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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71048
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Can you please advise whether I have the right to challenge

Customer Question

Can you please advise whether I have the right to challenge a service provider to give me the costs of the project management service they provide as a separate item to the goods they supply and fit? Also do I have any right to reduce the project management fee after work is completed if I feel that they have not project managed the service well? This relates to the installation of a bathroom.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
-Could you explain your situation a little more?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I hired a project manager to provide an all-in-one service to refurbish my bathroom. This was a follow-on job to one that they had completed as a post-flood renovation in October 2014 so I knew the tradesmen and trusted the work they did in my home. They were a recommendation from a family member. I have asked several times for them to confirm what their project management fee consists of as a separate item on their estimates. They have declined to answer the question. They also specified the full manufacturer's recommended price on all the items on the quotes, and when I queried why they weren't passing on their trade discounts they told me that this was their project management fee and they don't pass on their discounts on any products. Subsequently, the work has been almost completed. There remain some snagging items outstanding and they insisted that I was to pay the trades they work with directly (not having done this on the previous job with all of the trades). They then say there are one or 2 trades they pay directly themselves. Their invoicing was also confused and as there is some snagging work to be done I have paid all but £1,035 of the £16,000 bill - which I have told them I will pay once the snagging is completed to my satisfaction and once my queries on some of the pricing were resolved. They have now slapped me with a demand for payment or legal action will be taken against me. I wanted to understand my rights as I wish to pay for the work that has been done, not be overcharged, have their fee visible and then opt to reduce their fee as I don't feel that they have project managed the job appropriately. They specified a towel radiator that could only go into the space upside down and it has taken me 3 weeks to get them to agree that it is upside down at all - I went to the manufacturer to get confirmation. They have also given me incorrect estimates on timing - I was asked to relocate for 2 days which turned into 6 and then the job halted for 2 weeks as one of their trades was suddenly unavailable. Do I have any rights to challenge any of this? Thank you
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Did you agree to pay an overall price?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes - that's fine. Is it easier to do this on the phone?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I can do that but it will rack up the cost for you. I am perfectly happy to do this online if you prefer.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Online is fine. Have to leave the office now - are you able to email me directly to my personal email?***@******.***.Many thanks
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Ok. What I need to know is whether you agreed an overall price in advance? No urgency though.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Jo - sorry have been unwell. There was an estimate sent through originally, which had items specified on it which I then changed. A total figure was quoted on the estimate and I was asked to sign a form agreeing to the costs. I declined to sign the form as the estimate had incorrect information on it. They subsequently resent the estimate with the right info on it and commenced work. I still haven't signed their form but I'm guessing that since I allowed them to start work that I implied agreement to the costs. They specified an estimated price for tiles but never confirmed (until I raised it) what the actual costs were after they'd started invoicing for the work - their price was noted with the caveat 'depending on tiles chosen'. They also over-measured, over-ordered tiles and I had to ask them to adjust the pricing to reflect the return of the unused tiles. The pricing has gone up for every trade as there was what they deem to be 'additional work' undertaken so I have already paid more than originally specified. Thanks Jacqui
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
OK. Thanks for coming back.
Are they roughly on target on that quote?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
And I presume the work was completed basically to specification?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes - with the exception of them putting the towel radiator in upside down and not discussing its orientation with me. They then blamed the shape of the wall as the reason they did this - but they recommended and specified the radiator for the space, I didn't specifically request it. There are a couple of snagging style issues outstanding - the toilet seat is not straight, there is a fault on the hose for the shower handset in the bath and they have done the pointing on brickwork in the wall in the wrong colour. There was in my view, less work done in the carpentry although they rigorously deny that and have insisted the fee remains as originally estimated for that piece. I did successfully challenge the quantity of tile fitted and the costs of that. We are still about 7 tiles out in my view (about £50) but that's relatively minor.I had withheld the balance of the sum owed to them until the snagging was done, the issues on the costs of the tiling resolved and they had explained some details in their invoicing. They now believe they have done that - but this was only after they issued a demand for payment via a debt collector and they're now chasing me every day threatening legal action if I don't pay by tomorrow. They are refusing to complete snagging items until payment is made also.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Those are supply of goods and services issues which are valid in themselves.
They don't give rise to a challenge to the price. You are bound to pay the price quoted within a margin of 15% unless you have asked for more work or reduced the work required.
They do not have to provide details about their invoicing I'm afraid. The price agreed is the price due.
The snagging does need to be put right though. Whether you can withhold from the payment depends on the severity of the snagging. Genuine issues that are actionable under consumer acts have a stronger chance. Matters that just amount to dissatisfaction are different unless you agreed that satisfaction was guaranteed.
the problem with refusing payment though is that it creates an impasse as they will just refuse to finish. The reality is that they could sue although you could defend on the basis that the job is not finished.
You can always offer to pay a lesser sum such as half with a promise that the other half will be paid when they complete.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I guess the only thing is the hidden amount of their Project Management fee that they have refused to disclose. Does that then effectively not matter given the full amount specified in their original estimates, even though I asked them to clarify what it was right back at the beginning?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Whatever the hidden amount, if you agreed to pay X then X within 15% is due.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Unless, of course, he hasn't done the work.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
OK thank you
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No problem and all the best.
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