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Question DetailsAsked on 1/5/2017

I have a contract with a sound/AV company to provide and install equipment. Who owns the equipment?

This "one-man shop" itemized all the equipment and I paid 1/2 on the contract which included 2 days of work plus the equipment which is broken out by item and cost. He has worked maybe 3 days (which is a 1/2 day more than anticipated) and everything is poor quality. The only equipment that has been installed or brought to the house is the brackets and wiring but none of the speakers, amp etc.He tells me that he won't refund any money or give me the equipment. But he's happy to cancel the contract. I stupidly didn't have my contractor manage him and he's making demands regarding the renovation schedule even though it's only AV and not part of the whole house project. Do I own say, 40% of the equipment since I paid 50% of the contract and maybe 20% of it was labor? The whole house project has had severe delays so the equipment was purchased at the end of April 2016 and he says he can't return any of it which may be the case, but then don't I own some of it?

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1 Answer


He would be entitled to the fair value of his labor (including prep and purchasing time) and installed materials (including normal overheads and markups) though that sounds like little in this case - then the remainder of the $1400 he would have to either refund or offer for your acceptance a corresponding amount of the uninstalled materials, if they were already bought. But bottom line - you are entitled to your money's worth in work done in the house and in either the goods purchased for the job or refund, in the total amount you have paid for.

Your first step should probably be to send a certified mail, return receipt, signature required letter stating that because of his poor and/or substandard performance and because he is willing to cancel the contract, you want your half payment back within 5 business days - and let HIM come back and document and justify how much he should be owed. You would have the option, since he evidently (or supposedly) has the equipment, to offer to negotiate a settlement amount for him to provide the equipment (which you would have to inspect for completeness and correctness and that it is new and actually paid for) but not install it.

I would suggest you require he provide you with proofs of purchase or better yet, lien releases from his supplier, so you are not caught with a situation with a vendors lien because he had not paid THEM for the equipment. And get a lien release from him to concurrent with final settlement.

If he fails to respond or will not give the money back, then your recourse is to call his Bond (he was bonded, right ?) to recover your moneyor have the job completed at original bid amount by another contractor. If not bonded, his Liability Insurance company might pay off, though commonly not without a court order - likely from Small Claims Court for the $ amount you are talking about.

If you believe he skipped out with the money intentionally or never bought the equipment and never intended to finish the job, you could contact the local police department or state/local consumer fraud division (commonly in district attorney's or state attorney general's office) to see if they have a history of complaints about him, and to file a criminal fraud complaint against him. If he is still around and has your money still, that might shake it loose.

If you do file a fraud claim, note you may have coverage under your credit card (file a complaint with them) if paid that way and you file a claim with the credit card company in the legal timeframe, or you may be able to recover the amount by which the 1/2 payment exceeds your homeowner's insurance deductible if he was unbonded and uninsured and you are claiming fraud - though if only a few hundred $ the increased premium for 3-5 years for filing a claim would probably make that a bad idea.

Good Luck

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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