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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50160
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I run a building company and I have a dispute with a

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Hi I run a building company and I have a dispute with a customer.
Our customer didn't like the garage doors we wanted to supply so choose their own. They asked us to purchase them on their behalf which we did and we fitted them as per the guidelines provided by the supplier.
The doors haven't held up to the weather and have begun to delaminate. I advised the customer that we could replace the doors however as it was winter that we wouldn't do it until the spring as the doors require numerous coats of sealant with several hours drying time in between. The customer wasn't happy with this and proposed they use a third party to fit the new doors. I agreed to this however on issuing a refund for the doors so the customer could purchase the new ones themselves I found that they had actually already painted the garage doors instead of sealing them (they were laminated oak garage doors) and intended to keep them. I issued the refund for the doors together with a sum to cover the decoration but not the figure for the new doors to be refitted as they obviously have no intention of doing this and are happy with the repair. I have as good will sent them £150 to cover the decoration costs which they say now cost them 250. I have asked them to provide me with a copy of the invoice for the decoration works and I will pay the difference for it. But they won't send me it they have ignored all requests.
Since this the customer has returned to me to say that the cost I have refunded for the doors is incorrect despite me providing a copy of the original purchase invoice showing what we paid for them. He believes that the doors should be the next size up and therefore wants more money back. He also believes I should reimburse him for the fitting cost that they haven't had completed.
There were also verbally agreed additional costs amounting to approximately £350 from other aspects of the project which he believes he doesn't have to pay for because he didn't agree them.
In terms of the money's owing they paid a stage payment, the stage was for an area of outside decking which as the project had run over we agreed they would have someone else complete this. There was then a completion payment which it was agreed would be off set against the stage payment and we would reimburse the difference. After the additional costs and the completion payment there is a sum of £150 approximately to be refunded too them. As they don't want to pay the additional costs obviously they want this refunded too. The costs we gave them for the original work were all clearly marked as estimates not quotes.
Have I done enough in terms of consumer law? They have threatened to take us to small claims for the amount they believe we owe them.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi hopefully I have given you enough info in my question if not please let me know thanks

How long ago did you complete the work ?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The garage doors were fitted last January they made us aware of an issue with them in January this year. The main body of the work was completed in November last year however we have had an ongoing plumbing issue there which has recently be resolved hence why now the final completion invoice has now been settled.

OK thank you, ***** ***** it with me. I am in court today so will prepare my advice during the day and get back to you at the earliest opportunity. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Thank you.

Many thanks for your patience. It does appear that you have acted reasonably here and that the customer may be trying their luck in getting some of these ‘outstanding’ cost being refunded to them. First of all you cannot be asked to refund the for items which you did not purchase, so if you had paid a specific price for the doors, unless you had purchased the wrong size and should have indeed got the next size up, you would only be expected to refund them the amount you spent on buying them.

If they are keeping the doors instead of having them replaced, then again you would not be expected to refund them for any fitting costs if no such costs have been incurred. You are entirely within your rights to request proof of such costs, together with any proof for decorating work, rather than just having to pay out on what they claim it cost.

The issue is that whatever has happened so far and even if you are entirely in the right, there is nothing stopping them from taking tis to the small claims court. It is their right to take this further in as much as it is your right to challenge that if it happens. They could of course simply be bluffing in the hope that you agree to reimburse them rather than have to face a potential claim so there is no guarantee that they will be going that far, but the possibility does unfortunately exist.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the rights you have should they end up making a claim, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply and confirming that what we have done is correct. If you could detail some further advise in terms of our rights if they make a claim that would be great. Thanks

Thank you. How much would they be claiming in total?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Approximately £600
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
This includes the additional cost for the garage door that he would like, the additional costs he doesn't want to pay for and the fitting of the new garage doors that they haven't had done yet. Thanks

Thank you. As mentioned there is nothing stopping them from making a claim if they really wanted to. In these circumstances you can always decide whether to take defend it and try your luck in court. If you were to do so then considering worst case scenario where you were to lose and are asked to pay the customer the full amount claimed, you would have to pay them that together with their claim and heating fees for making the claim. For a £600 claim these would be approximately £150 so altogether it would be £750 or so. But again this is only on the assumption that you lose and the court finds that you are responsible for reimbursing all of these costs.