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job dragging out client holding up completion4/23
Have an interesting situation with one of our jobs.
The job has been a nightmare from the start. Difficult customer, not understanding the shop drawings we have provided and discussed. Second guessing their own design decisions after the fact....the list goes on. I did them a lot of favours!
We got the job to a point where there were just a few things left to do, we were waiting for client decisions. They held out payment and I pushed hard and said pay your bill as I have finished 99% of your job months ago, leave a $250 retainer on the job until we completely finish. They did this and then a year went by.
We went back after about a year and of course they started picking issues, generally small design issues. I got my back up and said it's not fair that they have been looking at these things for a year and made an issue of them now.
We are now at a point where we have a list of things to fix. All parts ready to go and I want to get out there get it done so I can get their crap out of my factory. Wipe the job off my list and move on. It's not about the money anymore I just want the deal done.
I have made contact and said now is the opportunity to get this stuff done before we get busy and it can't be done for months. No response so I escalated and said I'll drop off the materials and wave the remaining $250 and they can take care of it themselves. I was hoping that would spur them on and I could fill a gap while we are quiet.
They said now is not the time and they will wait till we are available and they are ready. If history repeats. when they are ready they will just continually pester me until I go there and I'm sure it will be when were flat out.
I'm totally over it but don't really know what to say. I have never experienced a customer like it.
Keep in mind I have nothing in my paperwork to describe how we deal with this situation. Of course I am going to put something in for future purposes but I'm still left dealing with this one.
Any advise or past experience would be great. Thankyou.
Breach of contract for them.
No matter what this sort of thing is going to happen.
Choose your customers carefully. This is where your policy needs to be.
I asked a buddy of mine who's shop had been in business since the late 50s, why they didn't have this sort of trouble.
They pretty much worked along the coast in one of the highest dig areas in the US. Their main customer was the go to contractor for this area. He would interview the customers as part of the bids, houses in the 8 figure range. Through this interview they could determine if the person was going to be trouble and would then give them a very long estimate of time or cost, in order to discourage them.
Beyond that the usual lien process.
Another tactic I have heard of is to find the sweet spot in the size of the jobs. i.e. ultra jobs are too fussy, the one that are high end but not to the ultra level puts the people in a different mind set and don't have the time to screw around.
Commercial work is a different deal to which the only answer is perfecting the lien.
You could write them a very nice letter explaining that if they don't care about finishing their job on some sort of timely basis, how can you possibly do so?
You could tell them that their parts have been ready for a long time and you'll have to start charging them for storage.
You could tell them that if they continue to jerk you around (stated nicely, of course) you'll turn the matter over to your lawyer.
Better yet, just call your lawyer and have him send a nice $100 letter outlining your position.
That simplifies everything and lets them know that you're done screwing around with their year-old nonsense.
If you have 99% of the money and they are dragging out the completion of the project, then the hat you take off when you get to work is the appropriate hat for the situation. We never know what is going on in a customers life. We are not like a restaurant that only take a portion of someone day with our service. Our services often takes weeks to complete and the customer deals with it for years.
I wouldn't do anything with that customer. Wrap up the work you have left, and store it. No charges, no threats, nothing. Coming up short just $250 isn't all that bad, and no reason to worry and loose sleep over it. Maybe they'll call you, maybe not. Just don't throw away the work you having sitting there. But of course, use the $250 inspire you to learn and rewrite your contract.
I agree with rich c. Forget about it until they contact you, then fit it in at your convenience. The bigger question is how to avoid difficult customers in the first place. I have one now, so I'm not exactly the one to give advice except to say that this particular guy gave off enough signals that he was going to be trouble. I knew better, but I'm a builder, and had a job in hand so I took it. The hidden message, for me, is to listen to my gut.