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Client asking for refund on carpentry job


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Hello, 
 

My husband is a self employed carpenter. He has another job too and the carpentry is a business that he hopes to do full time one day. I help him with emails and telephone calls etc. 
A lady contacted us at the beginning of the year as she'd seen a post on our facebook page showing a picture of a recycling bin storage unit that my husband had made. 

She said she wanted one a bit like that and asked how much. I explained that as the unit was built some time ago, we would need to get a price for materials in order to give her a fixed quote, but gave her an estimate. She said it was a bit much, and would one without a door make any difference, to which I replied, not a lot, but we can make a simpler design. She agreed and we went and met her and her husband, my husband took measurements of the space she wanted it in, we had a chat about what she wanted it to look like etc and she was very laid back and just said "just something that hides the unsightly recycle bins, it doesn't have to look exactly like the one in the picture" and my husband told her it wouldn't look exactly the same anyway as he doesn't make everything identical and that the one in the picture the door turned out to be a bit too heavy. 

So we got a quote for materials and I phoned her with a quote and she said it was too much. I came down to a price she was happy with but explained it would mean that it would be slightly less detailed and she was happy with that. She paid the deposit by BACS in order for us to purchase materials up front. One month later I contacted her and arranged for us to deliver the item to her. 
We got there and she was delighted, and her and her husband seemed very happy. She paid the rest of the balance in cash and was very chatty and friendly. 

We showed her how the bins fit in and my husband secured it into the place she wanted it. 
 

Got home to an email from her "I'm not at all happy with it, it's bigger than the one in the picture and the door isn't the same". 
Husband called her and she was very angry, shouting at him that it's an eye sore and that he must come back and make it smaller, to which he calmly replied that he would be unable to do as it would mean completely taking it all apart and ordering different sized pieces of timber. He confirmed that the measurements were the same as the one in the picture (we actually went and measured the one in the picture and it was actually smaller bigger than the one she bought) but she just kept saying "it's not what I expected, it looks bigger and the door is not the same". 
She then sent an email saying that the item is not what she expected and therefore she wants a full refund and included her bank details. 

Now, as I understand it, because the 14 day cooling off period ended 14 days after she paid the deposit and agreed (contracted) to go ahead, that she is no longer covered under that. I also believe that because she was happy with it when we delivered it and paid the remaining balance, that that means that the transaction is complete. 
I will add that we are not in a position to refund her money - 60% of it went on materials and the rest we used to put fuel in the vehicle and then did a food shop. We live hand to mouth, any money made from the business goes straight into the household. 

The item is fit for purpose, the measurements are the same as the "one in the photo" and match the space we measured on our first visit. 
It seems that this is a case of she simply doesn't like the way it looks. I have the e-mails where it states the door won't be the same and that she was happy with this. Thoughts on this?
 

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Now, as I understand it, because the 14 day cooling off period ended 14 days after she paid the deposit and agreed (contracted) to go ahead, that she is no longer covered under that. 

 

Not applicable anyway as the item was bespoke 

 

Andy

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So do you mean she hasn't a leg to stand on?

 

I meant to say too that all items he builds are bespoke and he designs them and builds them from scratch, the timber is cut to order from a local sawmill.

 

The client said she didn't need to see design drawings beforehand. 

The business is literally not making any money (yearly outgoings such as vehicle running costs, tools and insurance are more than income at the moment). 

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9 minutes ago, thedryad said:

So do you mean she hasn't a leg to stand on?

 

Correct

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Thank you.

 

Can you clarify the grounds on which she cannot take this further (i.e. threaten small claims, trading standards etc).

 

I am of the understanding that Trading Standards would simply advise her of her rights and that they don't take on cases. 

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She can try to take it further......but it will be in vain and further loss to herself. She wouldn't have paid the balance if she was not happy with her product.

 

https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-do-i-cancel-an-online-order-ah8tt8e97qxi

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Thank you. Would this count as an online order though? It was a verbal agreement confirmed by email when she paid the deposit and then of course completed the transaction in person when she paid cash in acceptance for the item delivered. By paying the remaining balance she accepted the item and the transaction was complete, am I right?

 

she is arguing that it is misrepresented and she did not get what she paid for. But she should have said something when it was delivered and not handed over the cash all smiley and happy. 

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Distance selling.....unless she was in your front room and asked for it verbally.

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This is the one in the photo that she said she wanted one like: 
 
 
And this is the one that my husband made for her (with a different door catch as she requested).
 
This is it at her house after delivery, being used! 
bin_storage.jpg (480×640) (filebin.net)

 

The first picture is of the one she said she wanted her's to look like. The last three are the ones my husband made for her, the last one is of it after it was delivered to her, with her bins in it (being used). 

 

 

photos.pdf

 

So, honestly, given that she had accepted that it wouldn't be exactly like the one in the original photo and that my husband had to change the design to suit her needs (given the location of where it was going to be, allow more air flow etc).. 

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Looks a great job ...exactly what a Bin shed should look like.

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She claims it was "misrepresented" but we disagree - is that down to interpretation? She is saying it looks different and it much much bigger than expected, yet how can she know that unless she asked for measurements of the "one in the picture" (she did not" and neither did she discuss measurements with us - my husband took measurements of the space where she wanted it to go and she was happy with what was discussed. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

She has sent a "letter before court" and states:
"I am once again requesting a full refund of the purchase price of £260 on the grounds that
the goods were not of satisfactory quality under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The goods
are unused and available for collection and resale.
I would like a reply as soon as possible so that I know you have received this letter/email. If I
do not receive a satisfactory response from you within 14 days of the date of this letter, I
intend to issue proceedings against you in the county court without further notice. This may
increase your liability for costs.
I refer you to the Practice Direction on pre-action conduct under the Civil Procedure Rules,
and in particular to paragraph 13-16 which sets out the sanctions the court may impose if
you fail to comply with the Practice Direction."

 

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Simply respond...you are in receipt of their notice dated xxxxx. As previously advised the item was a bespoke item built to your specifications and approval on delivery. The item in question is not subject to the cancellation rights of the  Consumer Rights Act 2015.

 

Only faulty items may be considered for a partial refund under the CRA2015 but in this instance you inspected and paid the balance on delivery and therefore was satisfied with the bespoke item.

 

Any court claim will be vigorously defended with costs.

 

Yours sincerely 

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Well thanks everyone for your comments and help and confirming what I already suspected, that she doesn't have a case. We're not scared of being taken to court or having a CCJ, in the unlikely case that she won.

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In the unlikely event she won at court, you can still avoid a CCJ being registered against you by settling in full within 30, including court fees.

 

This would avoid the CCJ showing on your credit files for 6 years.

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