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Infolawyer
Infolawyer, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 54782
Experience:  Licensed attorney helping individuals and businesses.
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I live in Florida. A contractor installed a pool pump. One

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I live in Florida. A contractor installed a pool pump. One year later the pump and timer stopped working. Since it was real close to the anniversary date, I told the contractor to fix whatever is still under warranty, perhaps the pump shorted the timer, and that might somehow be covered. I had to leave for work, and he said he would take care of this. Later, I get a text message that he had to replace the pump but it wasn't covered under the warranty since a "frog" short circuited the timer. This work was not authorized. I get a bill for five times the amount that a pool store would have charged for the same work. The $75 timer was charged at $320 (after a 20% discount!) and instead of just replacing the motor for the pump system (which is the way the pool store told me it should have been done) at a cost of $200, he replaced the entire unit (pool store price $450 incidentally) for $1300 (after 20% courtesy discount). He also told me he wasn't going to charge for labor. Total bill over $1700. I don't believe there was a problem with the pump in the first place, just the timer shorted out. Nevertheless, none of this work was authorized in the first place, no contract was signed, no mention that warranty did not cover items, and no estimated was ever given before work was started. Even the one year old pump system was taken away so I could not verify that it was broken. What is my recourse? I have a face to face meeting with him this Saturday, and have asked him to bring back the old pump system, my thoughts are to have him remove the parts he put on and return the system the way it was prior to his handling. I'm also concerned about the Florida contractor lien law here. Also, I know in California, any work over $500 must have a signed contract. Is there a similar law here in Florida? Thank you for your attention and help.

INFOLAWYER :

Hello and thank you for the question.

INFOLAWYER :

You have a claim for breach of contract

INFOLAWYER :

If licensed, you may threaten to report to licensing board

INFOLAWYER :

and a complaint to the BBB and dept of consumer affairs.

INFOLAWYER :

You do not need it in writing

INFOLAWYER :

You can support the claim based on your discussions, anything else exchanged, monies paid, partial work performed

INFOLAWYER :

You may if needed proceed in small claims court and avoid hiring a lawyer.

INFOLAWYER :

Even if out of warranty, a claim on breach of contract, misrepresentation and unjust enrichment exists

INFOLAWYER :

Is the answer acceptable or can I clarify anything?

Customer:

What about this contractor threatening a lien on property? I have since read reviews of his company where some complained about shoddy work and refused to pay. They were threatened with a lien on their property.

INFOLAWYER :

That threat is common and baseless

INFOLAWYER :

typically not filed

INFOLAWYER :

if filed, when you sue you would have the lien removed

INFOLAWYER :

the fact others complained is helpful

INFOLAWYER :

shows a pattern of conduct which a judge would take note as would the BBB

Customer:

Most of his reviews however are favorable. Does it make sense to have contractor remove the work he did and replace the original parts he took off? And why do you say this is breech of contract?

INFOLAWYER :

The breach amounts from the misrepresentation about the pricing and any issues you have with the quality

INFOLAWYER :

the fact some have complained about work, shows there have been problems in past, and lend support that this is a problematic contractor

INFOLAWYER :

the focus though will be on your facts, and what was agreed to

INFOLAWYER :

typically such claims will settle

INFOLAWYER :

and you wont be pressed to prove the case

Customer:

And no law exsists in Florida as in California for a signed work contract over $500?

INFOLAWYER :

Not in this situation

Customer:

Also, what if contractor states he had the go ahead? My word against his? And what about the price gouging?

INFOLAWYER :

Courts would judge credibility

INFOLAWYER :

consider past performance

INFOLAWYER :

look at fair market value and business practices

INFOLAWYER :

and typically encourage settlement

INFOLAWYER :

given amounts involved

Customer:

Should I have him remove, undo and replace what he did?

INFOLAWYER :

You can ask

INFOLAWYER :

You should have photos taken

INFOLAWYER :

to record the condition left

INFOLAWYER :

and your demands for compensation, removal

INFOLAWYER :

do them in writing

INFOLAWYER :

so you have records

INFOLAWYER :

I trust the answer is clear and acceptable

Customer:

The condition left is perfect...it all works...but the point is I didn't authorize it, and if I knew it would cost, would have had pool store people do it for 1/4 the cost.

INFOLAWYER :

Courts would normally direct a settlement here. To permit no recovery, results in unjust enrichment

INFOLAWYER :

since work was fine

INFOLAWYER :

but since not authorized court would expect a large discount

INFOLAWYER :

it will typically seek to do equity balancing the benefit of the work versus lack of authority

INFOLAWYER :

Is that clear?

Customer:

Ok, I guess I'll try a settlement for charges on Saturday (even though I still will be screwed on price), and if no settlement...off to small claims court, right?

INFOLAWYER :

Exactly

INFOLAWYER :

what I would do in your place

INFOLAWYER :

Good luck!!

INFOLAWYER :

Kindly click on an excellent rating for the answer

Customer:

One last thing, if I find that the pump motor that he is returning on Saturday was not broken, doesn't that push this issue towards fraud?

INFOLAWYER :

If there was an intentional misrepresentation, then yes

INFOLAWYER :

but fraud much harder to show

INFOLAWYER :

given amounts involved, I would not press that theory

Customer:

Ok, thanks for the help.

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