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#36620 - 04/10/04 07:47 PM Stiffed.
Delectric Offline

Registered: 02/19/04
Posts: 33
Loc: Silver Springs, NV
The last time I was here I was an Electrician (Stingray) now I am a contractor (Delectric), Its been quite awhile. Anyway about 2 months ago I actually started working for myself and all has been well until yesterday. I finished a job as written on the bid with one exception. I had been at this location for double the calculated time because I was nice enough to ad extras for nothing and then the last item coulnd't be done because of the wrong part. I said I would be back in a week. (had to jump to another job)No problem with that except I wanted some compensation for work completed, especially since all the extras were done. I asked for 3/4 of the bid even though the bid was complete with one minor exception. The customer asked for more work to be done even though it was not part of the bid (he has a copy and we went over it prior to working. Trying to accomodate, I agreed, but in a week. Again I asked for 3/4's of the pay and he refused saying he didn't feel that much was done. He tried to give me 1/2 and I refused (this after arguing for 1-1/2 hours), I left after telling him I would file a lien ( I'm trying to keep this short). What would some of you do?
One of the better ones-
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#36621 - 04/10/04 08:23 PM Re: Stiffed.
hbiss Offline

Registered: 12/16/03
Posts: 893
Loc: Hawthorne, NY USA
First problem I see is that I assume you didn't get anything up front. If they balk at paying a percentage up front then I wouldn't walk, I would run!

Second, don't do anything for nothing! Get the extras in writing with costs.

I don't know how big this job is or what exactly remains from the actual contract and it's cost. I would like to see you complete the contract because then there can be no dispute that you defaulted.

I don't know how you are going to do this now seeing how you p***ed this guy off even though he deserved it. Sometimes it's better to hold your tongue and finish your work and then demand payment.


#36622 - 04/10/04 09:08 PM Re: Stiffed.
DougW Offline

Registered: 06/08/03
Posts: 1083
Loc: North Chicago, IL
Was payment specified in the Bid? If it's listed as payment upon completion, it's up to him to be a nice guy (and it sounds like you're screwed if that's the case)- at least as far as an early payment. If it's not spelled out, here's an idea...

Go over the job, and write out a description, point by point, while it's fresh in your mind.

List all the bid items, and time required for their completion. Location on the premises, materials used (including brand names), EVERYTHING.

List all the extras (and hopefully who/when authorized), and the time for their completion.

Get your supplier to write a statement if it was a distributor/supplier fault about the part. If it was ordered by your customer (wrongly), spell that out too.

Write a nice letter, explaining the status of the job, since there "appears to be a mild disagreement over the state of completion".

Mention that, due to the extras HE requested, if you were working a T&M job, he'd really owe you this much... "$X+"

But, you tell him, the bid is for "$X", as we agreed.

You're asking for "$Y" at this time, which represents % of X - tasks/time that can be proven to be accomplished that were in the original bid.

State your willingness and intent to complete the rest of the tasks listed in the bid at the earliest possible convenience.

Send it registered mail / return receipt. You may even want to send a copy to your permitting AHJ - some get real sticky about HO/contractor disputes.

Contact him (note date and time - cell bills ARE court admissible) and schedule your time needed to finish the original work if he doesn't contact you within 5 business days of his receiving your letter.

If he fails to pay upon completion, you have him by the nuts. Unfortunately, without written change orders, your "extras" could be argued by his attorney as "f*in around".. killing time that could have been used to complete the original scope of work. (even though it's not your fault, the argument could still be made - it's an american court after all)

Finish the original job. (quickly, but code-worthy) Then bill him.

If needed, then sue him.

As far as suing for a partially completed job? Hbiss used the magic word "default"... if you have completed 99% and then unilaterally call the job done, you still (legally) haven't complied with your contractual bargain, and you'll have to argue to be paid for the time you have put in.

Good luck.

#36623 - 04/10/04 09:13 PM Re: Stiffed.
Electric Ian Offline

Registered: 02/10/04
Posts: 132
Loc: MA, USA
How much money are you talking about here?
I woould suggest you send the customer an invoice for the work completed. This way you have a written record of the work you have completed and the amount due for said work. If you're not talking more than a thousand or so dollars you're best bet might be small claims court. Sorry to hear you got stiffed. It's an unfortunate situation but you'll find over time (like I have) that there are more people like this out there than you might think. Protect yourself with a written contract up front whenever possible.

#36624 - 04/11/04 02:19 AM Re: Stiffed.
rizer Offline

Registered: 01/03/04
Posts: 90
Loc: bradenton ,fl.,usa
I agree with the idea of finishing the jopb. If he offers you half again take as fast as you can,( to his bank). Even half is better than nothing and you can bsattle the rest out later

#36625 - 04/11/04 04:03 AM Re: Stiffed.
Ever Ready Offline

Registered: 03/27/04
Posts: 40
Loc: Scotland
Sorry to hear about your misfortune, it has always been a problem but it seems to have mushroomed over the years, my old company always charged a daywork rate for extras and alterations on commercial and industrial installations,which could be anywhere between 120% (the norm) and 200% of the hourly rate.

#36626 - 04/11/04 08:56 AM Re: Stiffed.
Delectric Offline

Registered: 02/19/04
Posts: 33
Loc: Silver Springs, NV
Thanks for the input, I appreciate it. What really got to me is he has his own successful business and I think sub consciously was treating me like one of his employees not understanding my time is 75.00/hr not 6.00/hr. The funny thing is I'm not that bothered by the whole thing and feel it was a very good lesson and I got off cheap. The entire bid was $1200.00. This house is just a nightmare and I'm glad to be out of there. I am going to send a 20 day notice of a lien (or take in person to his business). I did offer to come back in a week to not only finish up (less than an hours time to complete) but also to do a few more things he requested for nothing. I really felt for his families sake and safety some things needed to be done which were minor and would take less than an a couple of hours to complete but I had to stop for a couple of other jobs. I really believe that what he did will be on his conscious (sounds stupid) and will bother he and his wife but who knows. Like I said I was very accomodating, anyway thanks again and it could have been much worse so if nothing else I'll chalk it up to experience and keep on keepin' on.
One of the better ones-
Electricians do it without shorts.

#36627 - 04/11/04 06:21 PM Re: Stiffed.
Electric Eagle Offline

Registered: 04/20/02
Posts: 928
Loc: Alpharetta, GA
You should feel very lucky to be learning this lesson at this cheap of a price. I know you may not feel lucky, but most of us paid a higher price.

There is no shortage of scumbags out there who take advantage of new contractors, both home owners and GC's. They take low bids even when they know you can't do it for that price and make any money and they get you to do all sorts of extras for little or no compensation. I used to wonder why I won almost all of my bids, I know I present well, but I still won too many. What I found was I was too cheap. Now, I would rather win less bids, but make a lot more on the ones I get. This higher price also weeds out a lot of bottom feeders.

#36628 - 04/11/04 08:09 PM Re: Stiffed.
Jps1006 Offline

Registered: 01/22/04
Posts: 609
Loc: Northern IL
I hate to say it, but you have to be carefull about being too nice to people. I have found through experience that the more you are willing to give to people and try to accomidate, the less they appreciate it. This doesn't go for everyone and that's why you have to be careful who you go out of your way for.

This is the best I understand the phenomonia:
People will treat you how you teach them to treat you (either directly or how they interpret). They will respect you to the extent you demand respect (either directly or through interpretation). Some who have a certain outlook on life seem to see people as nothing more than a means to get what THEY want with little thought about anyone else. (I have seen this before too with self-employed successful white collared people)-not biased about social classes, just citing a few personal experiences.

When you don't charge enough, they don't see it as "he's giving me a break. I appreciate it." They see it as "his time isn't worth very much, maybe he's worthless too".

When you start to give stuff away and "do favors" it is seen as "I am better than him because he is doing these things for me for free, and of course I deserve it. I'm just glad finally someone sees it as I do."

I try to make sure that the times I am "nice" to people, it is for people that value other peoples time and show respect. If I plan on giving something away, I usually imply they will be charged ahead of time. If they want it enough to be willing to pay, then they appreciate it that much more if it is free. But when they think it's free, boy how things from the [b]want[b] list start to creep over to the [b]need[b] list.

Employed with certain discretion, consider the following:

charge enough, your time is valuable to you (that tells them you expect them to see it that way too. You know yourself better than they do, so you should know)

Don't bend over backwards for them, again your time is valuable.

If it's very inconvienent for you, make them experience some inconvience too.

But on the flip side, always do what you say you will, be upfront, be on time, and be honest.

(editted to try to fix the (b)bold(b), ahh... I'll figure it out next time)

[This message has been edited by Jps1006 (edited 04-11-2004).]

#36629 - 04/11/04 08:32 PM Re: Stiffed.
maintenanceguy Offline

Registered: 12/02/01
Posts: 303
Loc: Southern NJ, USA
Depending on how big the job is, There should be a deposit upfront to keep the price shoppers and those with no intention to pay away.

There should be a schedule for progress payments. After a certain amount of work is done, yu get the next payment and work continues AFTER that payment is made. Structure these so you're always ahead, or a least not in a psition to lose your shirt if you have to walk away.

And every change, whether it's additional work or just a change gets done on a written change order, signed by both of you, that becomes an ademdum to the original contract. And every change costs money (maybe a $25 change order fee) to discourage indecisiveness. The reason for written change orders is 1: At the end of the project people can flrget what was discussed and if its not on paper you will end up re-doing something and 2) You need to get paid for extra work.

Edit: forgive the spelling. Its late, my glasses are in the bedroom, and I'm typing blind.

[This message has been edited by maintenanceguy (edited 04-11-2004).]

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