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thedryad

Customer is threatening small claims

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Hi all,

I hope I'm posting in the correct forum, if not then please move it to the correct forum :)

 

My partner is a professional carpenter.

Last week he did a small job for someone who wanted some decking repaired. Customer stipulated that he didn't want the whole thing replacing, which is what my partner recommended, due to rot. So my partner said he could take some of it off and replace the broken boards.

 

The customer was satisfied with the repair job and so was his wife, and paid my partner in full, by cheque.

 

The cheque cleared, but a few days later the customer text my partner saying he wasn't happy with the quality of the work and could he come back and have a look at it.

 

As my partner now works full time for the ambulance service to make ends meet, and the carpentry work is now only part time, he has been unable to go back and inspect the work, but sent an e-mail detailing that he was satisfied that he had done a good job and that had the customer not been happy then why didn't he say so at the time? He claims that the repairs are unsafe and the workmanship is poor. The photos he has sent don't look good to be honest but he has taken the photos in such a way that you can't fully see the whole thing in true context.

 

The customer has now sent a very long e-mail detailing problems and saying that if he doesn't received a full refund by 12th July then he will take him to small claims court, and that any further contact from my partner by email, phone or post will incur a £10 charge!

 

My partner had very little to work with and did the best he could considering the customer didn't want the entire decking replaced, and simply repaired. The customer was happy with the work when asked to inspect it.

 

My question is, can the customer really take him to small claims court over this? What grounds does he have to do this?

Edited by thedryad
typo

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It depends from the quality of the repair.

I would go back and take my own pictures and videos of the job.

Most likely the customer expected the replaced boards to match the existing, but that's impossible and a common point of argument.

They probably now decided to change the decking completely and want to recover some money.

Don't worry about the threat of the £10 charge for every communication, that's nonsense

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Thank you. Oh I know that the £10 charge thing is just the customer trying to be intimidating. I used to do it in my letters to DCA's!

I think to be honest the quality of the repair work is fine, but doesn't meet the customer's expectations and the customer obviously doesn't understand carpentry and the practicalities of carrying out such a job. I just want to know really if it would even get to court and if so does he have any grounds legally.

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I think that the judge would be less than pleased if your partner didn't go back and have a look. I think that when you do a job like that, I think that it includes an implied term that you will deal with a snagging list. I think that this is quite normal in building and decorating work.

 

I think that he should go back as quickly as possible – very important to show willing and cooperation. Have a proper discussion with the customer and agree a written list of the problems. If it is just a colour mismatched then you won't have too much to worry about – but the important thing is to agree a list. Once you have that, you can then understand exactly what the problem is, what the value of any repairs are.

 

When I say agree a list – that doesn't mean that your partner has to agree with the customer's requirements for repair. I'm simply saying that you want to get a written list – with photographs of all the customers complaints. Then you can come back here and tell us about it and we can give you some advice.

 

If you don't go and see the customer then I think that you are not carrying out your side of the bargain and I don't think that the judge will be pleased.

 

As the charging you £10 per contact, this shows that the customer is a jobsworth and your partner shouldn't have gotten involved with him in the first place. If your partner ever does any work for anybody else, then he needs to factor in time to put together a snagging list.


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All work should be signed off by the customer with a 'Satisfaction' note.

Your partner shouldn't leave any completed work without this customer satisfaction note duly signed.

 

Make sure he has some on his next job.

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All work should be signed off by the customer with a 'Satisfaction' note.

Your partner shouldn't leave any completed work without this customer satisfaction note duly signed.

 

Make sure he has some on his next job.

 

Would payment not suffice as such a thing?

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Not necessarily, but if you get a satisfaction note signed before payment is made,

they will have a difficult time if they try to hold back payment, it will have their

signature on to say they are satisfied with the quality and workmanship.

 

Hard to say that in one breath and then try to complain in another.

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Look up the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

 

 

If the customer does take legal action, this will be the route they take, so make sure you are familiar with it.

 

 

The first stage should be for the carpenter to go back and re-perform the work.

If he does not think it is necessary to re-do any work,

then he should take photos etc as evidence that all is satisfactory.

 

Does the carpenter belong to any trade association with a mediation or arbitration service,

as this could be offered to the customer.

 

 

It is much easier than court for all parties.

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