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Old 07-24-2007, 10:35 PM   #1
puppyluv
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Help; should I file a BBB complaint?
I'll try to be brief, I really need some advice.
I signed a contract with a fence company in late April. They didn't even have the lowest bid, but the guy seemed so sure my fence would be done in 4 weeks, I signed.
And yes I checked his business out with the Better Business Bureau first, I checked ALL the companies who gave me an estimate.
Ok. The fence took 9 weeks from the time I signed. They told me "once OUR CREW is on your property, it takes about 4 days". It took more like A MONTH because the CREW consisted of ONE guy who said his helper never showed up to work. But he eventually got it done.
There is still an issue because they didn't pour enough concrete into 2 or 3 of the posts. So I do NOT consider it "finished" and I won't pay until it is.
It is a VERY NICE fence, very expensive, part chain link, part wooden privacy.
Here's the big problem.
When I got the bill, the price on the wooden fence matched my signed contract, but the price on the chain link was almost $400 more. I called on 7/13 and left a message saying I think there was a mistake. He calls back 7/16 and leaves a message, "oh that is the materials tax THAT WE TALKED ABOUT, call me if you have questions, I'll look forward to your payment next week".
The next day I call back and tell him "we never talked about ANYTHING, and if we had, I'd want it in writing, so I am not paying this additional charge...and also, can you please put some more cement in these holes so the wood doesn't rot, and then I'll pay you what I owe".
I called again on the 20th, again I just get a machine. Still haven't heard anything. And this isn't just a local handyman, this is one of the largest fence companies around! With tons of advertising, and obviously, not enough workers to do their jobs.
I am just getting mad, the bill states they charge 2% a month for unpaid balances, and if they dare try that...
I guess I'm unsure how many times I call them, or how long to wait, before I go ahead and file a complaint with the BBB.
Because this "materials tax" wasn't listed on my bill as such, it was instead added to the chain link price.
I read the fine print, I even asked him when I signed "no hidden charges, this is it, right?" And he said yes.
How long would you wait? Should I call AGAIN or just wait and then file a complaint with the BBB?
This is a $7000 fence, people. I have a BIG yard. And I am getting VERY mad!
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Old 07-24-2007, 10:42 PM   #2
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I would be leaving a message on the guy's machine about my impending meeting with my lawyer. I'd be asking other companies about this mysterious "materials tax". And I would be reporting him to the BBB, asap.

Go get him!
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Old 07-24-2007, 10:43 PM   #3
Susan P.
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Don't call but send mail or a fax and give them 3 working days to respond in writing to the issue. Say if they don't you will feel obliged to go to BBB. BBB will want to see what attempt you've made in writing to resolve it although noting down the calls etc you've made will be important.

If you have no mailing address for them at all - which would be unusual - ring but keep a tape record if possible of what you say. Don't record THEM because it's illegal as a rule to record without permission.

I would not pay the additional money either and it sounds like they were short on materials and didn't want to pay properly. I would be saying IF you don't return to complete the work to my satisfaction and to the level we agreed upon, I will contract someone else to do this work and remove that payment from your account. In other words if you have to pay someone else $100 you remove $100 from the first person's account. To be honest, that concrete/cement probably needs doing fairly soon as one lot will harden and unless the next people roughen the surface so the second pour will adhere, you may wind up with two sections. Darn nuisance.

But do it in writing if possible and put a limit on it. 3 days is reasonable I think..3 working days. Sometimes I will give longer depending on the issue and depending whether we've spoken about the problem before. You have so you should reduce the time frame I believe.

Sorry to hear of your woes.
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Old 07-24-2007, 10:44 PM   #4
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did he put in writing the approxamate time it would take to *finish* your fence?
IMHO, if he is well past the date given, and has not answered you last call by friday, i would write a letter to the BBB and send it to them monday, as well as a copy to him. explain that he has breached contract (also you might want to contact your credit agencies to alert them to him possibly giving you false 'late payment' marks on your credit score. ), that you have atempted multiple (make sure to document) times to correct the situation, and still have not met his end of the contract.
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Old 07-25-2007, 10:35 AM   #5
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definitely start getting all your attempts at contact in writing. write up a nice clear letter of the facts as you understand them: your original estimate, what it covered, deadlines... then what actually happened and this error-full bill, what days you called them about the bill, and their mysterious response. Give them a short period for response after which state you will be contacting your attorney or filing in small claims court for breach of contract for the unfinished work and incorrect bill.

I would file a complaint with the BBB if they do not respond within your time period.

sorry this has happened to you.... finding reputable companies with good workers is very hard. it sounds like you did the right things.
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Old 07-25-2007, 10:46 AM   #6
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I have had similar experiences with businesses before. I may be wrong, but I'm not sure the BBB actually takes action. In our state, the Attorney General's office has a unit which handles these types of matters. A consumer can file a claim with them, and they basically try to work it out. Sometimes (not in my case), they find criminal activity and prosecute. That's the way I would go if you are unable to get it taken care of yourself. Just be sure to have everything documented. Our AG has such a reputation, I have only mentioned filing a claim in the past and the problem was immediately resolved.

Good luck with this. I hate it when things like this happen!!
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Old 07-25-2007, 11:30 AM   #7
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Absolutely file a complaint with the Atty General's office and inform the BBB.

Another thing you can do is inform any newspapers, local TV stations, etc. that run the ads for this outfit.

A big company here in Boston was messing up and one of the local news stations that ran its ads investigated and did a news report. Turns out the company had good reason for the problems and having the story aired was beneficial to all.

I had a fence installed 3 years ago when I got my dog. I know how expensive they are. Ouch! Mine only took 3 days! A 6 foot privacy/stockade around 1/2 of my property. Good Luck!
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Old 07-25-2007, 10:12 PM   #8
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I also concur about the lawyer. I'm not a sue-happy person (I've never even used a lawyer before), but it could be that one letter from an attorney would be enough to make everything work out.

Good luck.
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Old 07-25-2007, 10:34 PM   #9
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In Massachusetts the letter the attorney would send is a 93A demand letter for unfair or deceptive practices I think. Your state might have something like it. It generally lets the company know you are serious and will take this into litigation if you have to.

This is not intended to be legal advice in any way, just an FYI in general. You should consult a lawyer (the first consultation is sometimes free) to determine whether or not you have a case.
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Old 07-26-2007, 12:24 AM   #10
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Don't waste your time with the "BBB", they can't do anything. I advise my friends to check out the ripoffreport.com , there you can learn the dirty little secrets about the "BBB". Do I sound a wee bit bitter, you'd better believe it! The BBB has done nothing to help me with past complaints, and also gave me bad information about a company I was inquiring about once.
If you want to get something done got to your AG's office, or spend the $'s and hire a good lawyer. Which ever way you decide to go, don't let this company get away with this bs.
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