After an Electrician completed a job in our home, we received an invoice for double the amount. He quoted us 1.5-2 hrs for the job. I agreed to this price verbally over the phone. He did not provide a written quotation, nor did we sign a quotation.The said electrician called my wife later that day to say he would need to bring a helper. Shortly thereafter, we received the invoice billing us for double the time (5 hours when he was there for half that time with a helper). He did not indicate to my wife that he would be charging us for the second 'helper'. By the way, this helper only pulled wires yet we were charged a full time electrician's wage of $75/hr for both of them. The total bill was just over $500 to relocate one light switch to the adjacent wall and move a fireplace fan switch just below the light switch.Shocked by the invoice, I called him to make arrangements to pay. Having a graphic design and website development business, I suggested trading for services. He said he was interested, would speak with his brother and get back to me. All this took place in August of 2010. I didn't hear from him again until the summer of 2011 and that was by way of another invoice in our door with a 'past due' note.I called him immediately to discuss and said the ball was last left in his court. Not only that, I expressed my dissatisfaction with bill for double the amount we agreed upon and that I did not approve bringing on another full-time electrician. I expressed also that I felt he took advantage of the fact that I was away at work and just saw this as a cash grab. I've spoken with other tradesmen and electricians who all say his charges are double what they should be. He made some verbal threats on the phone, saying "see what happens" and hung up the phone.I wrote him a long letter following this conversation explaining why I believed his bill to be unjust, and agreed to pay him the agreed upon fee for one electrician for the total time and his supplies, about $270. I told him I would not be paying him anymore than what was agreed upon verbally. The check that I sent with this letter was cashed.In my mind cashing the check was an acceptance of the terms of the letter. However, today I received a letter from a collection agency for the remaining $211. Needless to say, I'm outraged. Now my credit is on the line, I can't contact the electrician according to the collection agent, and they want payment in full within 10 days or else, this that and the other. I tried to find a governing body for electricians in BC, considered filing with the BBB, but found nothing for the former, and feel the latter is really not going to get me anywhere. The issue at hand is having to pay this fee and feeling as though I have no recourse. I'm a pretty level person, but the principal of this circumstance leaves me frustrated to say the least.In summary, I'm wondering if I have any legal ground, and if so, what can I do? How can I deal with the collection agent? Is there not some type of statute of limitations given the time that has passed (2years), his cashing of the check which accompanied the statement that this was what I was offering as final payment, his lack of a signed quotation and submission of an invoice that was double what was agreed upon? I don't have issue with paying him according to our verbal contract, but......Sorry for the wordiness here, I'm just at a loss. My wife says to pay it, seemingly being the lesser of two evils but I just want to know my rights before rolling over for this guy.Thank you in advance,Mike
Province/Territory relating to question: British Columbia
phone call, contra (barter), letter, payment
It does not sound to me that you owe the money because he gave you a quote and it's not reasonable to think he can then arbitrarily say you have to pay twice as much.
You can tell the collection agency to sue you.
If the bother it will be in Small Claims Court and you can self-represent.
If it gets that far you can post on this site again and I can assist you.
HI Debra - I spoke with you in the past about a motorcycle - not sure if you recall
You can also be more aggressive and state that you will sue them for damages to your credit record if they file and report and if the did they had better remove it.
Do you think I should address the collection agency via letter with these statements?
Yes I do.
and, should I give a full account (as sent to you) to the collection agency as to what happened?
For all I know they have no idea of the details surrounding this.
I don't think so as they will not care.
I think you should say this was an overcharge and you are surprised to hear from them as the matter had been settled and you will sue for damages to your credit rating.
The other thing that came to mind is that if I give a quote on a job, and then decide I need a 'helper', I would pay that helper out of my agreed upon quote to my client, not underhandedly charge the client. If the client is to be charged, they need to be made fully aware ahead of time that the quotation will double....in my mind
I agree completely.
I don't think a Court will think you have to pay.
Am I correct in my assumption that having sent a clear letter outlining that the accompanying check was my final payment for the agreed upon services AND having that check cashed is a non-verbal agreement to the terms of that letter?
I also told him prior to sending the letter, on the phone, that I would pay him for the agreed upon time/materials for one labourer
legally speaking, of course
His cashing the cheque does not mean he agreed to only take that amount but your other points are valid for sure.
I guess what gets me the most is that there doesn't seem to be anything in place to protect the consumer.
A person can come in, decide to charge you whatever they want and send the collection agency after you
whether in the right or wrong
That is correct which is why you can threaten to sue and sue if necessary.
The system is horrible without a doubt.
Do people sue for $200
he might just call my bluff
I don't think they will sue you at all.
certainly the fees would be exorbitant
I am just concerned that your credit record will be harmed.
I appreciate your advice
I will certainly send a letter -
Thanks. You are very welcome.
now I suspect more letters will follow as will phone calls from the CA
what would you do in that case?
I just want to ensure I am acting within my rights
Perhaps in the first letter, close with 'cease further correspondence' or ' send further correspondence to my lawyer 'Debra Thal' ;)
I would likely just ignore them unless my record was really hurt and then I would threaten to sue and sue if necessary.
I need some way of closing the discussion
I think you can say you will be retaining a lawyer if necessary.
You can say you will not tolerate any harassment from them.
One last thing, is there any legal literature on line pertaining to Canadian law and my personal rights in this regard? Something I can refer to when drafting this letter?
You can start reading here:
You are welcome.
Would you be willing to review/add to a quick letter if I draft something up? I don't need hand-holding here and won't exhaust you with this - it would just be good to have a professional set of eyes to review.
Oh - and is there a time limit on these things? This is all stemming from work done in 2010! - followup invoice came 1 year later after he showed interest in trading services, and then the collection agency letter came today, 9 mo after that!
Sorry. I was tucking a kid in bed.
In BC they have six years to sue.
In most other provinces it's only 2.
I am not permitted to review documentation as that would be providing legal advice and we can only provide legal information.
I see - no problem...
Just re-read our chat
That is my concern as well
I meant would they call my fluff on me suing them over 200
but I guess it would be for damages to my credit rating.
Again that is really what is troubling me.
But I hate to 'just pay' for this fear
I don't think it's ego, but principle
So you can pay and the sue them or not pay and threaten to sue them if they harm your record.
I think I'll go with the latter approach as I'd rather not go to court. If I pay them it would be to put this to bed if you know what I mean.
Ok - thank you again for your time and level advice. If the kids are down, surely you need some down time too ;).
Best to you.
I'll be back if things escalate.
My kids are actually big. The youngest whom I tucked in is 16. But I am going to bed as soon as we are done. I am in Ontario and it's late here.
Cheers XXXXX -
Take good care.