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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok here goes..I have never been so frustrated in many many years here. I have a repeat customer I have been doing business with for years. He is a high end bean counter accountant. I will start here. He has a monster of a home in the high end of town where I live. This home has well over 2000 square foot cedar deck 2 leves with dual staricases and and spindle handrails all the way around.All in cedar. I stripped ceaned and resealed the deck 2 years ago for them. While there I replaced some rotten cedar boards( not many maybe 3 or 4) His total invoive was for over $4000.00 by the time he paid tax.Well here it is 2 years later he asks to have the deck redone.This time no rotten boards!!.So when I estimated this time I backed out $1100.00 from the estimate 2 years ago.I thought I was being a reasonable guy by not jacking the price on him.Like everything else has in life. so I told him that I have time and the weather is looking great for the week. He tells me to just go ahead and submit a bill to his secatary. I said no I dont work like that and that his estimate was going to be $2900.00 this time and I need a deposit of $1100.00 to cover expenses. I was in bit of a hurry due to weather concearns so I brought a skilled tradesman along with me to get the job done. well we got it done in 2 days.stripped clean and sealed. I submit the invoice for $ 2900 minus the deposit plus tax. he then sends a reply via emal stating that is not good enough. He wants a break down of what im charging. Thats funny he has never asked for that before?? So i provide him with a simple breakdown.as follows
$1500 labour
$ 800 materials
$ 500 to return in the spring to look it over and top up sealer where needed.
$100 for rentals (good pressure washer)
Then he says still not good enough he wants a breakdown of hourly weiges and material expenses ect. ect. I reply with I shouldnt have to do that seeing it was an estimated job and provided him with a breakdown on how I price my jobs and that in fact it isint any of his business how I run myme. An estimate is questionable before I begin not after the deposit has been given and the project is complete. so I folded and gave him a breakdown of what materials I used and how many jugs of each i used. I had to go to 4 different stores to get everything I needed. The cleaner was the better part of 30 a jug before tax and so was the sealer. Remember this is before tax.So ibumped it up to $50 a jug x 7 of each. He then replies he understands ark-up but not 250% to 400%?? I was blasted right then and there. So I ask him where he comes up with that figure and he says he found the same stuff for 12.95 a jug :eek:. So now I have an accountant that thinks he knows what what I used and how much I payed for it..Here is my question.I dont know where to turn with this guy. Im lost for the first time in 10 years.I have never had such an isue.what should I do? Any advice? I want to show him my recipts but I honestly feel that is my private business not his what I charge for mark-up. Lets say the product was $35 tax in is $50 a jug fair mark-up in your professional opinion? Remember I had to go to 4 differnt stores to get enough product to complete the project.Please if you think i have done somthing wrong I want to hear it.I can use all the help i can get on this so it never happens again.
signed Lost In Ontario Canada....
 

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You should not have broken anything down for him beyond:
Labor: xxx
Materials: xxx

That was your first mistake. Anything beyond that is none of his business unless you had agreed to an itemized accounting before hand (in the bidding stage). If he signed a contract agreeing to a fixed cost it does not matter if he can find all the materials you used for $1.00. It is still after the fact. I guarantee you he would not agree to pay more in labor if it took longer than expected to complete the job. Tell him he signed a contract agreeing to xxx and he needs to pay the bill or you will see him in court.
 

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People love to itemize. I have been faced with this issue. I simply tell my customer that I deal with the same reputable supplier for everthing because they warrant their products. Returns are never an issue. I have an account with this company. I often get discounts after a certain amount of purchases which I pass on to my customers (like you). They deliver to my shop. As such, I can deduct inventory and travel costs from my estimates (as I've done for you). Finally, there are too many fly by night suppliers who cannot be trusted to warrant their products. Also, many of these companies can manufacture an inferior product in a garage and slap the same (or a very similar looking) label on it. It happens all the time. More money spent on products or materials from a reputable supplier that you have a relationship with will save money for all your customers in the aggregate. Now if you buy at HD, argue that you have a relationship with a particular buyer there. In essence, a solid relationship with a supplier will reduce costs and headaches (for your customers and you) over the long run despite higher intitial costs. These intangibles increase the cost just like an extended warranty on labor. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Great advise!
Now here is the kicker. Ididnt get him to sign the contract as all arrangements were made over email. He is a repeat customer and I have never had any issues with him before. I did use home deopt, lowes and home hardware as it is fall here and not one place had everything I needed in stock. This deck is massive. I agree I should have never folded on the breakdown..Let that be a lesson to me. 2 bads on my part. I have been in bus for many years now..since highschool in fact..im now pushin 40 I have never had an unhappy customer once..If there is an issue Im the master at dealing with it..I dont care what it takes I want the home owner feeling good wheh he or she hands me payment. I dont think this is going to happen this time and It makes me sick to my stomache..:sad: I feel like telling him he will be the first home owner in history to dictate the price of a job after it is completed..This will never happen again..No more work untill the presentation is sign sealed and delivered. even for my mother///lol
 

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FairfaxGC
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Always, always, always have the paperwork signed. Having said that....

We had a particularly difficult client provide us with a breakdown of the hours we and our subs worked on her job and then tell us what we "charged" her per hour to do carpentry, plumbing etc. based on dividing the labor portion of our estimate by the hours she tracked. She then wrote us a final check based on what she thought was a fair hourly rate for the work we performed rather than the contractual amount.When we challenged her, she demanded the subs/ materials invoices and against my wishes (I was out voted 2 to 1), we sent her the invoices. She then demanded " the discounted contractor's price" invoices not the "homeowner's full price invoices". The story being, we never (esp after this ordeal) provide anything more detailed than Labor and Materials. A homeowner that wants to pick that far into an estimate usually can't be satisfied.

As we were in the process of deciding whether or not to pursue small claims court, we received a check for the balance of the contract from her husband with a note asking us not to tell her he had paid the full bill. :eek:
 

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Contractor
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if the customer agreed to the proposal via email, replying so, then isn't that a 'contract'? You may want to review all the mails for clarification to make sure you did not word it so that he was going to pay something hourly.

it gets me when you say 'estimate'. I am clear when I give someone an estimate versus a proposal. A proposal means I WILL do the job for that amount of money; my estimate is T&M, whereas M will be marked up by a percentage (20-25% if there are no carrying costs) and T involves picking up of materials.

So, did you provide an estimate or a proposal?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
actaully the funny thing is I always do a proposal for my clients..This time for whatever reason I used the word "estimate". One would think that by accepting the email and writing the deposit cheque all was good on his end..Well we will see come Monday what happens.I will post and let you all know. Im almost 100% positive I have it worked out with him..He was looking at the wrong product in the store..
 

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if the customer agreed to the proposal via email, replying so, then isn't that a 'contract'? You may want to review all the mails for clarification to make sure you did not word it so that he was going to pay something hourly.

it gets me when you say 'estimate'. I am clear when I give someone an estimate versus a proposal. A proposal means I WILL do the job for that amount of money; my estimate is T&M, whereas M will be marked up by a percentage (20-25% if there are no carrying costs) and T involves picking up of materials.

So, did you provide an estimate or a proposal?
A proposal is what you say you can or will do a job for you still need a contract!
 

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Scooter
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Just a thought,...... he shouldn't have been at the store checking your prices to begin with,....:whistling.... sounds like a "come to jesus meeting" is in order. I would have a little chat since he is a previous customer and find out "what changed" in the customer/contractor relationship.


Maybe you can find him a good therapist! :laughing:
 

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Economy is affecting everyone isnt it. This is one of those situations that would make me want to pull my hair out (if I had any)

When I have gotten into these issues I find it best to gather reciepts and number and go sit down face to face with the person. remember dont get upset or frustrated

Good Luck.
 

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Average Joe
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If the communications in your email are clear enough, then it does constitute an agreement/contract between the 2 parties.

If you have done work for him in the past under T & M, Cost plus, PM type of contract or if you advertise that you do then he does have an argument in assumptions.

You then have to prove that a fixed price was negotiated/accepted.

Do you have documentation of the work that you performed? Pictures?

Either ways, you got yourself in a pickle. You gave him grounds for an argument. To him, it looks like you charged $1250/day for 2 guys. $625/day for 1 guy. $78/hr each. He probably saw that and got heartburn. ;)

I agree, you should have never opened up the books for him in any way and stuck with the principal of fixed price means fixed price. He's not an idiot...an accountant of ALL PEOPLE! He broke down your price before he was finished reading your email...you didn't fool anyone with your skewed math.

I'm not saying don't charge $78/hr...I'm saying if you do and you feel the customer can't stomach it, then don't show them. AND CERTAINLY don't play around with the numbers trying to throw them off. You would have been far better off by standing proud behind your hourly price.

That's how you lose trust.

Problem is, if you back down now then you lose all credibility. Stand behind your price, the fact that it was fixed, you performed the work, went as far as doing the unprecedented and opened up the books for him and NOW HE HAS TO PAY YOU THE FULL AMOUNT. Done, end of deal, now or I slap a lien on your property. Turn it around on him and tell him that you forewent the signing of the contract because he is a past customer and you trusted him and that now he has further betrayed your trust. Let him feel bad, not you. Present your argument of how unethical HE IS!

You could legally charge $10,000 a jug :thumbsup:
 

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Scooter
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Wow I want to be a jugs salesman,.... o wait,.... isn't that a pimp?:blink:

hmmm well in a crappy economy there are 3 things that sell....
  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes
  • Hookers
Do you need a lic or permit or something to be a pimp?:w00t:
 
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