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Old 10-22-2014, 02:23 PM   #21
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
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Originally Posted by Totoro View Post
...Remember that the inverse also happens: contractor pays for his materials, customer goes bankrupt...
IMO, that's a risk of being in business. As a customer, it's not my role to mitigate the contractor's business risk. At least he has possession of the material, which can be liquidated. Much different than the inverse when a consumer writes a check and gets nothing.

I won't do business with any contractor that requires a deposit. I learned my lesson with a fence contractor when I was about 28-29 years old, who no-showed after I gave him a check for $400. I'm OK with progress payments for a large job that takes several weeks or months. But for most smaller jobs, if they don't have the basic wherewithal to buy materials and pay their workers for the week or so it takes to complete the job, then that's a red flag that there are bigger issues.

I take it even further... We had a bathroom remodel recently and I negotiated a 10% holdback to be paid 45 days after completion, just in case any issues came up after the job. The contractor had no issue with this. We did have two problems with a slow leak under the sink and an exhaust fan that quit working. Both problems got resolved within an hour after we called.

Just last week, I had a contractor come out to measure a very large, and oddly-shaped double-pane window that lost its seal. He gave me the quote, and I said OK. He then said, we'll need a 40% deposit for the material cost since it will have to be custom made. I said, is that really necessary? I'd prefer to pay when the job is done. He said, no problem, we can work with that.
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Old 10-22-2014, 02:50 PM   #22
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
I know that when that happened to my sister and some of her neighbors the police said it was a civil matter.
That response will be received 99% of the time. Rightly or wrongly, the police have neither resources nor inclination to pursue such disputes.

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Originally Posted by RunningBum View Post
Sometimes the local TV station will help out here. The threat of a story may make the owner do something. It's worth a shot if one of them does any kind of consumer advocacy help work.
As the business is apparently now closed, potential loss of goodwill seems like a hollow threat.

In any case, the story of the company's recent failure has already been published (see WPTV link provided by OP).

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Originally Posted by Cobra9777 View Post
IMO, that's a risk of being in business. As a customer, it's not my role to mitigate the contractor's business risk. At least he has possession of the material, which can be liquidated. Much different than the inverse when a consumer writes a check and gets nothing.

I won't do business with any contractor that requires a deposit.
+1.
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Old 10-22-2014, 04:36 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
I know that when that happened to my sister and some of her neighbors the police said it was a civil matter...
It's a subtle distinction that most with no legal experience often find hard to understand. The underlying issue is one of intent, and the state's ability to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that intent. That's a high bar to clear as it should be.

In a case like this that's why proving that the owner knew the business was going to go bankrupt at the time he cashed the deposit check is crucial. In MD that's theft by scheme and design and it is a criminal matter. But proving that intent is often impossible. That, and being a poor businessman and making bad judgments/decisions is not a crime either.

And indeed almost all of the time it is a civil matter.

For example, in one case we received a lot of complaints about an eBay seller accepting money for custom-made computers but not shipping them, this back about 1995 or so. I applied for and obtained a search warrant for the address, an apartment. The guy was cooperative and almost as soon as I walked in I could see it was going to be a civil case, not criminal.

There were boxes of computer parts stacked waist-high in the living room, den, and bedroom. What happened is that his prices were so low that he grossly underestimated demand, he had a full time job elsewhere, and simply didn't have the time to build them fast enough to fulfill the orders in a timely manner. This was clearly not a case of someone intending to abscond with the money and who was guilty of at most bad judgment.

We referred the case to the consumer protection department, where they would most likely contact the people and ask if they wanted a refund or wait for what they ordered.
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Old 10-22-2014, 06:29 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Walt34 View Post
It's a subtle distinction that most with no legal experience often find hard to understand. The underlying issue is one of intent, and the state's ability to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that intent. That's a high bar to clear as it should be.

In a case like this that's why proving that the owner knew the business was going to go bankrupt at the time he cashed the deposit check is crucial. In MD that's theft by scheme and design and it is a criminal matter. But proving that intent is often impossible. That, and being a poor businessman and making bad judgments/decisions is not a crime either.

And indeed almost all of the time it is a civil matter.

For example, in one case we received a lot of complaints about an eBay seller accepting money for custom-made computers but not shipping them, this back about 1995 or so. I applied for and obtained a search warrant for the address, an apartment. The guy was cooperative and almost as soon as I walked in I could see it was going to be a civil case, not criminal.

There were boxes of computer parts stacked waist-high in the living room, den, and bedroom. What happened is that his prices were so low that he grossly underestimated demand, he had a full time job elsewhere, and simply didn't have the time to build them fast enough to fulfill the orders in a timely manner. This was clearly not a case of someone intending to abscond with the money and who was guilty of at most bad judgment.

We referred the case to the consumer protection department, where they would most likely contact the people and ask if they wanted a refund or wait for what they ordered.


I agree... when the police first came they talked to my sister and her neighbor... he had done a lot of work at my sister's house and had tore out parts of the kitchen at the neighbor.... it wasn't until other neighbors said they had paid a deposit and the guy never did anything to their house that the police did anything...

In reality, nothing really was done... I think there was a charge for a crime, but he had left the state and nothing else happened... but I think it made some of the neighbors feel a little better...
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Old 10-22-2014, 06:43 PM   #25
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In reality, nothing really was done... I think there was a charge for a crime, but he had left the state and nothing else happened... but I think it made some of the neighbors feel a little better...
If there is an outstanding warrant, even if it is for a misdemeanor (and states rarely if ever extradite from another state for misdemeanors) those things have a way of popping up at the most inconvenient times.

Returning from a foreign country, Customs will hold the person until it is determined whether the issuing jurisdiction will come and get him. They probably won't but the guy is sitting in a cell for several hours until that is ascertained.

Maybe he forgets about it and 15 years later goes back to visit a friend, gets stopped for speeding and then it is discovered.

If that happens he's gonna have a hard time convincing a judge he should be released on a low bond. Not a good thing to have hanging over one's head. I had a couple of ten-year-old cases pop up that way.
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Old 10-23-2014, 07:40 PM   #26
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Dad filed a police report and they said they had gotten several others from people in the same situation with this company. But who knows if it will go anywhere.
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Old 10-23-2014, 07:56 PM   #27
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I have never had this happen to me, but boy it still makes my blood boil thinking about it. I hunted down a person to roof my house after noticing his work on another persons house I inquired about. He ordered all materials and made me pay for them directly. He told me to pay his part when he completed it. I guess now thinking about it, he put a lot of trust in me to pay him! If someone screwed me out of 20k, I would give serious consideration to going in debt another grand or two to have someone give him an anonymous butt kicking he wouldn't forget.


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Old 10-23-2014, 08:43 PM   #28
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We have had a lot of contractors over the years and at least half said no deposit necessary, to just pay them when the work was done, from painters to roofers to carpenters. Of course, they can put a lien on the property if they don't get paid.

I hope the OP's father gets his money back. I saw in one of the links that other places in that area are offering discounts to the burned customers.
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Old 10-24-2014, 06:50 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Cobra9777 View Post
....I won't do business with any contractor that requires a deposit. ....
In most cases, I tell them that I pay my bills on time so it should not be a problem for them and that is good enough. If I'm in the right mood, I jokingly respond that I am not a bank and don't provide working capital.

I did have one instance when we built our new garage that the contractor wanted an advance for the custom roof trusses. I pushed back and he explained that he had been stuck by a customer who abandoned a project after he had ordered some custom trusses. Since I had previously done a couple projects with this contractor and in all instances he had done what he said he would do I did do the advance in that one instance. I would not have done it with someone who I didn't have a history of doing business with.

But on a more recent heating project, the contractor wanted a 40% deposit and I just said that I was an existing customer who had a history of paying their bills on time and they said payment after the work was done was fine.
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