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Small business problem


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I hope someone can offer any advice re a current problem concerning my son in law and his business. He quoted for a 'gardening' job, it was accepted, now the customer states she is not happy with the completed job. She is demanding a refund and says he has '...broke the law.'

The job involved the laying of artificial turf. The customer had her 'front' lawn covered by artificial turf but wanted something thicker for the rear garden. This was achieved and she was happy with the job on completion,however, she then called my son in law and left a voice mail message admitting it was her own fault but she thought she had chosen the wrong product. She complained she wasn't given a sample of the product despite the 'turf' having been in her garage for a month before the job had begun. She states he has 'broke the law' because he did not provide a receipt, she was offered one and at the time declined. She is now threatening legal action if my son in law does not refund her the price of the job plus agree to redo the job at his own expense!

His business is a very small landscaping/gardening job. He has never had a complaint before and this is causing him stress. Surely her admitting it was her own fault she chose a product which she later didn't like is no fault of the business owner?

Any ideas where he might proceed from here? I understand this a family member and some may believe I am 'protecting' him but he is a genuine,hard working bloke, I would not help him if I didn't think this case was someone attempting to receive something for nothing. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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As long as the job he's done is as quoted, and the miney from the job has gone through the books I can't see how he has broken the law. I'd tell her to do one and see her in court.

 

What's Best for You?

 

 

The Consumer Action Group is a free help site.

Should you be offered help that requires payment please report it to site team.

 

Alliance & Leicester Moneyclaim issued 20/1/07 £225.50 full settlement received 29 January 2007

Smile £1,075.50 + interest Email request for payment 24/5/06 received £1,000.50 14/7/06 + £20 30/7/06

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:p

 

Advice & opinions given by Caro are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

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I think that he should make sure that he is always responsiove.

You must keep a copy of the voicemail admitting her own fault. This is very important.

 

Get him to write out a full statement - very detailed of exactly how the job was commissioned and ahow it went. Times, dates etc. Keep that for your own records and all associated paperwork of the job.

 

Even if she won, she wouldn't be entitled to get the job done for free. It will never be that serious.

 

He should stay very polite. Get as much info from her at this point - so write a letter expressing regret that she is not plleased. Ask her to explain as fully as she can why she is not pleased, when she realised this and so forth. Dom't refer again to her voicemail. Gove her no information. Just get her to put down as much as possible in writing for you so that there is a story which she can't change later.

 

I expect that it will all come to nothing - but come back when you have her response.

Eventually you will send her another letter saying - sorry but there is nothing you can do. Stay polite and non-confrontational

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As long as the job he's done is as quoted, and the miney from the job has gone through the books I can't see how he has broken the law. I'd tell her to do one and see her in court.

 

I would just add that I was speaking figuratively and not suggesting he be anything but polite, but as a businessman, I'm sure he'd always be professional with customers. :)

 

What's Best for You?

 

 

The Consumer Action Group is a free help site.

Should you be offered help that requires payment please report it to site team.

 

Alliance & Leicester Moneyclaim issued 20/1/07 £225.50 full settlement received 29 January 2007

Smile £1,075.50 + interest Email request for payment 24/5/06 received £1,000.50 14/7/06 + £20 30/7/06

Yorkshire Bank Moneyclaim issued 21/6/06 £4,489.39 full settlement received 26 January 2007

:p

 

Advice & opinions given by Caro are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

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Many thanks for your prompt replies and advice. Thus far my son in law has remained both professional and polite whilst dealing with this customer but is becoming increasingly anxious and concerned about the whole situation. I am putting together a letter for him to send, (her daughter sent him an e mail demanding he correspond with only herself as her mother is so upset by the whole thing,) thus all correspondence will now be sent to the daughter. thus far her daughter has failed to respond to an e mail requsting her address as the letter will be sent via registered postal mail. He still has the voice mail and I have already advised him not to delete it as this could prove to be vital in demonstrating that she admits the choice of turf is her own fault.

Could I clear some points mentioned in her e mail..is it against consumer law not to give a receipt? She was offered one but declined. I assumed it was not against any consumer law but admit I am an amateur in such things although I am attempting to research this. She says no cancellation policy was included in the quote??? Unsure what this means and the consequences? @ Bank fodder do you think the letter should NOT mention the voice mail where she apologises about her choice of grass and admits this her fault? Also does her daughter's demand that he reply within 7 days have to be met? I shall endeavour to meet this deadline but have research to do etc are there consequences if this is not complied with. The e mail sent by her daughter has so many discrepancies and frankly untruths that a comprehensive reply is required.

Thanks in advance, very grateful for your help.

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I'm far from an expert but if the contract is with the mother then unless the mother puts it in writing that you are to deal with her daughter, then I wouldn't. also, I don't see how the daughter can refuse to give you her address. in that case I'd tell that daughter that I was continuing to correspond with the mother. & personally I think 7 days isn't enough, I'd day it should be 14 days.

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  • 3 months later...

Unsure if this post is in the correct place, hopefully admin will help if not. My son in law has been accused of poor work by a customer. In short... He completed laying of artificial grass on the customers front lawn, this she was satisfied with and requsted the same for rear garden, however decided she wanted 35mm turf. This was completed to her satisfaction , however, a few days later she called my son in law and said she was not happy with her decision to have the longer turf, she apologised for this and stated she realised it was her own fault. My son in law offered to redo the work, at customers cost, using the shorter turf she had in her front garden, Subsequently her daughter has written stating the work was not up to standard, a receipt had not been provided, ( one was offered and refused,) plus threatening legal action. Any ideas how we may proceed in this, I am compiling a letter for my son in law to refute all claims but wondered how he stood legally? My son in law is a small businessman, by no means wealthy, this is not a large business!! He is a self employed landscaper, has had no previous complaints and is extremely distressed by this matter. He has a young family of 3, a mortgage and cannot afford legal fees nor loss of business. Many thanks in advance for any help or advice in this matter.

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Sorry HB you are correct it is the same problem. Forgot I had previously requested help with this. Just reading through advice offered. Unfortunately the damning voice mail expired and my son in law no longer has it. I understand this was crucial to any defence but I understand there is no way to retrieve expired rather than deleted voice mails :(

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to deal with the receipt, tht is the easy part. No it isnt against the law to give a receipt but it is a very good idea to do so. You send a receipt stating the work done so it will read something like-

for laying x sq m of 35mm artificial turf as specified by customer on (date), groundworks as required to install the above.

Total £xxx received on (date) by cash/cheque with thanks.

Now the tricky bit.

As the job was to the customers specification rather then being asked for advice on what to do and then agreeing with the suggestions given the customer doesnt have a leg to stand on if the materials used are fit for purpose and the work properly executed. How does one determine that she asked for the longer turf and that no advice was sought about suitability? this is the sticky bit for your son in law so the voicemail becomes the focal point of whether there is a cause of action by the customer. Copy the voicemail on to another device so there is a back-up and then S-I-L should write another letter to the customer (Do not correspond with anyone else without a proper written and signed consent so dont bother writing to daughter even to say you arent going to write to her) stating the facts and say that it is denied that there is ay fault with the materials or workmanship and therefore he will not be replacing it. No negotiation on relaying it or offering to do it a second time for a lower charge, make it clear that she chose the materials and that the work was completed to her instructions and that no problems mentioned at the time. No such thing as a cancellation policy for work started or completed to customers specifications.

 

The liklihood of any court action is very low, it is a case of buyers remorse and they want a new one for free because she feels guilty about choosing the wrong material. Tough. too late to ask S-I-L for favours after that performance. A demand to respond in a certain time frame only means something if the demand is part of the procedure for taking legal action. If this was the case the letter should state that as well so the phrase is meaningless.

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to deal with the receipt, tht is the easy part. No it isnt against the law to give a receipt but it is a very good idea to do so. You send a receipt stating the work done so it will read something like-

for laying x sq m of 35mm artificial turf as specified by customer on (date), groundworks as required to install the above.

Total £xxx received on (date) by cash/cheque with thanks.

Now the tricky bit.

As the job was to the customers specification rather then being asked for advice on what to do and then agreeing with the suggestions given the customer doesnt have a leg to stand on if the materials used are fit for purpose and the work properly executed. How does one determine that she asked for the longer turf and that no advice was sought about suitability? this is the sticky bit for your son in law so the voicemail becomes the focal point of whether there is a cause of action by the customer. Copy the voicemail on to another device so there is a back-up and then S-I-L should write another letter to the customer (Do not correspond with anyone else without a proper written and signed consent so dont bother writing to daughter even to say you arent going to write to her) stating the facts and say that it is denied that there is ay fault with the materials or workmanship and therefore he will not be replacing it. No negotiation on relaying it or offering to do it a second time for a lower charge, make it clear that she chose the materials and that the work was completed to her instructions and that no problems mentioned at the time. No such thing as a cancellation policy for work started or completed to customers specifications.

 

The liklihood of any court action is very low, it is a case of buyers remorse and they want a new one for free because she feels guilty about choosing the wrong material. Tough. too late to ask S-I-L for favours after that performance. A demand to respond in a certain time frame only means something if the demand is part of the procedure for taking legal action. If this was the case the letter should state that as well so the phrase is meaningless.

 

Many thanks for your informative reply and for taking the time to respond, very much appreciated. The voice mail referred to expired , thus unfortunately did get 'deleted' from mobile :( At the time this all began I did advise son in law NOT to lose the voice mail,however, he didn't realise that it would expire. The daughter is now requesting to know if son in law a member of any Trade Association and the name of it. So unfair if she is attempting to impair his reputation as he has had no previous complaints, in fact quite the opposite.

I also suggested writing directly to the mother rather than her daughter however, she states her mother is too distressed to deal with it!!!

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Also meant to add the daughter wants receipts for all items required to complete the job i.e receipts of purchases made by son in law for turf etc, surely she realises this will not take into account labour costs? Plus it took this woman 4 months after the job had been completed to decide she didn't really like the 35mm turf she had decided upon! At the point of completion she stated she was happy with the job and paid by cheque. I am 100% behind consumer rights ( hence me being aware of this forum,) but surely her wrong choice doesn't mean the work man should be penalised and potentially suffer detriment to their business?

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As you are not going to correspond with daughter, what she wants is of no interest whatsoever. If you went to a restaurant you look at the menu and you choose a dish. When you get the bill you dont get a breakdown on how much the food cost to buy in, how much the gas to cook it costs and costs for a clean napkin, it is a nonsense and the interfering so-and so should be ignored. SHE IS NOT THE PERSON WHO CONTRACTRED YOUR S-I-L and has no say in anything. If she wants to stir things then she can produce a copy of the power of attorney that states she has an everlasting authority to do so.

Stop being nice, some people are wholly unreasonable and it looks like you have met one. Ignore, ognore ignore.

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I personally think the gardener should write a formal response to the daughter. This would simply explain what you have explained in this thread - that the work was properly completed to her mother's exact requirements, using the proper materials and with good quality workmanship. He would then explain that, although the longer turf was used as clearly instructed, the mother changed her mind as to the length of the turf. He should mention that this was clearly admitted in a voicemail. He can state that he previously offered to replace the turf at her cost, but this offer was turned down. I would state that, bearing in mind the circumstances, you do not intend to engage in further correspondence and will robustly defend any court claim, and leave it at that.

 

I think you should write a letter as if this does get to court you will want to have a paper trail proving that he responded. This only needs to be a short letter and does not need to be excessively detailed.

 

For now I think it is fine to write the letter to the daughter. If they want to go ahead with court proceedings though it would have to be the mother that issues the form and the mother would have to attend the hearing.

 

I wouldn't get into discussions about receipts or trade associations as these are totally irrelevant. I think that getting into long discussions/negotiations with them would actually be more stressful than the court process - which wouldn't involve much more going down to the local county court for a short hearing before a judge.

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