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Question DetailsAsked on 2/22/2017

Estimator said he was giving me an estimate but it was a contract. I signed it 3 weeks ago.Do I have any recourse?

Estimator said it was an estimate and I signed it 3 weeks ago. I did not read it because I just thought with an estimate all I really needed to know was the bottom line - How much is the quote!
It was actually a contract but I trusted him. Thought it was odd, but I went along with it and signed and initialed where he told me to. Do I have any recourse? Now they threaten to put a Lien on my house. I am 74, disabled and have a heart condition. I cannot take the stress of this!

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2 Answers

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You realize of course you should not sign things you have not read in detail, and especially not if you think something is odd about the situation. And an estimate should not be signed unless the signature line specifically says something like "Acknowledgement or Receipt of Quote Only" or something like that, because commonly the back of the quote page is a contract form that says if you signed the front it becomes a contract.


You have three common options:


1) of course, hiring an attorney


2) contact your local city/county district attorney's office and find out if they have, or if your state has, a consumer fraud division (sometimes local, sometimes through state attorney general's office) - and many states and some more populous cities/counties have an elder/disabled fraud specialty prosecutor


3) file a criminal fraud complaint against them with the police, stating that they told you it was a quote or bid or estimate but was actually a contract.


The bottom line - going to be stressful for you any way it goes, but because you did not think you were signing a contract there is not a valid contract because it lacked at leaat one of the fundamental elements of a contract - there was no "meeting of the minds" in that you did not intend to sign a contract.


Also - if they have not done any work on the job, there is no basis for them to file a lien, so that threat in itself may be fraud. And I would definitely NOT let them on your property to start work, because that would be ratification of the contract.


Clearly, if you can get the local or state prosecutor's or consumer fraud office to push your case that would be easiest on you - but might or might not achieve anything, might be slow, and might not protect all your rights.


Personally - and especially given your condition, I would contact an attorney specializing in consumer fraud and residential contract disputes to be sure your rights are protected. First thing he/she will probably do (maybe after discussion with consumer or elder fraud unit) is to send a certified mail letter to the contractor stating that when you signed you believed you were only acknowledging receipt of a bid, not signing a contract, and that there is therefore no valid contract, and that unless then send you a voided contract in writing, at no cost to you, and remove the threat of a lien, they will be looking at legal action. There would be legal phrasing "repudiating" the contract in the letter - stating that there was not contract because they fraudently led you to believe it was jsut a quote and there was no intent on your part to sign a contract. This letter repudiating the contract needs to be done ASAP, so having an attorney do it for you is probably necessary.


It is also possible that your homeowner's/renter's insurance policy provides at least some coverage against fraud and may cover (after deductible) legal costs - but whether or not they will actually take your case in advance of a lien being filed I would doubt, and if they provide the attorneys they also have the power to decide how to settle the case. Better in my opinion to have an attorney on your side directly.


If you have financial issues too, then possibly the local Legal Aid office will help you - or you may have to hope the consumer/elder fraud agency will make the situation go away. Or the local Bar Association might be able to help finding an attorney to handle this case at a reduced rate or Pro BOno (free to you except for court filing fees and other out-of-pocket costs by the attorney).


This was probably a scam artist, so getting the fraud unit or an attorney into the picture will probably make them run for cover. It is also possible the elder/disabled or police fraud unit will know of these people and assist in pursuing a criminal case against them, which would help with getting a judge to possibly rule the contract is summarily void.


At the end of this, you should (hopefully) end up with either a court order voiding the "contract", or a signed and dated (by both parties) cancellation of the contract stating no funds are due (and with full refund if you did pay anything). And a lien waiver or release if a lien was actually filed.


If you already paid some $ that complicates thing considerably because that would mean you knew it was a committment / contract - so while a consumer fraud/elder fraud unit might carry the ball for you, I would say you would really need an attorney on your side to have any really good chance of winning.


Obviously, if you have a yuounger family member who can help you through this situation that could help a LOT.


Good Luck

Answered 1 year ago by LCD

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Hi,

This is James in Member Care. Thanks for your interest in Angie's List! I'm sorry to hear about your experience with this.

Angie's List offers our Gold members a program to help resolve complaints when they've had a negative service experience. You can find out more about our Complaint Resolution Program here: http://support.angieslist.com/app/ans... Or, give us a quick call. One of our specialists would be happy to take your feedback and explain how Angie's List can leverage the "strength of numbers" to help you. Our call center is available 8:00 am-9:00 pm weekdays and 8:00-5:00 pm ET on Saturdays.


Thanks for your question and we look forward to assisting you!

Answered 1 year ago by Member Services




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