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I have never had to use CAG for this before, and I'm not sure if you can help as I am the creditor not the Debtor.

 

I have been in the building and maintenance industry for many years now, and never had a customer not pay.  yes I've had the odd one who asked if they could pay at the end of the month as they were a bit short of cash and I have always given them the time and in some cases knocked some money off the bill (mostly elderly or low income families)

 

. At the moment I have a problem with a customer and I am hoping for a bit of advice on the right way to move forward.

 

We were contacted by a client, who had a leak in his bathroom, in a buried pipe. He was collecting quotes for his insurance company and he picked ours.

 

We started the job and they asked us for an extra quote to retile the rest of the bathroom, as the insurance company would only pay for 2 walls. at which point we put in another quote for retiling the other 2 walls.

 

We finished the insurance job 2 days before the customer went on holiday. and have had communication with them that the insurance job had been signed off and they had the money in the bank from the insurance company.

 

When they got back off holiday we went in to finish the rest of the tiling.

During this time they had bought a a new bathroom suite and wanted that put in, when we tried to explain that wasn't covered by the quote the wife would shout and scream and say she had a contract, she wouldn't listen to us at all.

 

We decided to put in the bathroom suite free of charge as they were holding back the insurance money, we just wanted to get the job finished. Towards the end we only had 1 workman there instead of 2 as the other workman had to take 2 personal days due to his partners cancer. He was due to go back in on the third day. The first day back they even asked for another quote on putting some lights in.

 

On the second day the workman agreed with the customer what would be done that day and said that if he had time he would fit something that was due to be fitted on the third day.

 

It got to 3.30 before the workman had finished and because it meant turning the water off for a period of time (a few hours) he decided it was best left till the next day. because everything else had been done, the only jobs left required 2 men or turning water off,

 

when he told the wife he was finishing and would be back first thing with the other workman, she started screaming and shouting at him again, demanding he stayed.

 

Later that day (day 2 back in), we had an email telling us to collect our tools and not come back. we sent an email in response trying to sort things out and asked for the insurance job payment as that had been signed off over a month before

 

. We said we would not charge for the other quote as there was still a little left to do (replace 3 wall tiles that had cracked, fit a switch (requiring the water to be turned off), and raise the shower tray).

 

We have tried by email many times to try and come to an arrangement to go back in and finish, with him even agreeing to try and find a way forward. He did say he would try and find an agreement that suited both sides with himself as the sole point of contact, we agreed to try and find an agreement

 

said we had only 2 conditions, that he was the only and sole point of contact both on site and off and that we required a £500 token payment

 

. So far he has resisted all emails, when he sent us a mail showing what he said he owed, he had put in that he paid £900 more than he had, and missed a payment of £47 completely.

 

we sent a mail back pointing out both of these (all payments were by bank transfer so we can see the amounts). Now he says he will not pay the insurance money and that we are in breach of contract.

 

I am looking for advice on

a) if He asked us to collect our tools and not come back, and we have tried multiple times to finding an agreement to go back and finish, how are we in breach of contract. And

 

b) the insurance job was signed off both with the customer and the insurance agent how do we go about getting that paid

 

. So far I have offered a goodwill payment of £800 to cover the workmen for the extra tiling and a further goodwill payment of £900 which is the money he said he paid when he hadn't. On a £4,000 bill, that's a £1,700 reduction! we offered him this purely to get our people paid. 

 

c) He has put on his email that if we hand it to a debt collection firm then it would be classed as harassment...

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I'm removing two posts here – one because it refers to "… All from the same ethnic background" and the second one referring to the fact that the customer was Spanish.

The first, particularly by king12345 has a strong racist tone about it and is completely unwelcome here.  king1 2345 has been here long enough and knows very well that this is not what we do.

==============================================================================

 

In terms of the building and insurance problem, it certainly sounds if you are being treated very badly and we would be very happy to help. Unfortunately I find your story is rather unclear – probably because there is a lot of narrative and I'd be grateful if you could clarify your story and in particular breaking down the insurance job and the rest including giving their values.

Do you know if the insurance money has been paid to the customer or is the insurance company simply waiting for some kind of approval. You say that the insurance company has signed the job off and so this suggests to me that they are satisfied but what worries me is that they may already have paid the money to the customer who is merely withholding it from you rather than authorising the direct payment of the insurance money to you.

Your story needs substantial clarification please.

Finally, does your customer own the property? If you are not sure then you should consult the land registry website to ascertain the owner of the property


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OK - in a nutshell...

 

  • Customer has a leak in the wall behind the shower in their en-suite bathroom which has leaked into another bedroom and they claim on their buildings insurance.
  • We go in and inspect and quote for the repairs - this quote is forwarded, by the customer, to the insurance company who authorise them to go ahead with that quote.
  • When we arrive, the customer says that they want the rest of the bathroom tiled to match - we agree and quote £800.00 for the extra tiling.
  • The design for the tiling is varied, by the customer, to include two vertical mosaic stripes (the mosaic tiles being £12.50 each, plus a considerable increase in labour) - we point out that this will blow the materials budget - screaming ensues... we absorb the cost.
  • The customer purchases a new bathroom suite which they expect us to install as part of the £800.00 that we quoted for the tiling alone - when this pointed out, screaming ensues... we absorb the cost.
  • We complete the insurance repairs to both the bathroom and the bedroom on the other side of the wall.
  • The customer says that they are happy with the insurance repairs, inform the insurance company of the fact and receive the final insurance payment.
  • Some snagging is required on the extras - one of our guys goes in to sort out the odd bits.
  • Customer freaks out because only one person has turned up to do the snagging - tells the man on site to take his tools and go.
  • Customer will now not release the insurance money because the snagging has not been completed and claims that we're in breach of contract.

 

The insurance money HAS been paid to the customer - they signed off that the insurance based repairs were complete and satisfactory.

It's the customer that's holding on to the money.

The property is a ground floor flat - so it's leasehold.

 

I was pointing out that she's European - not any particular "ethnic background"...

 

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Oh - and now he's threatening to get some other firm in to complete the snagging - and any amount over what they have had from the insurance company will be down to us.... Knowing this chap, he'll put a quote in for £10,000 to replace a chipped tile...

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Thank you. You haven't told us the values of the insurance work and of the additional work.

I'm afraid that your comment about her being Spanish didn't look so good in the context of the other post talking about ethnicity. I would suggest that you stay clear of this kind of talk.

You say that the property is leasehold. I'm assuming that the customer is the leaseholder.  Please confirm.

Have you informed the insurance company of this problem?

How much of any of this – especially the quotations for the additional work is in writing?


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Initial estimate was £8,284.88 - another £1,500 was added on when we found that a wall needed to be rebuilt - the extras were agreed verbally, but I have a couple of emails where he has said that the extras were £800. From the insurance company's point of view, it's nothing to do with them - they just supplied the money to get the work done - after that it's down to the customer.

 

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Thank you for this but you aren't addressing the question.

I want to know the value of the insurance job. Presumably the insurers approved a particular quotation – how much was that? How much money have they paid to your customer in respect of that job?

Secondly, I want to know the value of the additional work – as a separate contract.


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You also haven't addressed the question as to whether it is your customer who is the leaseholder?

It would be helpful if you really would address the questions as they are asked because otherwise it just extends this exchange unnecessarily makes it far more difficult in a forum situation


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23 minutes ago, Mandorallan said:

Initial estimate was £8,284.88 - another £1,500 was added on when we found that a wall needed to be rebuilt - the extras were agreed verbally, but I have a couple of emails where he has said that the extras were £800. From the insurance company's point of view, it's nothing to do with them - they just supplied the money to get the work done - after that it's down to the customer.

 

There's the initial insurance job - £8,284.88 - that was the original quote. A further £1,500 was added to the insurance claim to rebuild a wall - so the total would be £9,784.88.

 

2 hours ago, Mandorallan said:

The property is a ground floor flat - so it's leasehold.

 

As I said - it's leasehold! He's the leaseholder...

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Thank you. I think that you are going to need to treat this work as two separate contracts and they will require slightly different approaches.

I notice that you haven't answered the question as to the cost of the additional work – I'm talking about the bathroom or tiling et cetera. It's getting rather confused. Is that the £800? Can we take it that the non-insurance job was worth £800?

In terms of the insurance job, presumably this is all written up into a quote, an insurance approval, and the final sign off by the insurer. Have you got all of these in writing?

I think you should have to move quickly on the insurance job and you will have to begin a legal action in the small claims court. Are you prepared to take that action?


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Incidentally, how do you know that they are the leaseholder and not merely the tenant of a leaseholder?

Also I understand from what you have said, that the snagging list has nothing to do with the insurance job which has been fully signed off. The snagging list is for the additional work – the £800 job?


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2 hours ago, Mandorallan said:

When we arrive, the customer says that they want the rest of the bathroom tiled to match - we agree and quote £800.00 for the extra tiling.

 

The buildings insurance is through the building management company - if he were only a tenant of the leaseholder, then we would have been talking to the leaseholder.

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And you confirm that the additional non-insured work is £800? And that it is that work which is subject to the snagging but not the insurance work?

You didn't address these questions

You also didn't confirm whether you had the information that I listed, all in writing?


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Sorry, which is correct? The £800 or that you have all the information in writing?

You see how difficult it becomes when questions aren't addressed as they are asked


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Still no response to the questions I am asking but I think that the matter is fairly urgent because your customer has had over £9000 placed in their hands and you need to sort this out before the money is spent on other things.

Also, I think that there is a way forward to handle this aggressively but unless you engage with this thread, we will not be able to progress


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Initial payments have already come in - we wouldn't have started otherwise. There's about £3,500 outstanding. The £800 was verbally agreed initially, but later correspondence from the customer shows that he's accepted the £800 for the extra work.

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So to summarise:
there were two jobs – one insurance job for about £9500 and a second job which was eventually agreed at £800

  • The insurance work proceeded satisfactorily – or at least sufficiently satisfactorily to satisfy the insurer and you receive staged payments so that there is about £3500 of the insurance job outstanding.
  • The customer has already received full payment from the insurer because the insurer has signed off on the work.
  • The customer is withholding about £3500
  • no one has raised any issues as to the quality of the insurance work
  • the snagging list is merely in respect of the £800 job
  • the customer is withholding the £3500 balance of the insurance payment plus also the £800 because she is dissatisfied with some aspects of the £800 job. (I'm not saying whether or not she is justified)


This is the story as I understand it.

First of all, I want to deal in this thread only with the insurance work. Please will you start a new thread for the £800 job because I think that it will be helpful to you if you treat both issues as completely separate contracts and that if you bring a court claim, you will bring separate claims for each issue.

However, I predict that eventually they will attempt to negotiate away the £800 in return for paying you the £3500 insurance money. I expect for your customer, a satisfactory outcome would be to get all of the work within the insurance price.
If this is correct then you will eventually have to make a decision as to how badly or quickly you want the money.

However, at the moment I would suggest that you write a letter to the customer in the form of a letter of claim giving 14 days to hand out the £3500 or you will be in a court action and without any further notice. From what you say, there seems to be little point in negotiating – unless you want to suggest giving up the £800 in return for doing the snagging and bringing the whole matter to an end.

This would have the advantage of getting you the bulk of the money you are owed and would also mean that you won't have to be involved bringing a court claim even though there is a fairly simple matter nowadays – and you can carry on running your building business and put this unpleasant customer behind you.

If that's what you want to do then I would suggest trying to contact her by telephone, making the suggestion that you might be able to negotiate a further reduction if she will allow you into the property to deal with the snagging. Please read our customer services guide and implement the advice there so that you have records of everything that is said. If you do enter into this kind of negotiated agreement then I suggest that you put it down in writing and sent her a letter which records what you have agreed. If you get access to the property in this way then I suggest that you take photographs of work which has been done and any complaints about snagging et cetera. For future reference, I would suggest that you photograph all your work in case this kind of thing ever happens again.

If you feel sufficiently angry and motivated then you may decide to proceed for the missing £3500.

As I have said, I would send her a letter making it clear that all of the work which was authorised by the insurer has been carried out and it has been carried out to a satisfactory standard and that they, the customer, is not raised any issues or complaints. The insurance work is complete.

However, you don't understand why they are hanging on to £3500 apparently in respect of certain complaints which they have about separate work which was not part of the insurance quote and which forms part of a separate contract. (The point here is to emphasise the fact that you are dealing with completely separate issues).

Point out also that as your attempt to discuss the matter with them have been rebuffed, you have no other option than to issue a claim in the County Court for the outstanding balance of £3500 And that you will begin this claim in 14 days without any further notice. Point out that the claim will be for the outstanding £3500 plus interest plus the costs of bringing the claim.

If you're prepared to do this then I would suggest that you find the address of your customer's local court and start the claim over the counter using a form N1. We will help you draft the claim – it will be a very easy process. Normally speaking we would advise people here to start the claims online using the courts money claim system but in this case it seems to me that there is absolutely no defence to your claim and so I think that your best interests are in issuing the claim, waiting until there is either an acknowledgement or a defence and then making an application for summary judgement. A summary judgement is where you make a special application to the judge pointing out that there is really no issue here to be tried and that the defendant has no chance of succeeding at trial and therefore you simply want judgement to be given almost automatically. In the application you would also propose to the court that in the circumstances if the court did not feel minded to grant a summary judgement that they would then allow the defendant to continue to resist the claim but only on condition that the money claimed is paid into court – as a kind of bond or deposit if you like.

This would make sure that the defendant parted with the £3500 and that the money was available to you in the event that you won your case – as you surely will.

Please have a look at this proposed plan of action and let me have your comments. As I have already said, in terms of the £800 job please start a separate thread.


 


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Form N1 – used for making an over-the-counter claim on paper - https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/688390/n1-eng.pdf

 

Form N244 – you would use this for making an application for summary judgement https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/732360/N244_web_0818.pdf

 

Please note that the cost of making an application using form N244 is about £200 now. You'd get this back if you win


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A further piece of advice – don't attempt these procedures without our help and without our assistance in drafting the documents.

Also, we'd be grateful if you would keep us updated – even if you simply agree a settlement


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All we've done is used a template to give him 14 days to pay the insurance bill - as soon as I get a reply, I'll post it up.

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If you have sent a 14 day letter of claim, then make sure that on day 15 you issue the claim.

In order to do that you must be fully prepared and so I would suggest that you start preparing the N1 form ready to go. It is very important with these things that threats are followed up and that nobody gets the impression that you are bluffing.

You should be aware of all the steps to take before you start the process – meaning before you send the letter of claim. If you have sent a letter of claim then start preparing the N1 now. Post up the draft here


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Additionally, assuming you get your judgement – and on the basis of what you have told us then it will be inevitable, you should be prepared to enforce the judgement by means of a High Court enforcement process which you are entitled to do if the judgement is for more than £600.

High Court enforcement typically costs anything up to £2000 and this cost will be borne by the defendant. You will have an initial outlay to begin the process of about £66 which you will get back once the judgement is enforced.


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I was thinking of handing it over to debt collection, actually - I know that there's a cost...

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What do you mean by "debt collection"?

You should discuss this with us first.


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