“I Felt Cheated”: I canceled and confirmed the job after the contractor quoted me $2,000 and then charged me $3,000 for a new door. Should I pay him his $30 check return fee?

I have a moral dilemma. i hope you can help me. This company was introduced to me by a close friend. He built a set of bookshelves in her living room, and she said he was very professional, left no dust, and did a very thorough job.

At the recommendation of a friend, I requested a quote for several projects at home. I wanted to install wooden interior doors where there was only a door frame, build some bookshelves, and install curtain rails on the apartment doors. New interior doors were my top priority.

He quoted $5,500 for the bookshelves, $2,000 for the doors (at least I heard him), and $1,200 for the curtain rails and the blinds that also act as sound deadeners. It was early in the morning and everything sounded like big bucks.

He picked up his phone and within seconds a masked man arrived with a tape measure and took measurements. The contractor has been pushing me hard. So I said, “Let’s start with the door.” I didn’t want to commit myself to a big job.

“As I was walking to the door, he said it would take four weeks before the job was ready.”

The contractor said, “It’s okay! Door fee is 3,000 yen. We can make you and it will look great. I was confused and under pressure. I first heard $2,000.” I thought I misunderstood him when he said, “I need a check today.” So I wrote him a check for $3,000.

As I was walking to the door, he said it would be about 4 weeks before I was ready to work. When he woke up, he had a $3,000 bill in his inbox for the cost of installing the door. But I felt a hood wink.

I called other contractors and looked up quotes online. Average costs range from $400 to $1,000, not far from $3,000.

I called my bank and asked them to cancel the check. They were reluctant at first. They obliged after I explained what had happened. After waiting 24 hours, I finally received an email confirming that my check had been cancelled. I then emailed the contractor, apologizing and telling him it was too expensive.

I had to pay $30 to stop the check. My question is: If he tells me he has to pay a returned check fee, am I obligated to pay that fee for him? Said what do you think?

fool and his money

Dear AF and HM

That’s a small enough amount to pay, and a small enough amount not to pay.

But first, this is a lesson in trusting your intuition, and don’t say yes in the moment because it feels like you’re stuck in an uncomfortable situation. You can say “I have” or “Leave it to me”.

Apparently he didn’t want the job. It was too small for him. $1,200 for a rail when he realized he wouldn’t use the bookshelf and curtain rail? Of course, he could and should have said, “That’s too small a job.”

Second, whether you’re a gardener, contractor, or plumber, never pay the job in full before it’s done. Some states have regulations on how much a contractor can prepay. He sent you the bill, so it seemed like he was going to follow through. But he could have done a runner.

Third, he indulges in rigorous practice. When the overall job was running low, he raised the price of his job and quoted you $1,000 more than his. And he had your check half way out the door before he said it would take four weeks to do the job.

Some US states have caps on the amount a contractor can receive as a down payment from a customer.

Fourth, he deposited the check faster than the Roadrunner could go to the bank. He clearly knows his business and knows how to push the right button to hand over money to potential clients.

Finally, he received a glowing recommendation from your friend. As such, he benefited from the “halo effect”. It’s no different than asking her out on a date! You may also have wanted to be the best version of yourself in case word comes back to your friend.

The Federal Trade Commission also has a “cooling-off rule” that applies to home sales, sales outside of your regular place of business, or door-to-door sales contracts over $25. “In a high-pressure sales tactic, you may wish you had slowed down and done some research before signing on the dotted line.” says the FTC. There are exceptions to this rule, including sales that are made entirely online, by mail, or by phone, and sales that are necessary to deal with emergencies.

There are also rules that apply to contractor deposits in some U.S. states, according to. Angi.com, a platform for contractors. “Maryland and Virginia, for example, limit this amount to approximately 33% of the total contract price.”

“In Nevada and California, upfront payments when signing a contract are limited to 10% of the total estimated cost or $1,000, whichever is lower. You can expect to pay up to 25% as a down payment for the job otherwise.

The FTC has a “cooling-off rule” that applies to home sales, that is, sales outside of your regular place of business.

your story reminds me the man who couldn’t say no His gym trainer kept selling him more classes. He wanted to be liked, and he didn’t want to be disappointed. It cost him.

“I always say yes,” a man told me. I considered giving up my gym membership to avoid meeting these characters.

I asked him to find out why he would easily hand over his hard-earned cash with very little pressure. Was he afraid to offend these people? Was he worried about looking cheap? Was he simply exhausted by their hard sell?

Ask yourself these same questions. You were tired, emotional, and not feeling well, too tired to negotiate or even express your confusion.

We all sign a social contract to act with openness, integrity and transparency. When someone breaks this rule, it takes many of us a while to process what’s going on.

You paid $1,000 for your discomfort and awkwardness. I just didn’t give myself the time or space to process what had just happened, and I didn’t believe it until later that he admitted to raising the price.

There are many lessons to be learned from dealing with this contractor. It cost him $30 to cancel the check, but it could have been worse. It could cost you $1,000 and you’ve been staring at that door for years, knowing you’re being overcharged.

For every customer who calls this contractor on his heavy-handed sales techniques, probably five more people hand in that check. That’s why some sole proprietors sprinkle his 1-star reviews among their 5-star reviews.

And if this contractor wants to push the customer, demand all the money upfront, and raise the price of his work in hopes that the client won’t challenge him, here’s a lesson for him. , that too. But this is a numbers game. Some people love it, some people don’t. People like you stop checking.

If he covers the charges and asks you to pay the returned check fee, you are not obligated to pay it.

(This article has been updated to include the Contractor Act on Deposits.)

Yoyou For financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus, you can email The Manest. twitter.

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