

We just had a similar situation. We had a contract but the customer didn't sign it. We received a cash deposit. We have pictures and text messages in regards to our work. Our lawyer advised first step is to place a lien on the property. This will affect their credit and force payment or small claims court. To have representation in court, it will cost +4000 in lawyers fees. You can also represent yourself. The pictures and text messages and emails are hard evidence of the work we have completed and will hold in court.

Good luck.

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Date/Time11/16/2015 at 11:33:38 AM

Good morning Toronto,

I agree with the other comments as they all offer good advice. A contract should have been signed and updated as time went on. Regardless, you have done the work and told the client the current rate. It sounds as though you also explained, in fairly good detail, the difference between this project and the one the neighbour had done. Bottom line is that you have been open and "fair" with your intentions.I would recommend that you sent a registered letter stating that if thisd is not resolved promptly, a lein will be placed against the clients property and that the clients credit rating will be tarnished. If you do this, either the client will respond or you should follow through with the action. It is your money and you deserve it.Don't let him off the hook! I've seen this too many times where a client just wants the Rolls Royce and pays for the Smart car. It is never fun to do the collection part, but fight for your entitlement. Lesson learned for next time.

Regards from Alberta.

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