Unfortunately, all contractors are not the same. If they were then they would be like me and there wouldn’t be a problem. They would show up on time, do what they say they are going to do and finish the job.
But I get at least one call a day from a local resident whose house is in shambles and the contractor hasn’t been seen or heard from in weeks. Left them high and dry.
I am not going to try to deny it, I am a sucker for these stories.
I recently pulled the pieces together for a young lady that was a first time homeowner trying her best to improve her home by hiring what seemed to be a legitimate contractor. She paid a deposit, bought all of the materials and did her part. But the contractor showed up for one day and ripped a bunch of crap out leaving the bathroom in shambles. When he didn’t show back up to complete the very basic project, she called and was given excuse after excuse for why he couldn’t be there. But he promised he would be there the next day. The next day was the same, another excuse.
He was giving her just enough attention that she didn’t call the police on him and file a report. Because after all, it is theft.
Everyday I hear similar stories. It is incredibly disheartening and disturbing. But also fascinating. How can so much of this be going on in such a small tight knit city? Honestly, it is fascinating. Like watching a train wreck or a dumpster fire.
From what I have seen, I would say you have a 50/50 chance that you will get stiffed by your contractor.
So as I am pecking away at my keyboard it occurred to me that with odds like that, chances are it has happened to you. Maybe in the distant past or perhaps it is happening to you right now and you are searching for answers on how to handle the situation.
So what can you do?
Should I report a bad contractor to the Better Business Bureau?
Everyone thinks the BBB is the best way to scold a bad contractor. But it is not. If they are a member of the BBB that means that they have paid a fee to the BBB and have become a BBB customer. They are the only source of revenue for the BBB. The BBB serves the contractor, not the customer. It’s a pretty basic and easy to understand arrangement. If the BBB does not please the contractor, the contractor will not pay for another year of membership. So pissing the contractor off is a bad business model for the BBB.
And the BBB is struggling to stay afloat and relevant in this age of instant feedback and mass internet competition. As Greenpal.com noted “our research shows that that the BBB has been under scrutiny in recent years for unscrupulous pay to its executives, and also it’s rating system has been called into question for legitimacy, fairness, and reliability. Some of even asserted that local businesses effectively can pay to have an A+ rating on the BBB while businesses that don’t pay don’t get a fair shake.”
So now that we got that out of the way, sure, make a complaint with the BBB. But do not expect to get far and certainly do not expect them to resolve the situation for you.
What to do when a contractor stiffs you
First off, put your foot down now.
Let’s face it, the relationship between you and your contractor has went sour at this point. There is no more time for Mr Nice Guy.
No Lame Excuses
Do not accept excuses. When you call and they tell you “Oh I can’t make it today because my Aunt’s sister’s cousin’s Labrador needs surgery …” tell them that is not your problem and it is not acceptable. Tell them they had better make progress or that you will have to find another contractor that will come in and bill on an emergency rate to repair or complete their work and that they will be sued for it.
Call the Sheriff
Trust me, the Sheriff wants to know. Perhaps this isn’t the first time this contractor has done this. At some point, this becomes fraudulent and criminal. It needs to be documented.
Set a deadline
You should have a time-frame in your contract. An agreed upon time that the project will take. If you don’t, then you are a bit at a disadvantage.
But you can still set that deadline. Pick a reasonable time to call it quits.
Tell your contractor that if the project has not been completed by a certain date, then they will not be allowed back on the project and you will pursue any legal remedy at your disposal to recoup your losses.
Write Reviews Everywhere
Yelp, Google , Nextdoor, Bing, Yahoo…..Where ever you can.
These reviews hurt. Unlike the BBB, there isn’t a thing that can be done to remove them.
You are serving a great cause here by letting your local community know they have a schiester among them.
And, it will be very hard for that contractor to get more work if their reviews show that they have a habit of stiffing customers.
Have you been stiffed by a local contractor? If so, I want to hear from you.
Send me an email to Chris@fortcollinshomeimprovement.com .