Recovering money from contractors

Recovering money from contractors

11:31 AM, 26th August 2014, About 9 years ago 7

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I have a plumbing contractor who took money up front as a deposit to buy materials for a renovation and never finished the job or actually bought the materials! Recovering money from contractors

I have asked for £1,000 of the £2,000 he took from me and he agreed via text to pay the very next day (don’t worry I didn’t think this would happen immediately). However, a couple of weeks on and the money has still not materialised and I have now informed him of my decision to take him to small claims.

He has just texted saying he cannot pay £1,000 in one lump sum and giving me the poor contractor with family line, but wishes to repay the whole £2000 in instalments of £250 per week.

My question is, should I accept his terms or legally am I digging myself some kind of hole?

I am fully aware he is a sole trader and will not want any CCJ’s.

Thanks in advance for any advice


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Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

11:38 AM, 26th August 2014, About 9 years ago

Hi Angela

Why would you trust anything this person says to you ever again?

And why on earth would you settle for £1,000 on the basis of having paid £2,000?

Clearly you've been caught by a scam artist! Don't feel bad about it, I was too once. I didn't settle for excuses or repayment in dribs and drabs though, I made sure he went to prison and he will soon go back again if he doesn't make full recompense. That's a separate story though and dates back to when I lived in Florida.

You could take him to the Small Claims Court but be prepared to be given the run-around if you do. The alternative in this instance is a private criminal prosecution and it needn't cost you a penny.

Mark Smith (Barrister-At-Law) has written a few very interesting blogs about this recently ....

See >>>

and >>>

angela martin

11:53 AM, 26th August 2014, About 9 years ago

Hi Mark, Thanks for the advice. My underlying feeling is he is a chancer. Feel bad for the guys who brought him in, they are mortified. I will read the blogs and do exactly what you say. I don't want him to do this to anyone else with my help!

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

12:16 PM, 26th August 2014, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "angela martin" at "26/08/2014 - 11:53":

Hi Angela

That was my rationale for having the Florida scam artist sent down. I own a house on a lake out there and wanted a fishing dock bult.

The con artist had managed to worm his way in with the Chairman of the Home Owners Association who was the first to invest $10,000 into having a boat dock built. He managed to negotiate a bulk discount by referring other lakeside homeowners to get theirs built too. Fortunately I the fishing dock I wanted was comparitively cheap but still amounted to $2,500 nevertheless.

I never met the con artist but relied on my friend Paul's judgement. Paul was the HOA chairman, we had been close friends for many years. He was one of the nicest and most inspirational people I have ever met.

Lot's of people lost a lot of money and my friend Paul died of a heart attack shortly after we all realised we had been scammed. We will never know whether the stress of this situation was the cause.

Needless to say, the con artist never ordered and materials or turned up with anything but excuses. It was our collective duty to stop him from ripping off others and we did exactly that.

David Asker

12:57 PM, 26th August 2014, About 9 years ago

If you do wish to use small claims court it really is very simple using the governments own Money Claim Online website.

In the first instance though be sure you know who you are suing and include their personal name and trading entity in proceedings.

If you do get judgment and payment is not forthcoming you may want to enforce the matter using an HCEO.

Mandy Thomson

14:04 PM, 27th August 2014, About 9 years ago

I've got a similar issue at the moment, but where mine differs from Angela's is the 2 "jobs" were actually done (as was I). Also, the "work" was carried out by a small limited company, not a sole trader.

Job #1 was a basic extractor fan which only worked for the first couple of weeks, and job #2 was some internal plaster, which is still wet 18 months later, both in the bathroom of my property, which has an ongoing issue with both penetrating damp and condensation.

The company have been less than co-operative to say the least, giving me the run around initially, then only agreeing to come out to check their own work after I sent them a letter before action - IF I paid them £79.00+VAT!!

I have gotten reports from other companies (as evidence) and sought a legal opinion before taking them to the small claims court, but decided to give them just one last chance - so far just arguments from the staff member while the boss was away, and nothing further since the boss has been back, although he has only had one full day in the office (though if it were my company that someone was threatening to sue, I'd be on it straight away!).

But where does poor workmanship, sloppy management and practices, bad customer service etc end, and deliberate criminal deception begin?

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

14:50 PM, 27th August 2014, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "27/08/2014 - 14:04":

This definitely isn't criminal. The Small Claims Court exists for disputes of this nature.

It is only a crime if a person intents to defraud, e.g. taking money with no intention to do the work or collecting money and failing to pass it onto the correct party. There of several instances of letting agents going bust where the latter would apply.

Mandy Thomson

15:13 PM, 27th August 2014, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "27/08/2014 - 14:50":

I have encountered several sole traders that haven't DELIBERATELY defrauded their customers, but have simply managed both their business (and themselves!) so badly that the result is criminal fraud... But the company who let me down are supposed have a great deal of expertise in their field - they carry out that type of work and nothing else, and have 25 years experience. I would expect them to know exactly what they were doing, and in the event the work did go wrong, to be able and willing to put it right, whereas a sole trader is more likely to have much more limited resources, especially during tough economic times.

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