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I did an estimate for a flooring job for this older couple last month. I gave them a great deal, bent over backwards to get the lowest price possible on the product they wanted, a Lauzon engineered red oak. Everything seemed fine until I sent over the contract. The old guy said he was less then impressed with the contract and it seemed all one sided. I had no idea what the guy was talking about. My contract includes all the notices and legal clauses it's supposed to. I set out a payment schedule reiterating that any late payment could result in stopped work, but also that if I didn't perform to the standards of my industry that they can withhold payment etc and etc. Frankly when I read all those legal notices the language is clearly not in the contractor's favor. He then insults my contract saying it looks like it was just copied or downloaded off the internet. I'm not sure what he wants. I'm an experienced installer, not a lawyer of course I didn't write the contract word for word. I purchased it containing all the legal notices it's supposed to have from a vendor who sells programs and forms for contractors.

If that wasn't enough, get this, he says he has seen alot of contracts in his life (bet none of them were Home Improvement Contracts) and that he wants to draft HIS OWN contract for the work.

I know what my gut is telling me. Think I should just walk away, right?

I'm pissed beyond belief.
 

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No dont walk away. Just please them. I think you might of pissed them off with the contract you submitted to them. If they seem like they have the money, then make a simple contract and get half of the money down and the other half upon completion of job. Just say "look Im sorry I offended you with this contract, we can come up with a simple one together" Get him to sign it and tell him you will do a quality job. We have all delt with these sour old dudes but you might become good buddies with him later. good luck :Thumbs:
 

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Discussion Starter #3
adams said:
No dont walk away. Just please them. I think you might of pissed them off with the contract you submitted to them. If they seem like they have the money, then make a simple contract and get half of the money down and the other half upon completion of job. Just say "look Im sorry I offended you with this contract, we can come up with a simple one together" Get him to sign it and tell him you will do a quality job. We have all delt with these sour old dudes but you might become good buddies with him later. good luck :Thumbs:

thanks, I appreciate your words.

One hitch, in the state of CA I can't collect more then 10% down or $1000 at the start of a job, which ever is less. Which brings me to another hitch. The only thing I demand is that the materials be paid for up front, since I refuse to front thousands of dollars in material for something I can't take back if they decide to be difficult. I haven't been able to get a straight answer from the CA Contractor's Board on this but I believe the down payment refers to the labor. Every shop I know demands a sizeable down payment for the materials at contract signing. Frankly it's ridiculous to limit the down payment the way they do.

Anyway, that aside, I don't ask for a down payment on labor at contract signing. Just the materials cost. And the payment terms are very reasonable. I usually have installed over 50% before asking for the first payment cause I don't like the hassle of asking before they have a chance to see a good portion of their floor. By that time they are usually more then happy to pay me.

My contract is fine as far as I'm concerned. I had to include a discloser that should a homeowner fail to pay without due cause that they would be responsible for interest, attorney and other collection fees. Seems reasonable and shouldn't insult anyone who pays their bills. (I just had a homeowner who refused to pay, for no good reason except that she thought she could get away with it. I called her and she kept saying she was out of town. I asked if she liked her floor and she kept saying it was beautiful. I finally took her to a collection agency which cost me 35% of the total bill. She paid after the first letter.) I also included a nonliability statement for furniture movement. I dont get paid for it so I tell them if they want to hire movers that's up to them, but if I have to move it, I can't take liability for damages. This is to prevent homeowners from wanting me to move some expensive piece of art or antique and then hold me responsible for breaking it.

I get this distinct feeling that this guy thinks I'm just some young punk kid and frankly I don't know if he really believes in my skills. I have over 16 years experience in the hardwood flooring industry but yeah, I look young cause I started when I was 15 years old.

Im seeing red right now but frankly, should I work for someone who obviously doesn't have faith in me and what the heck does he want to hire someone he feels that way about anyway?

I swear I've had some real bad apples these last couple of months.
 

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Just say "look Im sorry I offended you with this contract, we can come up with a simple one together"
:eek: ...actually I was thinking something more like "I'm sorry I offended you with this contract. You are, of course, free to have your lawyer check it over, but it IS indeed my standard contract, I didn't write one up 'special' for you, and I haven't had any problems with it in X years. It covers me from our 'sue happy' society, and it covers you from all the hacks that call themselves flooring experts. If your lawyer OK's it, feel free to give me a call. Thank you for the opportunity to look over your project"

We have all delt with these sour old dudes but you might become good buddies with him later.
I don't want to be his buddy....I want to be his contractor...but not at the expense of leaving myself open to all kinds of trouble with a "simple (written on the spot in 10 minutes) contract."
 

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JB has got it figured out.

I personally would not change a single word in my contract for a customer. My contract isn't something I'm not sure of, I am sure of every word in it. It is worded to protect both myself and the homeowner and more importantly avoid problems by spelling out all the contingencies in the work I do.

Wait till you have a brand new lawyer right out of law school as a customer! :eek: I have had them try to cross out whole paragraphs on contracts, and these are contracts prepared for huge corporations, fortune 500 companies!

You really just need to hold the line firmly.

Reiterate that "This is a deal between you and me, I'm going to do what I said I will do, you are going to do what you said you are going to do. The contract is there only if one of us suddenly gets stupid. I've never had to use the language in my contract and I don't plan on having to use it with you on this job, but it is there to protect us both. I hope you understand becaue I would hate to lose you as a good customer over something like this."

Then just be quiet. He will sign it and shut up. If not there is nothing you can do, it wouldn't be open for negotiation. I would have to thank him and walk out.
 

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Funny how he went about deriding your contract. I suppose when you get started on the job he'll mock the fact that you just bought that table saw and didn't craft it yourself.

If you purchased it from a reputable dealer (the contract that is) do what J Proffer says or just walk away.
 

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Mike Finley said:
JB has got it figured out.

I personally would not change a single word in my contract for a customer. My contract isn't something I'm not sure of, I am sure of every word in it. It is worded to protect both myself and the homeowner and more importantly avoid problems by spelling out all the contingencies in the work I do.

Wait till you have a brand new lawyer right out of law school as a customer! :eek: I have had them try to cross out whole paragraphs on contracts, and these are contracts prepared for huge corporations, fortune 500 companies!

You really just need to hold the line firmly.

Reiterate that "This is a deal between you and me, I'm going to do what I said I will do, you are going to do what you said you are going to do. The contract is there only if one of us suddenly gets stupid. I've never had to use the language in my contract and I don't plan on having to use it with you on this job, but it is there to protect us both. I hope you understand becaue I would hate to lose you as a good customer over something like this."

Then just be quiet. He will sign it and shut up. If not there is nothing you can do, it wouldn't be open for negotiation. I would have to thank him and walk out.
well, I guess he wont be doing that job either if he doesn't change up the contract. and he said he had a lot of "sour apples" in the last couple of months. Well if they are all because of that reason or have similar reasons than something needs to happen before he starves to death.
It sounds like to me that he just put a bad first impression on this guy and I think he has the opportunity to turn this around and have a happy customer.
 

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Grainy you are the best judge of this. We have to go ahead and raise a red flag every once in a while. But not very often at all. YOu can pretty much tell right away. Sounds like he just didn't like the contract, what about the price? If he tries to talk you down now I would go ahead and let someone else do it. But if you can get it all legal in other terms and get material money you will be in good shape. But, like I said if its not much of a money issue try to work with him.
 

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Mike Finley said:
JB has got it figured out.

I personally would not change a single word in my contract for a customer. My contract isn't something I'm not sure of, I am sure of every word in it. It is worded to protect both myself and the homeowner and more importantly avoid problems by spelling out all the contingencies in the work I do.

Wait till you have a brand new lawyer right out of law school as a customer! :eek: I have had them try to cross out whole paragraphs on contracts, and these are contracts prepared for huge corporations, fortune 500 companies!

You really just need to hold the line firmly.

Reiterate that "This is a deal between you and me, I'm going to do what I said I will do, you are going to do what you said you are going to do. The contract is there only if one of us suddenly gets stupid. I've never had to use the language in my contract and I don't plan on having to use it with you on this job, but it is there to protect us both. I hope you understand becaue I would hate to lose you as a good customer over something like this."

Then just be quiet. He will sign it and shut up. If not there is nothing you can do, it wouldn't be open for negotiation. I would have to thank him and walk out.
I agree.

Run Forrest, RUN!
 

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What ever adam.
If this your one a only job and your counting on the money. Well that is a rock and hard place.
If not be the hard nose I have been taught to be. MF'ers will try to bully you and thieve from you. Take a stand and say I am sorry but I will not do work for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
adams said:
well, I guess he wont be doing that job either if he doesn't change up the contract. and he said he had a lot of "sour apples" in the last couple of months. Well if they are all because of that reason or have similar reasons than something needs to happen before he starves to death.
It sounds like to me that he just put a bad first impression on this guy and I think he has the opportunity to turn this around and have a happy customer.
Actually the bad apples refers to people who want to use a licensed contractor at unlicensed rates and those who dont want to pay up. I dont know about the rest of the country but I live in an area with LOTS of unlicensed activity. Homeowners get dazzled by the low price but then want to use a licensed contractor to get the warranty and expertise.

I've never had a problem with my contract before which is why this stunned me so. Yeah, I'm a bit green behind the ears when it comes to dealing with these types of customers.
 

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One thing I have discovered from 20 plus years of fighting for my ass, is that, if you do quality work, 6 out of 10 customers are going to pay, love you and smile. 3 out of 10 are going to alter work, squeeze your pockets, and or manipulate the payment schedule. But the last BASTICH is going to just stiff you, no explanation, no excuse, just a rod up the wazoo, and I find that most the time he is either an attorney, a doctor, a Realtor, or another contractor.

Go figure.

So let this fish go Grainy, I don't think theres any question about it, he's one of the four from 10.

Bob
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Mike Finley said:
JB has got it figured out.

I personally would not change a single word in my contract for a customer. My contract isn't something I'm not sure of, I am sure of every word in it. It is worded to protect both myself and the homeowner and more importantly avoid problems by spelling out all the contingencies in the work I do.

Wait till you have a brand new lawyer right out of law school as a customer! :eek: I have had them try to cross out whole paragraphs on contracts, and these are contracts prepared for huge corporations, fortune 500 companies!

You really just need to hold the line firmly.

Reiterate that "This is a deal between you and me, I'm going to do what I said I will do, you are going to do what you said you are going to do. The contract is there only if one of us suddenly gets stupid. I've never had to use the language in my contract and I don't plan on having to use it with you on this job, but it is there to protect us both. I hope you understand becaue I would hate to lose you as a good customer over something like this."

Then just be quiet. He will sign it and shut up. If not there is nothing you can do, it wouldn't be open for negotiation. I would have to thank him and walk out.

JProffer and Mike Finley,

thanks so much. As I said before, I'm a bit inexperienced about these things. I've worked with general contractors and shops and dealing directly with homeowners is a new thing. :confused:

I knew what I was feeling and thinking but I was so pissed at the insult I couldn't put it into words. Thanks again.
 

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well, yalll must have it a lot worse than we do. I have done a lot of work for lawyers and not a minutes trouble yet. Infact we never have trouble getting our money at all. Every now and than we have some picky customers but their always pleased in the end. Rememer this customer wants a wood floor and he' going to get it, so I hope whoever does it dont have any problem with this guy.
 

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I'm just telling you the law of averages. However my experiences maybe slightly tainted considering I shy from these professions at times.

But the 1 through 10 numbers, I believe, stand correct. The only time I've seen it different is when my ex-wife and I had a restaurant. (Dish wash factor)

Bob
 

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This guy sounds like the type who can never be satisfied ,and will use this to justify to himself,his not paying you in the end.It is a mistake to try to do any business with this weasel .
 

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It would be a grevious error to just go with a simple contract after he's pulled this stunt. You have to meet certain requirements in CA to have a legal construction contract. Don't let him bully you. As you said, you have given them a great deal. In my experience, having to give them a great deal and then get this grief is a sure sign of trouble. The penny-pinchers generally make the worst customers.Walk away.
As for the homeowner that didn't pay, this is why the preliminary lien notices are required. pain in the ass and i rarely do it too. Next step is small claims court. Worked for me in the past.
 

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Interesting thread. One thing that bothers me Grainy, is the engineered wood. ;)

Sometimes contracts can totally confuse people so much that they themselves want to run.
 
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