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Difficult Customer- Options Moving Forward- Help

 
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Old 03-18-2019, 12:02 AM   #1
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Difficult Customer- Options Moving Forward- Help


Hello guys, I'm new to the contracting world and 2nd year in business. I've learned a lot along the way, fishing through good subs and bad subs unfortunately.

First time dealing with a customer wanting an unrealistic request, actually demand.

So working on completing a 32 window project, most special order. After contract was signed, waited a week for payment to clear, 2 weeks later finalized the vendor I was going with and order was placed. Called back a month later to get update and status of windows, nothing yet. Called a week later only to find out the order was being held up for some odd reason at the manufacturer. Instead of telling customer this happened, I assured them that there was some confusion with the vendor and manufacturer and i've requested they expedite instead.

The manufacture was on back order as is cause they were approaching the holidays and was told to add an addtional 2-3 weeks. Finally got the windows right in early winter. Exterior project in the middle of winter is difficult, paint doesnt dry, caulking doesnt set correctly, wet conditions make it difficutl to climb ladders along with saturated ground (which this season was a really wet one) and cold temps pretty much delayed most of the project along with delivery delays, plus damaged windows that had to be reordered, etc.

It was a process to finally start and get going, customer understood, expressed a little frustration but overall in good spirits.

Long story short. All windows installed, metal capping around windows was a little snotty from the sub, but they werent done with their work so I was going to have the lead installer do his QC final walk through once he was done, correct his mistakes at his cost and after he gives me the green light, i do my own thorough walk through with customer to assure satisfaction.

Project never gets to the end. Customers son-inlaw jumps in, dissects the project, comes up with a huge punch list, doesnt let my original installers come back on site to fix and correct cause they had a dispute. I end up keeping them off site to make customer happy. I'm trying to get a new crew out there, but now customer has new demands.

Now customer wants me to complete the project (which I want to do), completely replace all metal capping (which I'm willing to do). Finish a $4500 change order at my expense (which I agreed to do for the inconveniences and delays) and Finally, customers son-inlaw wants me to forgive the final balance on the contract ($7000). I told him I cant do that. And now the son in-law is trying to call all the shots.

He wasnt on the contract or signed it, doesnt live there, not a project manager of any kind, not an agent or power of attorney. Should I tell him to F-off cause hes not on contract or just suck it up and work with him. But i'm not willing to forgive the final balance. He's touching himself if he thinks that.

Obviously there is more details but thats most of it. I tried to be truthful and accurate so someone reading can get a feel for the back story leading up to now. First time dealing with this kind of scenario and wanted some advice before getting carried away with a lawyer or going for a lien.

On top of that, this son inlaw wants to charge me $40 an hour to supervise my crews finishing up the project if we get back on-site hahaha. Tell me this kids is crazy? Which I have a clause in the contract stating he cant instruct or tell my guys what to do or interfere with work progress.

Let me know what you guys think. Thank you!
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Old 03-18-2019, 12:39 AM   #2
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Re: Difficult Customer- Options Moving Forward- Help


you lost control of the job either through inexperience or incompetence, likely both.

job was probably out of your wheelhouse anyways.

what to do now....

see an attorney and check what is enforceable on your contract.

why did you let a sub get away with sub-par work?

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Old 03-18-2019, 12:45 AM   #3
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Re: Difficult Customer- Options Moving Forward- Help


You really complicated that project. I got a call in early December for a job with 27 windows on a 2 story house in the North midwest. I asked the customer if they wanted to do it in December or Spring. They wanted December so we signed the papers, got the check and ordered. 10 days later the windows arrived and I demoed, installed, trimmed, and capped the windows and was one my way.

Fast forward 6 weeks and it was -30 outside. I got a text from her and was thinking this cant be good. She was just letting me know how warm she was and that she is glad we didn't wait

The point is people hire professionals because the don't want a long drawn out process. If they wanted to fumble through it they would order the windows and set up subs to install, trim and what ever else you have going on. You had her trust and then lost it. She has been telling her son the stories and is now involved regardless of if you want him to be or not. You need suppliers, subs and employees who help you keep your promises

Do you have a contract?
Have you done what was agreed to?
If you have they should pay even if the process was ugly unless it worth it to you to pay them to move on. 7k after a second exterior trim and what ever the change order is, is no small amount.

I might try to work it out to strive for a deal with a third party lawyer or arbitrator that you all agree to.
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Old 03-18-2019, 05:11 AM   #4
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Re: Difficult Customer- Options Moving Forward- Help


i wouldnt be happy either if I got the run around on time lines and quality. you need to start speaking to the owner and tell them.. here are your options. Option 1 they let you fix it. 2 you leave the job
unless you want to work for free... **** that.


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Old 03-18-2019, 05:56 AM   #5
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Re: Difficult Customer- Options Moving Forward- Help


You have a right to fix it. Even if you go to court the judge will ask "why didn't you get a chance to fix it"?

As for the son. Tell, the home owners that he is not signed on the contract therefore he can only consult them without interference. If he is around trades onsite he poses a safety risk.
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Old 03-18-2019, 08:08 AM   #6
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Re: Difficult Customer- Options Moving Forward- Help


Wow!
Keep the lawyers and judges out of it, that's just more expense and will extend the duration of this mess. You need to settle this quick. Sit down with the homeowner without the son in law if possible, come up with a plan that makes both parties happy, then get the darned job finished quickly.

In the future, same guy that installs the windows needs to do the exterior metal work, caulking, etc. so you don't have these problems.
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Old 03-18-2019, 09:28 AM   #7
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Re: Difficult Customer- Options Moving Forward- Help


You lost control of the job and need to get it back... your leverage is your contract and hopefully signed Change Order... you don't HAVE to forgive the CO, and your contract should make it easy for you to remove the SIL from the picture.

Since you've already acquiesced verbally, make it clear they can get the caps replaced as you stand by your work and the $4500 forgiven in consideration of the issues they've had to deal with, but not the $7000 balance...

You're going to want to document all this in a new CO with their signature to "avoid any miscommunications or misunderstanding" about what's expected going forward...

When meeting with the CUSTOMER, make it clear the SIL is not party to the contract, and he has no contractual or legal role in managing YOUR project and for insurance purposes cannot be onsite while your workers are there... sounds like the SIL may object (wanting $40/hour to supervise your guys ), but simply state you understand his concerns but you can only deal with the people you've contracted with and he is not a party to that...

Then get in there and do what you have to do to wrap it up in days, not weeks...
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Old 03-18-2019, 09:42 AM   #8
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Re: Difficult Customer- Options Moving Forward- Help


Quote:
Originally Posted by VAhome View Post
Hello guys, I'm new to the contracting world and 2nd year in business. I've learned a lot along the way, fishing through good subs and bad subs unfortunately.

First time dealing with a customer wanting an unrealistic request, actually demand.

So working on completing a 32 window project, most special order. After contract was signed, waited a week for payment to clear, 2 weeks later finalized the vendor I was going with and order was placed. Called back a month later to get update and status of windows, nothing yet. Called a week later only to find out the order was being held up for some odd reason at the manufacturer. Instead of telling customer this happened, I assured them that there was some confusion with the vendor and manufacturer and i've requested they expedite instead.

First mistake. Why not just be honest with them? Most people understand that you are not in control of the manufacturer or supplier.

The manufacture was on back order as is cause they were approaching the holidays and was told to add an addtional 2-3 weeks. Finally got the windows right in early winter. Exterior project in the middle of winter is difficult, paint doesnt dry, caulking doesnt set correctly, wet conditions make it difficutl to climb ladders along with saturated ground (which this season was a really wet one) and cold temps pretty much delayed most of the project along with delivery delays, plus damaged windows that had to be reordered, etc.

Then don't start. Don't even give the option. If you know that the job, or parts of it, are going to be FUBARED by the cold/wet/whatever, then just tell them "I'm sorry for all the delays, but in reality we couldn't have started the job until the weather broke anyway because cold wet weather takes a toll on several aspects of your project, and I want the job to be done right the first time and not have to inconvenience you again to do it over." (Even better if you tell them this upfront at contract time...then the lead time on the windows is of no consequence to them).

It was a process to finally start and get going, customer understood, expressed a little frustration but overall in good spirits.

Long story short. All windows installed, metal capping around windows was a little snotty from the sub, but they werent done with their work so I was going to have the lead installer do his QC final walk through once he was done, correct his mistakes at his cost and after he gives me the green light, i do my own thorough walk through with customer to assure satisfaction.

Address problems as you find them. Have them corrected as you find them. No reason to make the sub re-mobilize to punch out something you could have brought up while they were on site to begin with.

Project never gets to the end. Customers son-inlaw jumps in, dissects the project, comes up with a huge punch list, doesnt let my original installers come back on site to fix and correct cause they had a dispute. I end up keeping them off site to make customer happy. I'm trying to get a new crew out there, but now customer has new demands.

Tell SIL that he don't run your jobs or tell your subs when or where to be or not be and any disputes between the CLIENT (which is NOT him) and any subcontractors have to go through you for resolution. Naturally, it helps if this is in your contract, which I doubt it is.

Now customer wants me to complete the project (which I want to do), completely replace all metal capping (which I'm willing to do). Finish a $4500 change order at my expense (which I agreed to do for the inconveniences and delays) and Finally, customers son-inlaw wants me to forgive the final balance on the contract ($7000). I told him I cant do that. And now the son in-law is trying to call all the shots.

Yep, you lost it there. Nothing is free. Or at least YOU decide what you do for free, and a $4500 CO is a bit over the top for a "favor".

He wasnt on the contract or signed it, doesnt live there, not a project manager of any kind, not an agent or power of attorney. Should I tell him to F-off cause hes not on contract or just suck it up and work with him. But i'm not willing to forgive the final balance. He's touching himself if he thinks that.

Obviously there is more details but thats most of it. I tried to be truthful and accurate so someone reading can get a feel for the back story leading up to now. First time dealing with this kind of scenario and wanted some advice before getting carried away with a lawyer or going for a lien.

On top of that, this son inlaw wants to charge me $40 an hour to supervise my crews finishing up the project if we get back on-site hahaha. Tell me this kids is crazy? Which I have a clause in the contract stating he cant instruct or tell my guys what to do or interfere with work progress.

I stand corrected on that part then. So enforce it. If you wont abide by your contract, why do you think they would?

Let me know what you guys think. Thank you!
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Last edited by jproffer; 03-18-2019 at 09:45 AM.
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Old 03-18-2019, 09:49 AM   #9
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Re: Difficult Customer- Options Moving Forward- Help


Wait a minute.....................

They want $11,500 knocked off of................Good Lord, how much do you charge for 32 windows?? In this area, there wouldn't be much left after that discount.
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Old 03-18-2019, 10:11 AM   #10
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Re: Difficult Customer- Options Moving Forward- Help


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Old 03-18-2019, 10:21 AM   #11
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Re: Difficult Customer- Options Moving Forward- Help


Assuming that the OP has a contract, there is certainly a lot to add to it to avoid these issues in the future.

I have this stuff in mine, based on past experiences. If work is delayed, changed or altered in any way due to the actions of the client, client's contractor or any other person, or, entity associated with the client, then the client is in breach of the contract. Additional charges will apply.

My contract says it better than that, but you get the point. Either myself or my foreman run our jobs, that is it. If someone else wants to run our jobs, then get a contractor's license, certifications, insurance, bonds and submit a job application, and, I'll think about it.
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Old 03-19-2019, 01:08 AM   #12
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Re: Difficult Customer- Options Moving Forward- Help


Thank you all for the feedback, whether I want to hear it or not, it needs to be said. Of course these is a little more details along the way and I'll try my best to answer back to each.

GRIZ, yeah, the project lost control. But project was def doable. After repeated delays to weather and re-ordering of a few windows, you can imagine the customers frustration. But again, out of my control in those situations. That is why I offered the CO to be zero cost to them. Originally it was only a $3500 CO, and I have having customer pay for a new transom and storm door and I was going to install it for free. But after SIL told me he was demanding I forgive the final balance, I thought i would sweeten the deal a little to cover the cost of the transom and storm that way he would meet me half way. NEGATIVE, he told me I needed to sharpen my pencil a little more and that I was taking advantage of his MIL.

One thing I want to add that I may have forgotten to mention. This is for my wife's, bestfriend's mother. The SIL is the husband of the other sister in the family. I was shocked he made such a demand considering theres a relationship there. On top of that, I knocked off 10% off the total contract in the beginning just cause I knew her (her husband had just passed away a few months before so I wanted to help where I could) BIG F'ing mistake! Already told my partner I'm never dealing with family friends, maybe family, but never family friends. I admit, I let me guard down a little cause they were family friends. But no more.

Ed Hartmann, yes I do have a contract. I've completed 90% of the project but SIL jumped in before project was completed. If they told me tomorrow to forgive the final balance and not finish the work, I'd be happy to terminate the contract and wipe my hands clean at this point. Mediation might be worth a look at.

Cedarboarder, Not really the run around, legit delays from weather. It was in the middle of winter. Not going to get many good days to apply caulk and paint. I've tried to speak to owner who originally signed contract, but she doesnt answer. Only the SIL writes back saying he's in charge now and not to bother her moving forward.

Smpl, I've offered many times to fix it. Honestly anytime they deny it, I should just nip it in the butt and consider that a breach in the contract and put a lien on her. She's trying to sell the house later this summer so I'm sure she wants to stay away from that. We do contracts for other big store providers and one of their rules are to walk away if the customer starts getting hostile and not allowing us to do the work as proposed on the contract. Another breach really. We have a clause in the contract that states they can not instruct or be around the site where work is being performed. But now SIL wants to "supervise" my guys and get compensation for it haha.

Fishindude, I would much rather keep it out of court but mainly sharing my story to confirm I dont have as much to worry about as she/he does. I think the contract so far is in my favor and not sure he would win in this case. Same crew did windows and capping. But the helpers werent the best at capping which I found out later. But my lead installer was willing to correct the mistake but SIL jumped in before he could even get to it and doesnt want the original crew back on site.

KAP, I have both a signed contract and change order. Right now I do want to document what the final proposal is going to be, but the SIL is denying my final proposal. Told me I need to sharpen my pencil and come back and agree to his offer only, Otherwise he will call my insurance and search other ways to remedy this (basically he's trying to scare me with court, but so far from what i've heard from local contractors, I may have the upper hand. But thats why i'm sharing some details to confirm. Wish I could get rid of the SIL but as mentioned before, whether he is there legally or not, he will be a bird on her shoulder constantly telling her things. Honestly, I'd rather prefer he stay off site, wait for me to finish the job, finish my inspection and walk through with cust and hire a county inspector to confirm work is satisfactory, not the SIL.

Jproffer, I Shouldve done things a little different in the beginning but I think the majority of the drama happened the last 2 days of the project when the SIL walked on site and made demands. I thought he was just there to let us in the house. I shouldve started later due to weather, but she kept pushing to get it going and hope for better days. The $4500 CO was a bit on the high side, but felt i needed to "sweeten" the deal some to make sure they agreed to the proposal and allow me to collect the final balance. Still didnt help so I'm going to share timeline with a lawyer and go from there. SIL rejected my offer so for me, I feel like the offer is off the table. The Clause regarding the SIL trying to step in and instruct the subs is a breach as far as i'm concerned. Unfortunately, it never went that far cause my sub was only 15 mins on site before the SIL got in his face and told him what a horrible job he did. I felt the SIL was out of line and not his place, shouldve told me. As far as I'm concerned, not issues with windows themselves, the cosmetic stuff and capping is the only issue, which i've already agreed to repair to satisfactory.

Jproffer, If you take into consideration that $7k he wants me to forgive, plus the $4500 CO, then pay another sub to finish installing 3 small picture windows and the capping cause he doesnt want the original subs out there. We are looking in the range of somewhere around $15-16K total. But the part that needs repairing is not their fault, but now I have to pay someone else whereas before I was going to have the original sub repair at his cost for the mistake.

cwatbay, I'll def be updating my contracts and agreements. Its def opened my eyes to things that should be covered and mandatory.

So with all this being said, am I favored in this situation or due to delays and correction of issues on site put the ball in the SIL's court?

Thank you again for the feedback guys!
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Old 03-19-2019, 06:07 AM   #13
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Re: Difficult Customer- Options Moving Forward- Help


he said "family". Well, there ya go...
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Old 03-19-2019, 08:33 AM   #14
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Re: Difficult Customer- Options Moving Forward- Help


Quote:
Originally Posted by VAhome View Post
Jproffer, If you take into consideration that $7k he wants me to forgive, plus the $4500 CO, then pay another sub to finish installing 3 small picture windows and the capping cause he doesnt want the original subs out there. We are looking in the range of somewhere around $15-16K total. But the part that needs repairing is not their fault, but now I have to pay someone else whereas before I was going to have the original sub repair at his cost for the mistake.
And you still should. Tell them.....I'm sorry, tell YOUR client only... that if it's going to be fixed at all by you, then it will be fixed by the original installer(I.E.-Your Sub), whether she likes it or not. But as I said before, it helps if this is in your contract. THEY/SHE/HE don't get to determine how you work or who you choose to do the work.
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Old 03-19-2019, 08:41 AM   #15
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Re: Difficult Customer- Options Moving Forward- Help


Here are some specific clauses from our contract that apply to this situation:

Client recognizes and agrees that SEC/SSAS is the contractor and project manager, unless otherwise stated in writing.

Client recognizes and agrees that all: construction, installation, service, programming, and testing is to be under the sole responsibility and direction of SEC/SSAS, unless otherwise stated in writing.

Any actions by the Client, including but not limited to attempts at management, excessive communications with SEC/SSAS personnel, modification and/or alteration of the scope of work, changes to work site access, and any other action that results in additional time, labor and materials expense by SEC/SSAS will constitute a breach of this agreement, and, will result in additional time, labor and materials expense charges to the Client at standard retail rates.

If you fail to perform any material term or condition of this Agreement (e.g., fail to pay any charge when due) and such failure continues for thirty (30) days after receipt of written notice, you shall be in default and the Contractor may terminate this Agreement and exercise any available rights. Upon termination by the Contractor, you shall be liable for cancellation and/or termination charges and any other applicable charges
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Old 03-19-2019, 10:39 AM   #16
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Re: Difficult Customer- Options Moving Forward- Help


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Here are some specific clauses from our contract that apply to this situation:

Client recognizes and agrees that SEC/SSAS is the contractor and project manager, unless otherwise stated in writing.

Client recognizes and agrees that all: construction, installation, service, programming, and testing is to be under the sole responsibility and direction of SEC/SSAS, unless otherwise stated in writing.

Any actions by the Client, including but not limited to attempts at management, excessive communications with SEC/SSAS personnel, modification and/or alteration of the scope of work, changes to work site access, and any other action that results in additional time, labor and materials expense by SEC/SSAS will constitute a breach of this agreement, and, will result in additional time, labor and materials expense charges to the Client at standard retail rates.

If you fail to perform any material term or condition of this Agreement (e.g., fail to pay any charge when due) and such failure continues for thirty (30) days after receipt of written notice, you shall be in default and the Contractor may terminate this Agreement and exercise any available rights. Upon termination by the Contractor, you shall be liable for cancellation and/or termination charges and any other applicable charges
That's good stuff right there. I have a couple clauses that mention a little about that but not as detailed as you have it. I agree, my agreement and clauses need updating. And unfortunately, I would have avoided issues on this project should I had it looked over by an attorney and revised. Lesson learned.

I still do feel I have just enough in there to protect me so I'm going to see a lawyer so I can have an email drafted up and if they still disagree, then I'll move forward. Hopefully the SIL doesn't put his MIL in a hole or gets a lien on her home because of his ego. He has nothing to lose in this situation. Easy to run your mouth and can talk sh!t and not worry about the consequences. Hope the homeowner realizes by allowing the SIL to speak and coordinate on her behalf, she may be digging a bigger hole.

Thank you again for your the advice!
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Old 03-19-2019, 10:47 AM   #17
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Re: Difficult Customer- Options Moving Forward- Help


Here is another clause regarding breach of contract and what it constitutes:

Breach of Contract. The client breaches this contract by failing to make any payment when due, and/or by failing to abide by any other obligation which the client has under the client responsibilities portion of this contract. If a breach of this contract by the client continues for more than ten (10) days, SEC/SSAS may stop the work until all past due amounts have been received and all other client obligations have been performed, and in the absence of a signed Change Order allowing an upward adjustment in the contract price to compensate it for direct and indirect delay damages due to halted work or otherwise, SEC/SSAS may terminate the Contract and recover from the client contract damages, attorneys fees, costs of suit, and prejudgment interest on the unpaid balance from the due date until paid at the maximum rate allowed by law. The remedies provided for in this paragraph shall not prevent SEC/SSAS from exercising its rights under the construction lien laws of California or any other right it may have in law or equity."

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