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Question DetailsAsked on 2/18/2018

paying for a job i didnt want

I hired an HVAC company to do a job. I told them what it was I wanted but they proceeded to put what I didn't want. I called the boss and told him that I didn't want what they installed and canceled the job. I said to take all the material they installed, because I wasn't gonna pay for what I didn't ask. I did not sign any contracts, a couple days go by and I receive a bill for somethings they left installed. What should I do if I told them to pick up everything?

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1 Answer


Sounds like nothing in writing - not even a work order or materials list ?

First, check online (Google or commonly at state contractor licensing board website) whether home improvement contracts have to be in writing in your city or state (like in California, for instance, if over $500 has to be in writing or he can legally receive NOTHING). If so, or if there are certain disclosures required as part of the documents and he did not supply them, then you may owe absolutely nothing.

Otherwise, you are in a "he-said, they said" situation where each party is likeloy to disagree as to what you wanted and agreed to, but if you reject the work as not being what was agreed to, you have a right to demand they either remove what was not wanted, or if they say it is not worth their effort to remove it, can leave it only if you agree - but at no cost to you.

However - from their standpoint - if they feel (or claim) they installed what you agreed to, they can then file a lien against your house and bill you for the value of the equipment and the labor to install and uninstall it, so you may have a legal fight on your hand, which would normally require an attorney to handle on your behalf. A lien or UCC Credit Claim being filed against you for not paying can wreck havoc with your credit rating and potentially result in other loans (car, mortgage, student, credit card, etc) being called as immediately due in full under "Mutual Default" provisions, so if a lien is filed or you receive a legally required (in some states) pre-lien notification of intent to file one, you need legal representation IMMEDIATELY.

Basically, laws vary by state but before YOU can dispose of anything they left onsite or installed you have to give them writtten notice to remove it at their expense or it will be forfeit, and you have to give them the legal amount of time (commonly 2 weeks or a month) and ample physical opportunity to arrange a time during normal business hours (or otherwise as you may both agree) to come get it and remove it. AFTER they have gone through past time without removing it, assuming you gave the required notice(s) in legal form, then you can keep or dispose of it as you wish.

If you have a prepayment or deposit tied up in this, you have three options:

1) file a claim with their bonding company for a refund. Getting the bonding company to pay for proper job completion as you feel you agreed to is probably out because there is no contract or scope of work to definitely tie down what the contract scope and price was, but you might get your deposit back from them.

2) file a criminal fraud complaint with the police or district attorney's office (who takes initial action varies by locale) - which might break free the deposit from the company to make the fraud claim go away. Of course, this only if you really think this was a bait and switch fraud case, not a minsunderstanding. But if suspicious, contract the fraud division and the state licensing board about whether there have been previous similar complaints about this contractor - also look at Reviews on Angies List to see if others have complained about this sort of thing.

3) sue - in normal civil court (normally requiring an attorney), or if smaller amount ($ limit eligible varies by state) in Small Claims Court - the Judge Judy type court but real, not pretent court.

4) of course, if they are required by law to be licensed and to have signed contract/ disclosures, bonding, insurance, etc and they did not have all that is required by law, then filing a complaint with the state licensing board might put themm out of business. Does not help you in most cases (a few states like Florida and California have consumer compensation funds for this purpose), but might at least help protect other customers from what is apparently (not hearing the other side here) a bad actor.

Also, everything from here on (and your discussions with the boss) should be documented in writing, deal with them in writing (letter best, eMail second best) and status of work and materials photographed for the record.

And of course, after all is said and done, an appropriate but honest Review on Angies List, Yelp, etc might well be in order.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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