Most Stressful Period I've Ever Had

Discussion in 'What's left to Talk About?' started by Buddha Pickups, Jun 17, 2017.

  1. Buddha Pickups

    Buddha Pickups Well-Known Member

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    Without a doubt, the past 2 months have been the most stressful time I can remember.
    It all has grown out of a project I wanted to do in building a music space for myself. After clearing the BS of govt approval to build on my land, I went with a recommendation from my landscaper to hire a contractor friend of his. Keep in mind, the contractor grew up in this area and went to the school next to mine, we share a lot of mutual friends.

    So, he gave me building plans and set a price and requested half up front for materials which was 3500. I went right after our meeting to get the plans approved. They were denied due to his foundation method not being sufficient to their code. Contractor told me it would be another $3k to do the foundation that way or I could do 2 smaller buildings. Neither idea was going to work with me so after a week of mulling over options with him, I decided to cancel.
    He said he had a $500 cancellation fee which I agreed to pay. He said he would have my refund in 2 weeks.
    2 weeks went by, nothing, fast forward now to 5 weeks from when I cancelled and I still have received nothing other than excuse after excuse. Its either, he's short on workers and can't finish jobs, he has to pay me back in cash cause my deposit went into an escrow/materials account that he can't withdraw from without a "big tax penalty", his clients leaving town prior to paying, the weather has prevented him from working.
    Now, everyone I've talked to that knows this guy is very surprised and said they didn't expect to hear that and have never heard of him having problems with anyone like that before. I checked his court records and he actually has no history of criminal or civil cases against him.

    Question is, how long do I let this go on before reaching a boiling point and take him to court?
    My wife has a friend who is a paralegal and has written up a letter for me and found his address. Besides having a civil case to get my money, I assume after i could always threaten to pursue criminal charges as he's operating without a license and i'm pretty sure there is some fraud/theft going on with what he's doing with my deposit. I didn't want to be too threatening but the stress of chasing him down every week is running its toll on how i'm treating my kids. It's emotionally draining.

    I've offered to give him a receipt to use on his taxes to prove the withdrawal was a refund, not for personal reasons.
    I've offered to still pay him a reduced rate for his time and cancellation fee, which he agreed to.
    I've started contacting his friends to start pressuring him to do the right thing, but that just started a couple days ago.

    All this on top of the fact I have a 4 month old baby, 2 slightly older kids, and a normal 9-5 job and over 20 outstanding orders on reverb.
    I'm tired.
     
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  2. stevebway

    stevebway Well-Known Member

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    REAL world bullshit you could not have conceived.
    Hope this works out quickly.
     
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  3. RiverDog

    RiverDog Well-Known Member

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    I would say serve the letter Tim. While you're contemplating, how many others are also being shafted by the guy and holding off taking legal action because he has a decent rep and no record. I have a feeling your suit will be the first of many for him. I've known, or known of, a few dirtbags like that and it's what they do. Good luck man.

    And take a vacation soon! :)
     
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  4. Ralph124C41

    Ralph124C41 Guest

    All of those excuses are the contractor's fault and his problems should not become your problems ...as they have. He has an obligation to pay you in a timely manner. Now what constitutes "timely" is up for grabs and maybe you could ask an attorney or someone with some knowledge. Personally, my cutoff would be about a month.

    However I would personally not be contacting his other friends or business associates because he may later claim in court that you were harassing him. Again that is just my opinion and I doubt your efforts have risen to the point of harassment.

    If you were to consult an attorney you might even be able to argue that you should get some, if not all, of that cancellation fee returned to you because he, in essence, has violated the contract by not returning the rest of your money. If a part of a contract is broken, the entire contract is broken, I think. I certainly could be wrong but a judge may just rule the entire contract as voided and return all monies to their respective parties. I mean why does he get to keep your $500 but not return the rest of your money as he is required?
     
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  5. jamdogg

    jamdogg Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    I would attempt to have a calm, peaceful (if possible) discussion with him and seek a partial payment of some kind and a firmer plan to repay in full, OR assess his tax penalty and if doable share that expense with him. Cut bait, minimize loss and frustration and move on. The good news is you have lots of orders - a good problem/challenge to have. In fact i IM'd you earlier this AM about some strat pups before seeing this thread.
     
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  6. slowhand84

    slowhand84 Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't wait on the court thing, I would contact him today and say that you've been patient in waiting on this but his behavior is unacceptable and if he doesn't refund your money by Monday you'll begin court proceedings. This isn't your friend, your family member, or some other situation where you need to be sympathetic to whatever the thing is that's stopping him from refunding your money. There are no excuses for refusing you money that you are owed.
     
  7. jamdogg

    jamdogg Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    I would be hesitant to do the court thing. Attorney would likely be $100-300 hr, small claims or arbitration would be minimal fee but time out of work, stress, etc. Do you really want to put your $ in the hands of an arbitrator/judge? If he doesnt have the $, he doesnt have the $. You can't get blood from a stone. I would give him some more time provided he gave me something now. Collateral, a watch, tools, something. I am not a big fan of escalating in this situation, unless the formal contract (if there is one) favors you.
     
  8. Buddha Pickups

    Buddha Pickups Well-Known Member

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    He said he has the money but doesn't want to pay the tax on withdrawing it.

    Paralegal friend said she will help for free.

    I've got our phone calls recorded and texts saved.
     
  9. golem

    golem Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to hear that man. Life can be real hard sometimes. People do stupid sh*t all the time.
     
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  10. Ralph124C41

    Ralph124C41 Guest

    As others have said, court is the last option but it is one that should not be discarded. I didn't take a person to court who owed me about $1,500 because I kept getting texts of promises to pay. I got $40 once. Now the time to file has passed in my state so I'm out a lot of money. I still have the texts to remind me of my stupidity and naivete.
     
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  11. Buddha Pickups

    Buddha Pickups Well-Known Member

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    I don't want to do court but I don't want to keep chasing him down every week for a new set of excuses. I'm just tired of dealing with it.
    I'll probably give him another week or so before I send the letter. I'm not going to mention small claims so he doesn't try and dodge being served. He is unfortunately between houses but his parents live locally as well.
     
  12. SamIV

    SamIV Well-Known Member

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    I have been in this position and everytime I threatened court, I received all of my money. Don't know how small claims court works there, but in Louisiana you do not need an attorney, and the side who loses pays then court fees. Hope this works out in your favor sooner than later.
     
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  13. stevebway

    stevebway Well-Known Member

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    Those of us who know contractors personally or have worked with them know that YOUR money was already spent before they even gave you an estimate. Why ? Because like farmers and other trades ,they are continually funding future projects on monies they've already been paid and are constantly juggling their own bill paying pressures by borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.They " live" with you for weeks and when you can't wait for them to leave they disappear when a new job is critical and heaven help you if you need to have them come back to finish something or correct a mistake.
    So when he gets a down payment from the next guy you'll probably see something...
     
  14. andrewsrea

    andrewsrea Well-Known Member

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    +1 for giving him a few days to pay and letting him know you have no choice than to take him to court, to which in most states and counties you'll be entitled to out of pocket costs for having to do this and he'll be saddled with paying the court costs. This is a common tale for small contractors who have poor cash management / cash flow. The courts see it all the time and unless he had you sign something to the contrary, the court sill quickly side with you.

    Even though you have common friends and the guy seems nice, don't burden your family with the results of his choices.
     
  15. Mikesr1963

    Mikesr1963 Member

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    The $500 fee is to cover the extra work and penalty of cancellations. Go get a loan from the bank dude or get ready to drop $5000 on an attorney and still have to pay me.
     
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  16. doc-knapp

    doc-knapp Well-Known Member

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    Run, don't walk to small claims court. You'll have your money within 5 seconds of him being served. End of story. If you have this much evidence, it's an open and closed case and you're due your money back. The judge will have a field day yelling at him in court, and he'll have to also miss work and pay court costs.
     
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  17. dspellman

    dspellman Well-Known Member

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    This is Yet Another Contractor Story, and I think everyone has one, and I have no idea why people don't make use of escrow services, etc. when they build even small projects. I have a friend who builds tilt-up buildings that seem to simply sprout in a couple of days after weeks of prep. I had a project some years ago that needed his kind of services. I asked him to comment. He said, "Are you considering hiring me or someone else?" "Someone else." "Good, because we wouldn't be friends afterward. So here's what you do..." Good thing, too, because a couple of small, "meaningless" inclusions in our contract triggered and kept him from dragging the project after the bulk of the work had been done. He was none-too-pleased at realizing he couldn't NOT complete work without losing money, but it was his own lawyer that pointed out what he'd signed.

    Unlicensed "friend of a friend" contractors almost always cost you more money and time than what you would have paid had you hired licensed and a decent lawyer from the get-go.
     
  18. Buddha Pickups

    Buddha Pickups Well-Known Member

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    It's the same here, up to 5000 is small claims territory.
     
  19. Buddha Pickups

    Buddha Pickups Well-Known Member

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    He called me today with a long sob story of course.
    He said he can make weekly payments for the next month to pay it off.
    I'll give him til Friday, if no initial payment is made then the letter from the lawyer will be en route. Or, not sure if I should just skip the letter and send the court summons.

    The guy who referred me to him also called him and told him to stop fucking around and just borrow money from the bank if need be. So, the contractor is now pissed at his friend for siding with me.
     
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  20. tobijohn

    tobijohn The Great Enabler Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

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    That's fine but the first time he defaults, immediately send the letter (which should include a demand for full payment by a specific date) and if payment isn't forthcoming, file in small claims court. If it comes to trial, there's no doubt that you'll prevail although there'll probably be a few more hoops to jump through before you actually recover your money. Also, unless that $500 cancellation fee was in writing and you signed off on it, he owes you that too...
     

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