unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

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audioaxes
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unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by audioaxes » Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:16 pm

This is in California. Getting some flooring done in my house. We gave the craigslist tier repair guy $2000 for some material upfront. In hindsight yes very foolish but this guy had done several other jobs for us in the past so we let our guard down. We did make an ad hoc receipt that he signed plus have a copy of his drivers license. He returned to do some work tasks that didnt involve the material but has been giving us excuse after excuse as to why he has not brought our material. Its now been 10 days since the day he should have brought the material and still no sign of it. At this point Im almost certain he spent our money on something else but I actually think he still has intentions of somehow coming through at the end and is stalling until that happens.
But worst case this doesnt happen Im trying to chart out my options... could I possibly file a police report?

mouses
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by mouses » Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:23 pm

The Better Business Bureau might help. At least they will try. I idiotically gave several hundred dollars in advance to a guy who never showed up and after I got nowhere they made several efforts to contact him. Didn't succeed but at least he has a ding if anyone looks him up on their website.

badger42
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by badger42 » Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:28 pm

Small claims court might be your best bet here.

fposte
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by fposte » Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:35 pm

I filed a police report when it happened to me. The cop told me that I was lucky only being out $200--he'd taken some old lady for $17k. I think my guy meant to do it as well, but I think drugs were more enticing than construction.

runner3081
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by runner3081 » Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:59 pm

Could always see if any local news channels have consumer advocates.

shell921
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by shell921 » Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:01 pm

What about a "consumer affairs department" ? I think some cities have these and you can file a complaint there.

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hand
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by hand » Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:15 pm

You can't get blood from a stone - if he is truly willing, but can't come up with $2k for the supplies, you'll never recover anything.
Best bet is to get him started on work that dosen't require supplies valued as close to $2k as possible, then refuse to pay until he delivers the supplies, or simply agree to call it even.

michaeljc70
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by michaeljc70 » Wed Oct 17, 2018 5:01 pm

I'm surprised at some of the responses. If the guy is still around, I wouldn't do those things at this point. You will never get your money back IMO if you get aggressive right away. 10 days isn't that long. You are probably right and he used the money for something else. It could be on another job or personal. Maybe he is trying to catch up. Suing him isn't going to create goodwill. And you will probably never get your money back even if you win in court. I would be patient for the time being and just ask when he might start the job that the material is for. If you scare him off you will never see the money (or even hear from him again).

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Watty
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by Watty » Wed Oct 17, 2018 5:34 pm

Was the labor over $2,000?

If so then one option would be to buy the material yourself and then have him install it and only pay him the balance due.

If he flakes out then you can have someone else install the flooring.

J295
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by J295 » Wed Oct 17, 2018 5:39 pm

If you like him, have a conversation with him. Many contractors fall on hard times, and perhaps he will want to find a way to do his best to do right by you

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dm200
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by dm200 » Wed Oct 17, 2018 6:34 pm

What could the OP have done differently to have avoided the problem?

I believe there are many fine such folks, by the nature of the business, that are faced with cash flow challenges.

Maybe (?) the OP could have purchased the needed material, but that might only work for some kinds of supplies/material.

jminv
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by jminv » Wed Oct 17, 2018 7:35 pm

Have had contractors flake out this way and leave jobs unfinished (I pay at end for small to medium jobs and occasionally percent of completion for larger ones). It usually turns out that they’ve found another job or have taken on a project that they’re busy with. Less often it’s a family or drug or criminal (arrested) issue. You have a receipt for the money he took from you so you can report him to the police when you want to. In the meantime, contact him and be firm about you wanting him do the job. If he keeps at it you can mention you have the receipt and can report him. This sort of flakiness is sadly all too common in this line of work.

seychellois_lib
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by seychellois_lib » Wed Oct 17, 2018 8:10 pm

I had a fellow do concrete work for me. He completed it and it was a nice job. What I did not realize is he had not paid the concrete supplier. Wound up with a Mechanics lien on my home. I got a super crash course on Mechanic's liens. We called the contractor and his assistant told us he had been arrested for spousal abuse and was in jail. Well there went my $1500 I assumed. I was going to have to pay the cost of the materials twice. But he got bailed out of jail and made good on the payment to the concrete vendor so all was well. Moral of the story, even if the contractor purchases material and you see it, ask for the receipt so you know it has been paid for. I am not sure if a Mechanic's lien can be executed this way in all states but it sure can in California.

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dm200
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by dm200 » Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:21 pm

seychellois_lib wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 8:10 pm
I had a fellow do concrete work for me. He completed it and it was a nice job. What I did not realize is he had not paid the concrete supplier. Wound up with a Mechanics lien on my home. I got a super crash course on Mechanic's liens. We called the contractor and his assistant told us he had been arrested for spousal abuse and was in jail. Well there went my $1500 I assumed. I was going to have to pay the cost of the materials twice. But he got bailed out of jail and made good on the payment to the concrete vendor so all was well. Moral of the story, even if the contractor purchases material and you see it, ask for the receipt so you know it has been paid for. I am not sure if a Mechanic's lien can be executed this way in all states but it sure can in California.
Yes -- Glad it finally worked out for you.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:27 pm

mouses wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:23 pm
The Better Business Bureau might help. At least they will try. I idiotically gave several hundred dollars in advance to a guy who never showed up and after I got nowhere they made several efforts to contact him. Didn't succeed but at least he has a ding if anyone looks him up on their website.
The BBB is a joke. I complained about a roofer who did a crappy job and refused to make it good. I put in a BBB complaint. Some time later, I checked the BBB website and it listed my complaint as "resolved". So I called them and was told that the roofer let them know that the complaint was resolved. Great.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

daheld
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by daheld » Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:51 pm

I'd consider it a $2,000 lesson and move on. I would stop beating around the bush and ask the guy what's going on. If he doesn't have supplies to you the following day, call it quits and move on. Seriously--is this a person you want hanging around your house doing unsupervised work?

Don't give money to contractors to buy supplies. Buy it yourself and have it delivered if you have to. Also, "Craigslist tier repair guy" is a nightmare waiting to happen. It pays off to pay quality contractors and get things done right.

iamlucky13
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by iamlucky13 » Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:57 pm

dm200 wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 6:34 pm
What could the OP have done differently to have avoided the problem?

I believe there are many fine such folks, by the nature of the business, that are faced with cash flow challenges.

Maybe (?) the OP could have purchased the needed material, but that might only work for some kinds of supplies/material.
This is an option I've even used in my day job before. I had a small shop put in a really good bid on a job when they were hungry for work, but did not have the cash/credit to purchase enough material for it. It was a tough market at the time, and it was a larger job than they normally worked. I purchased ~$20k worth of material and they did the work. I saved my employer quite a bit overall on that job.

This is not risk free, however. For one, they were cash and credit constrained because they hadn't proven reliable on difficult jobs (we used them a lot for easier work): I spent some of that savings on rework of things done wrong, although I knew that was a risk at the start.

And for a counterexample, A coworker had a case with a much bigger job at a much bigger shop that we didn't pay anything up front for, but did submit a substantial milestone payment part way through the work. Then things got quiet. We found out they had filed for liquidation and everyone had shown up to work one day to locked doors. Fortunately, we were able (I'm not sure how) to take possession of the partially finished products and arrange for another shop to complete the job, but I'm pretty sure total cost was higher than what that 2nd shop had submitted in their original losing bid, and it definitely hurt our schedule significantly.

But it is still much better, in my opinion, to buy the material yourself in this kind of situation than to front the money to a contractor.

barnaclebob
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by barnaclebob » Thu Oct 18, 2018 1:20 pm

In the future if not buying from an established business, buy the materials yourself.

He probably had a cash shortfall issue which caused him to start running the contractor version of a ponzi scheme using deposits from future jobs to pay for the materials on current jobs.

PVW
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by PVW » Thu Oct 18, 2018 1:24 pm

If you know this contractor has a history of completing jobs for you or anyone else, then this sounds like a cash flow problem. He probably spent your $2K on supplies for another job (maybe the job was to pick a winning horse). Just keep pestering him - he'll eventually find another sucker to prepay $2K for a job, then he can use that to buy your materials.

vested1
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by vested1 » Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:08 pm

You didn't mention if the contractor is licensed or not. edit: (Just noticed your thread title that states the contractor is unlicensed) I would ask him about that, and if he has a license, get the number for your own protection. If he is unlicensed he can only charge $500 for labor AND materials on any project in California. If he is unlicensed he is breaking the law already by accepting $2,000 from you to purchase the material for your new floor. California has gotten very aggressive in pursuing these violations due to lost revenue complaints from licensed contractors.

http://www.flooring.net/flooring-contra ... alifornia/

I just hired an unlicensed contractor that was listed on Angie's List to do some custom sheet rock repair in my home that I wasn't capable of. He did a great job. However, a flooring contractor requires a license. I'm having all the floors in my late MIL's condo replaced, about 777 sq feet, and am hiring a licensed contractor to do the job. I'll hire the same unlicensed contractor that repaired my sheet rock to place new baseboard throughout the condo after the new floors are in. The licensed flooring contractor wanted about $650 labor to install 282 linear feet of new baseboard. The unlicensed contractor will charge much less than that (max $500) and will still do a good job.

I'm saving money by painting the interior of the condo myself, and ripping up/hauling away the existing carpet and picking up the luxury vinyl plank flooring. The original estimate for material and labor on the floor was $4,395, but with the prep work I'm doing the cost goes down to $3,420.
Last edited by vested1 on Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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dm200
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by dm200 » Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:10 pm

Depending on the nature of the contractor and the applicable state and local rules, being "licensed" may not be necessary (or even available) in some jurisdictions.

Jags4186
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by Jags4186 » Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:11 pm

dm200 wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 6:34 pm
What could the OP have done differently to have avoided the problem?

I believe there are many fine such folks, by the nature of the business, that are faced with cash flow challenges.

Maybe (?) the OP could have purchased the needed material, but that might only work for some kinds of supplies/material.
Only work with people who accept credit card payments. That protects you. Even if you have to pay the 3% fee for the contractor to accept CC via Square.

vested1
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by vested1 » Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:13 pm

dm200 wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:10 pm
Depending on the nature of the contractor and the applicable state and local rules, being "licensed" may not be necessary (or even available) in some jurisdictions.
The OP stated that this work is being done in California.

c1over8
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by c1over8 » Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:22 pm

Remind the guy he is overdue to deliver the materials/start work and politely but firmly tell him you need to know exactly when he will deliver/start work. If that doesn't work follow up with a letter that says if he hasn't refunded your money or delivered by x date, you intend to file a lawsuit to recover the money. Then if that still doesn't work after awhile, you can file in small claims and report him to the licensing authority for your state (from someone else's post it sounds like he should be licensed to do this work so there is probably a way to report him to the licensing authority even though your post title says he is unlicensed).

audioaxes
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by audioaxes » Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:29 pm

dm200 wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 6:34 pm
What could the OP have done differently to have avoided the problem?

I believe there are many fine such folks, by the nature of the business, that are faced with cash flow challenges.

Maybe (?) the OP could have purchased the needed material, but that might only work for some kinds of supplies/material.
typically we always try to buy our materials. We decided to go with him because he agreed to package in a very good total price with going with his flooring material that he has the inside connection. In hindsight I should have went with him to this super secret material warehouse that he has yet to give me the info on and make the payment directly under his name.
Something else we also do is negotiate daily/milestone payment installments for labor. Not only does it mitigate issues of the contractor disappearing before the work is done it also motivates them to not coast through a job after they got upfront cash.

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sergeant
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Re: unlicensed repair guy possibly spent our material deposit

Post by sergeant » Fri Oct 19, 2018 1:05 am

The guy violated California Penal Code section 484b. Call your local law enforcement agency and file a report. Bring the section I mentioned with you in case the patrol person tries to say it's a civil issue. The Da will file the charges and part of his sentence will be to reimburse you. I'm not saying the guy will ever actually reimburse you but the DA will file charges. I've handled hundreds of these cases.
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