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Question DetailsAsked on 3/4/2018

It is 12 days since we signed a contract for two new windows and front door changed to one door and two sidelights.

We thought we picked a good contractor; however, we still had two more to interview. The contract we signed on 2/22 we felt "pressured" to sign, and we thought ok. The contractor for this other company came to do estimate and said why our contractor was doing unethical things and charge us more. They did not measure yet, but put in contract for a wrong door, just replacing our front door and no side lights and no hardware. Also, we signed "bill us" for them pulling the county permits. The new window company said the contractor we signed did not put down what we said so when the measurement guy comes he will say this is the wrong door so the one you want will be more money. Also, pulling permits in Polk County only costs around $12 for windows and signing "bill me" leaves it open for them to bill us up to $400 for pulling permits. They had us get GreenSky financing and take out half on the 25th; they can't fill order without measuring and hardware not mentioned. We do not want.

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Under federal law, you could have cancelled with 3 days without penalty. Sounds like you were indeed pressured to sign if you still had two more to interview, because once you signed a contract with the first one there was purpose in getting other estimates.

Though you might have a potential out if they told you they were just giving you an estimate but it was actually a contract you signed (which is most likely) - that would be fraud.

You have a real potential problem here - obviously the safe thing is to get an attorney to write them a cancellation letter so all the legalese i's are dotted and t's crossed - probably $250-500 range just for that sort of initial "threat to sue" contact, not including any subsequent legal representation.

I can tell you what I would do - but that is as a pretty much Alpha person with a lot of large job contracting and military and management experience so I would feel perfectly comfortable dealing with a scammer like this sounds like - a lot of people would not feel as comfortable taking on a typical door-to-door type contractor.

First, check what it says about cancellation fee - I bet it says something about a substantial charge. Personally, the first thing I would check is if all the paperwork they gave you meets federal and state disclosure requirements - mandatory legal phrasing and font size and such disclosure about your 3 day cancellation period, legal disclosure under federal lending laws about the financing, etc - that is usually the easiest way to trip them up if they failed with that, because that pretty much always gives you the option to cancel.

I would, personally (though you might be better off using an attorney), send them a certified, return receipt signature guaranteed letter stating I felt they illegally pressured me into signing (or falsely said it was just an estimate form, not a contract) so there was no intent on your part to sign a contract, and they put the wrong scope of work on the contract and saying you want a no-fault, no-cost cancellation of the contract and the financing. (That latter part may be more difficult because it is not through them). If they refuse, then I would take it to the local/state consumer fraud division and file a criminal fraud complaint against them - that is pretty much sure to get them to back down.

You would have a pretty strong case for the contract being voidable because the scope of work (number to be done, etc) did not match what you thought he was putting down - though they can argue you signed the document as it reads, but you could potentially come back and say his notes on scope were technical and not clear to you (assuming they were the typical cryptic jotted abbreviations, not fully written out as to what was being replaced).

Also, if they are not legally licensed (if your state requires contractor licensing for door and window replacement - not all do) that also could give you excellent grounds for a fraud complaint - in many states if not properly licensed and bonded and insured a vendor cannot legally collect a dime regalrdless of whether the work is actually done or not.

Also, a check on whether they are properly licensed as a business with required bonding and insurance and such could also strengthen your hand if they are not.

There are also state limits in some states on how much of a deposit a contractor can get up-front - they may have violated that.

I would NOT let them measure - tell him the scope is not what you agreed to and the contract needs to be cancelled and redone. Once you have signed cancelled contract in hand (and read any fine print cancallation procedure in contract) would be your choice whether you let then try again with proper scope and new contract price or not. But with the financing tied in and such, I really would not handle this on your own - just too much chance of them ending up not refunding the money, having early cancellation fees withheld from the loan (they may have draw authority on the loan, for instance), etc. Real potential for a ball of worms situation here.

You could also contact the consumer fraud unit at your police or district attorney's office (usually latter) and ask if they have this company in their sights already - they may be ready to jump on this as an additional incident to pursue.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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