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I have a problem with a client who is demanding a full refund! Please help.

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Hi there,

 

I am self employed and was doing some landscaping work for a client.

 

Unfortunately during the project we discovered that there was structural issues with the property that prevented me completing the project on time.

 

The client decided to take things in their own hands in terms of repairing the structural damage after I had spent a fair amount of time and money arranging inspections, quotations and scheduling etc. Even seeking advise on his building survey which failed to identify the issue, building insurances and working out which resident is liable for repairs etc.

 

On top of that, although the client informed us that it is possible to use barrows to dispose of waste through the house, it turned out this wasn't the case and we were forced to use buckets which increased labour dramatically- he was informed that this would increase costs before agreeing on the project. And we had a lot more waste than expected as the landscape was contaminated with metal railings, car parts, huge piles of bricks and even a iron bed frame etc. Furthermore he decided that we couldn't introduce new topsoil and that we had to use the existing soil and make good of it which took a lot of time.

 

I held off other jobs for about 2 weeks, but couldn't wait any longer. I was in the middle of another project when the client phoned to say that the works had been done (bodged) and I could come back to site to complete. I explained that I was unable to drop my current projects to return to site as he demanded and he would have to wait until these were complete. He was ok with this.

 

I then dropped a couple of clients to make time to restart the project for this, tried to contact the client but was unsuccessful via e-mail and phone. Then a couple of weeks later I get an e-mail telling me that he has gone with a different contractor (paying them a lot more than I was charging for the entire job) and that he wanted a full refund despite me doing 80% of the job! Plus having to work extra time resolving the issues.

 

What should I do? I have since stopped trading within the industry and this project was one of the causes for this and I can't afford to repay anything as I already made a loss on what I had been paid (which wasn't the full amount).

 

He wanted over £4k, then agreed he would accept £2k but I still can't afford this and as I said, it cost me more overall as it is!

 

What are his grounds for this? Should I wait for it to go legal? I really would have liked to have resolved this and completed the project but unfortunately I feel I wasn't given a fair chance to do so.

 

Also he still has some of my tools etc on site worth around £500 (unless they've been taken by this other contractor).

 

Really at a loss as to what I should and can do about all of this. The money I have been paid doesn't cover the work and extra time involved... Any advice would be appreciated greatly.

 

Thanks.

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If this is all documented with full descriptive invoicing, I think you have nothing to worry about.

 

You will have to take the bull by the horns so to speak and visit the property to get the tools and equipment you left there. If you don't do this, the longer time runs on the harder it will be for you to do anything.

 

If he still owes you money for work done, then bill him 'now' using a recorded delivery and give him 30 days in which to pay.

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Well, a deposit/Stage 1 payment was made of 2k, then a 2nd stage payment was made of 4k a final payment is £700 was due at the end of the job but these payments weren't associated directly with the work carried out, rather as a percentage to lessen the burden for the client (as they requested).

 

The only thing he could say wasn't done was laying a patio but this wasn't done due to the structural issues and our costs had increased due to us having to use buckets rather than barrows through the house which he was aware of.

 

So the way I see it, it's a wash and I'm already out of pocket before considering any negotiation of a refund.

 

But surely it's out of the question considering he didn't offer fair warning that he was appointing another contractor, simply an e-mail stating he has one that's due to finish up in a couple of days!

 

I'm really annoyed at all of this as I actually cut it so close on price for his benefit in the first place and now hes pulling a fast one on me.

 

What are his options in terms of demanding a refund? Would he have to go to a small claims court? And if so, what would they conclude worse case? I have no money remaining from the project and I can easily support this.

 

Thanks in advance.

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Hello there.

 

I think some of the questions you're asking here are outside the knowledge of employment caggers. Have you thought of posting on the legal forum?

 

My best, HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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