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Question DetailsAsked on 3/18/2014

KVD
Can a contractor cancel a contract I signed?

I signed a contract for basement remodeling. The salesman has been here 2-3 times for about 3 hours each time discussing plans and options. He brought me the contract a couple weeks ago to sign at a specified amount.

Now the manager says the salesman was new and he is not sure they can complete the work agreed on for the contract amount. He is coming here to review the work needed himself in a couple days. He said he is sure they can do "something," but I am concerned that he may want more money, or reduce what was promised. He expressed concern about all the things they have to move twice to paint the entire floor.

I am on a fixed income and only have a certain amount of money, through a disaster loan, to do the job. Can the company refuse to honor the contract?

I really like the salesman personally, he has spent a lot of time with me discussing ideas, and worked hard to bring the contract within my budget. I don't want to unnecessarily compound a bad situation for him.

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12 Answers

Voted Best Answer
1
Vote

The salesman's bad situation already exists and the boss knows about it - and that is not your problem, and nothing you can do to help or hurt it at this point - other than expressing appreciaiton for the time the rep spent with you trying to get what you needed - which unless this is a major disaster rehab like from Sandy or something, was WAYYY too much time for him to spend estimating one job.


Technically, depending on the state, the contractor may be able to back out IF no work has been done, AND you have not paid any upfront deposit. Even if he is legally tied to the contract, your problem is that if he backs out and offers to refund any deposit you would have to sue to get any compensation, and you would have a hard time proving what your damages were, because work has not started so you are not being stuck in the middle of the job. Plus the cost and hassle of suing.


I would express your unhappiness if he wants to back out - his employee's failure to estimate properly is the owner's problem as he did not train him well enough or provide enough supervision for a new employee, but that is not your problem to solve. However, if he wants to back out, that leaves you having to go through the whole process again with a new contractor, and with subsequent project schedule delay.


You could use the Angie's List disputes resolution process - but you have to decide if you want this contractor on board at all if he knows he is going to lose money on the job, because what are the chances he will start skimping to make up the difference ?


At this point see what he says, explain you signed the contract and thought this was a done deal, and are very unhappy with the situation. Where you go from there depends on whether he is holding any of your money or not yet, and if you want to try to keep him on board despite this bad start. If the insurance company or FEMA was going to cover the bill they might support you too, if your loan amount was tied to his bid.


Good Luck

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

2
Votes

Keeping it short and sweet, as long as you are not losing any deposit money let them off the hook. The last thing you want is a contractor working in your home that does not have a warm and fuzzy feeling about doing the job. They may take all sorts of shortcuts to coe within the budget. I can see why you might feel sorry for the sales person as that is part of his job, to sell him self.

Get some other bids on the job. It sounds like a bait and switch to me!


Don

Answered 4 years ago by ContractorDon

1
Vote

If the contractor didn't sign th contract, I'd say he can easil cancel, often the consumer signs and the salesman returns to the office for the contractor to sign.



If the contractor signed, then I read the post above. I'd choose to find another contractor.

Source: www.bayareacool.com

Answered 4 years ago by BayAreaAC

0
Votes

Good catch Don - I did not even think this might be the first stage of a bait and switch or a change order artist operation - I guess the number of hours the salesman spent selling the job gave me a feelign they really wanted it - but maybe, as you say, for the wrong reason.


One other consideration - you did not say if you wet to them for the bid - good - or they came to you offering to solve your disaster issue - not so good unless they were referred by the insurance company.


Like - who was it - Don I think - said - you did not say anything about other bids. Do you have another viable bid to fall back on ? If not, time to go out for 3 competing bids again, and rechoose from there, I guess.


Our sympathies on your situation - but don't feel bad, this sort of almost-there then hit a snag sort of thing happens a lot. Be sure to get the signed original contract back - or see it destroyed with your own eyes, so there is no chance they can change the price and try to enforce it, or use it to put a lien on your house.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

2
Votes

It sounds like to me that it maybe a good thing that they do not want to do the work. Get out while you are ahead. I would look for other contractors to do the work because this company seems like they are just out to get more money from you. You should always get at least 1 or 2 other bids from other companies. It never hurts to do little research on the internet, read reviews from other customers, ask your neighbors, coworkers, friends, family if they know anyone who works in construction and can give you a good referral. Good Luck!

Answered 4 years ago by Crystal

1
Vote

This is quite a common ruse by disreputable contractors. Everybody always likes the saleman, that is his job, to get you to like him/her enough to get your signature.

At any rate contact your local consumer advocacy association, or government department, seniour citizen omnibudsman etc. You need someone with you just in case this contractor is pushy.

Answered 4 years ago by Guest_9604509

0
Votes

A further note - many states have laws that home improvement contracts, or in some cases any contract signed at your home, can be rescinded (voided) by you within so many days of your signing it - typically 3 business days but probably varies by state. If you just signed this and, after reading these comments, desire to get out, research rescinding contracts in your state and do the necessary form of notification to the contractor within that period, if you wish.


Another portion of law states that if both parties have not signed a contract, either party may rescind their signature at any time up till signing by the other party. IF you wish to do this, I would get with an attorney ASAP, have a letter of recission doneup, and hand-delivered by a process server to the company - that way there is proof of delivery, and less easy for contractor to receive say a written letter and quickly sign the contract, claiming he got your letter later.


Of course,if he comes back and says he cannot do the job for that amount and he wants more money, you can just say no and demand he provide a document voiding the contract, with zero payment by either party. Of course, if he has a deposit from you he is unlikely to want to do that and could lead to a need for legal recourse.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

1
Vote

As you can see by the other comments this can go one of many ways. Personally, I think it should always be a red flag when a salesman sells and estimates a job but is not actually overseeing or ocmpleting the actual work in some way. Typically, salesmen have little to no construction experience and that is why they only sell the jobs. It is ok to have someone meet with you initially and set up a meeting with an estimator (preferably the contractor himself or at least one of the supervisors in the company) as long as you request the meeting. Never hire door-to-door companies. I can't stress that enough. I would consider this your "Get out of jail free" card and cancel the entire deal, no matter what the contractor says at this point. Get your deposit back and both of you should sign a statement saying it is null and void.


It isn't very professional of this business to try to change the terms of the contract on you but at least the contractor is being honest enough to say there has been a mistake before work starts. Most scam artists will start the work before changing the terms so you have a home that is torn apart and you have little choice but to agree so the job gets done. However, the whole salesperson thing kinda does the same thing from the start. There are plenty of door-to-door companies that have salesmen offer the moon and stars to get you on board and then someone else comes along and brings you back down to earth and reality. Car salesmen often do the same thing, selling extras that management won't approve but by then you are emotionally attached to the deal and agree to follow through without those extras. They count on it. Never get so emotionally wrapped up in a business deal that you lose sight of what you want and need out of it. This could actually be an instance of a rare mistake or this could be the company's standard operation. Better safe than sorry, walk away.

Answered 4 years ago by Todd's Home Services

0
Votes

I really appreciate the answers and advice - it is all very helpful.


I first spoke with this company a few years ago when I requested bids to replace 3 windows on another screened contractor site. The owner called me and told me that no company was likely to come out for less than 5 windows. He then discussed with me several other options I had, cautioned me about handymen who advertise on Craig's list, etc. I was impressed - he didn't have to call me and help me.


I next purchased a Deal from Angie's list for that company to perform an inspection. They sent a salesman who performed the service, then told me I should have expensive work done. I didn't agree that I needed it at this time, but said that I needed basement reconstruction from flood damage. That was when we went to the basement to discuss the project. I didn't have a clear idea of what I wanted at that time, but he suggested options and helped me think them through. Then we landed where we are now, with a contract signed by the salesman and me and a 1/3 deposit given. The contract had not been signed by a supervisor.


I did receive one bid previously, but I wanted to reduce the cost and the contractor has not called to schedule a time to return and revise the project. I strongly sensed that he did not really want to do it, so I have not pursued it with him.


I have the meeting with the salesman and the operations manager this afternoon. I feel well-equipped, thanks to all of you who responded, to handle the interaction. I will let you know how it went.

Answered 4 years ago by KVD

0
Votes

If it was signed by the salesman (employee of the company) and you, it is a valid contract, even if the supervisor does not like it - their problme if employees are signing contracts they are not authorized to.


As stated in other comments, if it is cancelled, bet it in writing SIGNED by both parties, copies to both - so there is not a valid signed contract floating out there indefinitely.


Good luck

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

0
Votes

The meeting with the manager went very well. He looked around, asked a few questions, then said that the contract could go ahead as is.

Apparently, the contract is not finalized until everyone up the chain of command has signed it.

Answered 4 years ago by KVD

1
Vote

I'm glad to hear you got it worked out. Be very careful, though, in working with a company that operates the way you have described. Attempting to sell you something you didn't need before should have been a warning. The bigger red flag may be the fact that "everyone up the chain of command" had to sign off on it. If others are the decision makers for the business why hadn't you met them before? If, or more likely when, an issue arises over the course of the job how many people are you going to have to speak with to get it resolved? Just be very careful and dot your i's and cross your t's, so to speak. It sounds like this company has a shady side to me.

Answered 4 years ago by Todd's Home Services

0
Votes

I am very happy for you that the meeting went well.


However, if the salesman signed the contract, unless his name was only in a section saying "estimate provided by" or something like that, not on the signature line at the bottom, this contractor is sticking his net into a liability noose, because once ANY employee of his company sings the contract it is a legal contract, even if that employee did not have the authority to sign it from the company.


Once the job is done and paid for, if you are on good terms with him at that time, you might clue him into that fact and tell him he almost had himself a legal issue and a lost client because of his uncertainty about the job, which could hurt him legally and reputation wise in the future.

Good Luck with your project.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD




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