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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Dear Answer UK, Re: contractor issuesI had an electrical

Customer Question

Dear Answer UK,
Re: contractor issues
I had an electrical problem at my house two years ago and called out a local electrician. He came around and could not find the reason for the short circuit. He said that he had to come back to do extensive 'investigations' as this is an 'older' house, but recently refurbished and in good condition. His engineers made several visits, going over the same ground, they gave some advice about 'improvements' I should make around the house. However they never found the fault, they did not make improvements to any of the electrical 'triggers' they had pointed out. They merely put a black plastic binliner over an electrical box outdoors and a bit of wire on my gutter as they said it dripped on an outdoor socket. I kept asking them for a quote as I was worried about the hours they spent here and when they would resolve the problem. They promised they would not charge for hours 'doubled up' when different engineers checked the same circuits. I asked them for interim invoices. I never received anything except one invoice for a callout at the very start but they said I could pay for the job at 'the end' once the job was finished. After a period of six months and the same circuit kept tripping regularly they stopped coming, ignored my requests for a solution and for a cost overview. Then I resolved the problem myself!! A faulty bulb in my fridge kept tripping the system. It was very simple and so obvious as the fridge always tripped when the fault occurred. So I heard nothing from the electricians, no invoice, until this months, their last visit was 14 months ago! They want me to pay for the time they spent here solving nothing, counting every minute of 'duplicated' time and the bills add up to £ 750 !! Do they legally have a right to do this? I had no quote. They fixed nothing. They pottered around and could not find this very obvious fault. They knew the fridge had tripped every time. They were either trying to rack up hours or were severely incompetent. It seems to me that every time they had nothing to do they sent a different team of engineers out to rack up some hours. Can I refuse to pay? It is outrageous. If the invoice was genuine why do they send it between 14 and 20 months late? I just had a long drawn out email exchange in which they claim that they are 'highly respected' local electricians who do an honest job.
I think it would be reasonable to make them an 'offer' for what I think was 'genuine' time spent here and not 'doubling up the same work'. This would be just payment for time spent here however, they fixed nothing and their visits were entirely in vain. Or should I refuse to pay altogether as the service was incompetent and we have no written agreement on cost? Would it be acceptable not to pay in a court of law, because I received no quote for works nor did they repair anything?
Thanks for your advice.
Mireille
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jenny replied 7 months ago.
Hello my name is ***** ***** I am happy to help you today. So to be clear you were never told you would be charged for the investigation?

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