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Topic # 113722 25-Jan-2013 18:37 Send private message

Got a verbal quote for some minor work on my house a few months ago. The guy gave as a verbal quote and said that labour would be a couple of hours @60 per hour, and parts about $30, so the job should come to no more than $200. I could have done the work myself, but I wanted to make sure it was done right and that I received a code of compliance certificate. 

So I employed them to do the work,as  it was about how much I thought it would be.  There were no unknowns and no unforeseen things in the job, it was very straight forward and simple and I was there while they did it.
But the guy was on and off the job for the best part of 4-5 hours. They were just really slow. That included lunch, going back to the shop to get parts, morning tea etc.

So a few weeks ago I get the bill for over $500 which was a shock. If I had known it would cost that I would have got other quotes. It was a very simple job and I had done all the prep work. So I phoned them and told them that I was quoted $150- $200 verbally and why the bill was nearly 3 times the amount quoted. I was told someone would get back to me. Never heard back, so I wrote a letter disputing the account and sending them payment for about $260 odd dollars, and requesting the code of compliance certificate which has never been issued. I paid for all the parts they listed, and 2 hours of labour as was quoted, which I thought was more than reasonable, and the amount I paid was still a lot more than they quoted. I didn't hear back from them. Today I get a letter from their liquidators to tell me that the company is now in liquidation, and they are claiming the balance from me. 

To date I have yet to receive the code of compliance, so the contract was never completed by them, and that was the main reason I had paid for the job to be done in the first place. This is required as proof that the job has been done by a qualified professional for anyone buying the house. 
 
Just wondering what people think I should do. As I never got a code of compliance, I am now going to have to pay for another company to check the work done is upto standard and issue this, which is a cost, and whether I can claim this from the liquidator, and become a creditor. I probably have no chance though of getting a refund or the code of compliance from them. Obviously I am going to dispute it now with the liquidator, but again it's another company who won't accept phone calls, and want it all in writing to them. I have already written to dispute the account once, but that obviously hasn't been forwarded to the liquidators.
The thing is that this company I used is part of a major chain, and it is just the local business that is in liquidation and not the entire brand/chain, so that is one possible avenue to explore. But I think they could be a franchise system, so I am not sure how much use they will be.

This is probably another warning for people to always make sure to get quotes in writing. But then again it should have been a small value job, and they have nothing in writing to show that I agreed to pay more than $500 for the job. They also didn't offer a written quote.

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  Reply # 750910 25-Jan-2013 18:53 Send private message

I'd write back saying you had a verbal quote for whatever it was, document everything, and that you were disputing the bill. They'll probably not bother with it, but if they do I suggest you tell them you'd be happy to discuss it in the disputes tribunal.

NB: IANAL, and I've had a rum, but that just seems like common sense.




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  Reply # 750916 25-Jan-2013 19:04 Send private message

Just be wary, was it a quote. Or an estimate. Theres a large difference in a business world.

Estimates can change, they are a GUESS, but the likes of a written quote, Is a lot more firm.

Unless you have firm proof it was a quote, and not an estimate.. there may not be a lot you can do.

http://www.cab.org.nz/vat/consumer/bts/Pages/EstimatesandQuotes.aspx

We have struck this at work ourselves. And have to word things carefully.

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  Reply # 750920 25-Jan-2013 19:14 Send private message

Although the work is complete, are you able to get written quotes from other companies (builders)?
These could also be used in your argument.
Did the company offer up any reasons as to why the job took longer than quoted / estimated?




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  Reply # 750924 25-Jan-2013 19:22 Send private message

Oblivian: Just be wary, was it a quote. Or an estimate. Theres a large difference in a business world.

Estimates can change, they are a GUESS, but the likes of a written quote, Is a lot more firm.

Unless you have firm proof it was a quote, and not an estimate.. there may not be a lot you can do.

http://www.cab.org.nz/vat/consumer/bts/Pages/EstimatesandQuotes.aspx

We have struck this at work ourselves. And have to word things carefully.


Thanks for your reply They did probably word the $150 as an estimate, but they did say that it would be no more than $200, so I took the $200 as the quote, as that provided a ceiling for maximum cost. Looking back I probably shouldn't have paid more than that ceiling price. It does say on the CAB article that the quote should be no more than 10% of the estimate anyway. There's is closer to 300% Also if a company provides an estimate, and the actual job is going to cost more, you would expect them to say that during the job. 
Does make me think twice before hiring another professional for a job that I could have done myself. Far less hassle doing stuff yourself if you know what you are doing, and just get someone to check it to issue the code of compliance.



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  Reply # 750925 25-Jan-2013 19:27 Send private message

MikeSkyrme: Although the work is complete, are you able to get written quotes from other companies (builders)?
These could also be used in your argument.
Did the company offer up any reasons as to why the job took longer than quoted / estimated?


No explanation, and they went into liquidation about a week after I complained. Reading the liquidators report, it looks ike they have had problems for a while well before I used them. 
Thanks for the suggestion, I may get someone else to price it, although that may be an additional cost, as I doubt a builder would do it for free since the job is done. It is possibly something the liquidators could do, if they are going to pursue the debt, and I would have to put in a counter claim against them for my costs if I have to pay for someone else to price for the job. $200 odd dollars is probably not worth their time to be honest considering the hourly rates they charge, so just disputing it maybe enough. Otherwise I would fight them on the principle.

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  Reply # 750926 25-Jan-2013 19:38 Send private message

The debt is one thing, but I think the larger issue is that you have been left with un-certified work. I can't see any other option other than to get someone else in to do an inspection and hopefully provide a certificate.

Personally I would send the liquidators the bill for the extra costs incurred. You will however just be an unsecured creditor. You may be able to negotiate a solution by dropping your claim if they drop theirs.




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  Reply # 750928 25-Jan-2013 19:46 Send private message

scuwp: The debt is one thing, but I think the larger issue is that you have been left with un-certified work. I can't see any other option other than to get someone else in to do an inspection and hopefully provide a certificate.

Personally I would send the liquidators the bill for the extra costs incurred. You will however just be an unsecured creditor. You may be able to negotiate a solution by dropping your claim if they drop theirs.


Thanks, yes you are right. This is where I may ask the parent company/brand to step up to the plate, as I think they should stand behind the work of on of their businesses, if they have gone under. Especially considering all the marketing they use on their website, such as reliability and dependability and professionalism etc. 

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  Reply # 752535 29-Jan-2013 11:55 Send private message

Sorry if I missed this, but what kind of work was this? if it was electrical, I may have part of a solution for you.

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  Reply # 752582 29-Jan-2013 12:32 Send private message

mattwnz:
scuwp: The debt is one thing, but I think the larger issue is that you have been left with un-certified work. I can't see any other option other than to get someone else in to do an inspection and hopefully provide a certificate.

Personally I would send the liquidators the bill for the extra costs incurred. You will however just be an unsecured creditor. You may be able to negotiate a solution by dropping your claim if they drop theirs.


Thanks, yes you are right. This is where I may ask the parent company/brand to step up to the plate, as I think they should stand behind the work of on of their businesses, if they have gone under. Especially considering all the marketing they use on their website, such as reliability and dependability and professionalism etc. 


This makes me laugh!

My brother in law was having a house built by a franchise that went belly up, the franchise owner didn't want a bar of it and offered NO support at all. The franchise was up and running again a month later with a different owner, in the same building, my brother in law was out $60,000.





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  Reply # 752827 29-Jan-2013 18:10 Send private message

Interested to know which company. With our new house we went with GJ Gardner thinking it would be quality. It is not bad, but it is certainly on a budget with a number of things done poorly and requiring repair (unlike the smart show home and the adverts). However, one thing they pushed is a guarantee that if the franchise goes under then the project will be completed by another.




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  Reply # 752841 29-Jan-2013 18:30 Send private message

Niel: Interested to know which company. With our new house we went with GJ Gardner thinking it would be quality. It is not bad, but it is certainly on a budget with a number of things done poorly and requiring repair (unlike the smart show home and the adverts). However, one thing they pushed is a guarantee that if the franchise goes under then the project will be completed by another.


My brother in law was not told about the garantee, only the master builder garantee.




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  Reply # 752862 29-Jan-2013 19:20 Send private message

Niel: Interested to know which company. With our new house we went with GJ Gardner thinking it would be quality. It is not bad, but it is certainly on a budget with a number of things done poorly and requiring repair (unlike the smart show home and the adverts). However, one thing they pushed is a guarantee that if the franchise goes under then the project will be completed by another.


I don't want to mention names online, as it is all searchable through google. However this is something you should get a guarantee on

"If the franchise goes under then the project will be completed by another."

 That should be in their marketing too, to give people piece of mind.

Also make sure you don't pay more than the amount of work they have actually completed if you are doing progress payments. Or make payment into a trust account of some type.


To update, the liquidator has wiped the bill, probably because it wasn't worth the effort in defending it. We have requested the main franchise to issue a code of compliance which we are still waiting on, but it so far looks positive, as they have forwarded it to another franchisee to manage.

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  Reply # 752955 29-Jan-2013 22:00 Send private message

For every progress payment our bank required a "cost to complete" valuation relative to the off-plans initial loan approval valuation. A couple of times we had to cover the shortfall, but we had access to short term cash so for us was not an issue. But something to be aware of (sorry, a bit OT). We knew the final valuation would be significantly more than the off-plans valuation, so we were not too worried.

Builders also know that lately banks do not release the final payment until there is a code of compliance certificate, so they don't (should not) push for final payment before the CoCC is available.

Glad to hear the liquidators dropped it. Often just to get money from anywhere (who cares where) they would scare people into paying while they have no intention of acting on the threat - which would be stupid when they do not have a contract to support the invoice.




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  Reply # 755628 4-Feb-2013 15:39 Send private message

You cannot in any situation accept a verbal quote. It's not a quote at all, it's just some speculation.
If it's not written down they can deny they ever said it quite happily.

Always ask for a written (and dated) quote, and always accept while the quote is still current, if you accept afterwards they can just say that the price went up after that period.



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  Reply # 755652 4-Feb-2013 16:12 Send private message

Incindre: You cannot in any situation accept a verbal quote. It's not a quote at all, it's just some speculation.
If it's not written down they can deny they ever said it quite happily.

Always ask for a written (and dated) quote, and always accept while the quote is still current, if you accept afterwards they can just say that the price went up after that period.


They did write it down in their own book, so there was still a record of it. Just that I didn't get that myself. Although in contract law, verbal quotes should be as enforcable as written ones, and neither party would have a written record to dispute it with. But it is all resolved now, just waiting for the code of compliance to be issued, as the overall franchise are trying to located the original person who did the work, to issue it. Just a real hassle to deal with companies that go into liquidation.

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