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LegalGems
LegalGems, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 3299
Experience:  Research Attorney; Private Practice; Attorney Mentor; Mediator
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I paid $1000 to have a website built for my Dachshund Rescue.

Resolved Question:

I paid $1000 to have a website built for my Dachshund Rescue. I wrote the check in February 2013. To date, the website is unfinished and a total mess. They say I signed a contract and there are no refunds. But they have broken their end of the bargain by not providing with the product I paid for. It's been a nightmare of horrible quality workmanship, no responses, even when I've provided them with everything they asked for in writing. I plan to file a complaint with the BBB. Possibly contacting the Consumer Fraud Dept. Do I have any chance of getting my money back? I don't have the time or energy any longer to deal with the frustration they have put me through for 6 months. I do not want others to go through what they have put me through.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  LegalGems replied 1 year ago.

LegalGems :

Hi! LegalGems here. My goal: To Do My Best To Assist You. Please remember, I can only provide general information,as this is a public forum. I am sorry to hear of this - sounds quite frustrating. The design company's argument that there are no refunds is not generally a valid defense to a breach of contract action. Since they say you signed a contract, you should request a copy of it. Check to see if there are any terms and conditions regarding when the site is supposed to be completed. If there are terms and they are in violation of it, this would be a breach of contract, and misrepresentation. If there are no terms, then it would depend on what a reasonable person would consider a reasonable time frame. I would think 6 months is excessive. Generally companies (legitimate companies) will attempt to resolve in good faith any disputes, especially those initiated through the BBB due to their paper mediation and the subsequent rating. What company is the potential defendant in?

LegalGems :

Were you able to see my post? If you could provide the state of the defendant that would be great! Thanks.

Customer:

I'm looking at my contract. The company is based out of St. Louis, MO.I can't even find a name of the company on the contract except B2C It does state that Completion of date of Project B2C and the Client must work together to complete any Project in a timely manner. Believe me, we have put forth more effort than we think necessary. We have listed all the changes and corrections in writing as requested. Weeks go by and when I finally ask them if there are any updates, what they show me is not what I requested, not to mention the quality and unprofessional look of the website.

LegalGems :

Timely manner would work in your favor, as any ambiguities are resolved AGAINST the drafter. Let me look into a few things.

Customer:

Thank you

LegalGems :

You are welcome! State's vary on suing out of state businesses in small claims; but in California as long as the business has substantial contacts with California so that it is in their jurisdiction ('long arm jurisdiction') then it is permitted. This is a simplified process and is rather easy to undertake.http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-smallclaims.htm You can also file a complaint with the FTC - while this won't personally help you, if enough people file complaints, the FTC will investigate for wrongdoing and possibly shut down the business. https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

LegalGems :

Sometimes a demand letter outlining the legal action you plan to take (filing suit) will result in the company honoring the terms of the contract or refunding the money.

Customer:

Would I be able to get an attorney to draft a demand letter for me for a small fee?

LegalGems :

We aren't allowed to draft letters here as that constitutes an attorney client relationship. But I can get you a copy of a demand letter to use as a sample - I will need to find one that is noncopyrighted so it may take some time. Another option is for you to google "demand letter breach of contract" and there should be alot of them available on the internet. Then again, you can hire a limited scope representation attorney in your state solely to draft the demand letter (versus full representation) but they generally charge $100-$200 for something you can find on the internet and modify to fit your situation. You want to give a precise statement of facts, a proposed resolution, followed by a drop dead date which indicates when you will pursue your legal alternatives should a satisfactory resolution not be forthcoming

LegalGems :

I found a sample letter - it is for a bad check, but you can change the language for breach of contract, along with a statement of facts. In lieu of the closing statement stating that the matter will be referred for prosecution, you can state that you intend to file a breach of contract complaint. http://www.co.comal.tx.us/CDA/Forms/EXAMPLE%20DEMAND%20LETTER.pdf

Customer:

I have spoken to the supervisor several times. He says he will follow up and make sure things are done. Months go by and nothing. I spoke to an attorney friend who does not practice in CA and she said to look under legal aid/legal services in the phone book. File a complaint with the BBB and contact the Consumer Fraud Department in the CA State Attorney's office. I don't even mind paying $100 if I can find someone who would prepare the letter. I really just want out of this and nothing more to do with this company since you can't believe anything they tell you. Based on what I've seen so far, even if they completed the website, it would not be to my satisfaction. They don't even fix typos. I want to make sure anyone looking for a website to be built does not use this company. And it would be nice to get at least part of my money back. I also intend to notify the business that referred me to this company.I will check into the websites you gave me.

LegalGems :

The letter is for template purposes only; It was the only non copyrighted one I could find.

LegalGems :

It is my experience that the Attorney general is less inclined to pursue out of state defendants; unless they have received alot of complaints from its residents. But it is definitely worth a try, as the form is not time consuming.http://oag.ca.gov/contact/consumer-complaint-against-business-or-company

LegalGems :

There are 2 types of breaches; material and immaterial. Material goes to the heart of the matter so to speak and the requested relief is rescission (voiding) the contract so that plaintiff is restored to the position s/he would have been in but for the contract (so money returned).

Customer:

Thank you. I will download that and work with it. Maybe I can get some help also from the legal aid department for a minimal fee. This all takes time away from my dog rescue which this website was supposed to help. Rescue is very stressful in itself. This whole experience has done nothing but add to the stress. OK I downloaded that too. I just want them to know I'm not going to roll over on this. Who takes 6 months to build a website and not even finish it?

LegalGems :

Yes under those circumstances you could have saved the money and the aggravation and learned how to build it yourself in less than 6 months - especially with all those online $5/month hosting companies you see nowadays. So I understand your frustration. California has a lot of legal aid - just a moment please.

LegalGems :

Here's some of them - they appear to be low income but they may know of others (ie. law school clinics) that aren't - http://www.caforjustice.org/about/organizations . Another good resource is the small business administration - http://www.sba.gov/content/small-business-development-centers-sbdcs - services vary by location.

Customer:

OK I will look into these. What a waste of time when I could be doing something more productive.

Customer:

Thank you.

LegalGems :

Yes; I agree with you. It is unfortunate, and a Huge waste of time. That's what is the most frustrating. (at least in my opinion!)- but if you don't do anything, that's even more frustrating. So either way, you are between a rock and hard place, unfortunately.

Customer:

Well I will pursue as many of these things as I can. In the meantime my friend will look into other options for updating my current website which is all this company was asked to do. I will definitely send the demand letter, file with the BBB, put something on YELP, and see if I can find some inexpensive legal aid.

LegalGems :

Sounds good - good luck on this. And don't forget to check with the SBA - some of the locations have great services, including website design assistance, mentors, etc.

LegalGems :

*but for the web design assistance, I don't know if you have to know the basics; I just know a colleague of mine was pretty proficient in computers and she met with someone at the SBA and they walked her through her difficulties.

Customer:

What's the SBA? The reason I went with this company is because they specialize in animal websites and were referred by PET EXPOS USA. I'm not sure if it's a sister company. But I definitely intend to let them know the next time they e-mail me about any EXPOS.

Customer:

This website was supposed to be super easy to maintain. How could it be easy to maintain when they can't even build it?

LegalGems :

The small business association- check out my 6:31 post - there are links to it there. It's a great non profit that helps small businesses.

LegalGems :

We cross posted- did you see my post?

LegalGems :

here you go - I'll repaste it: Another good resource is the small business administration - http://www.sba.gov/content/small-business-development-centers-sbdcs - services vary by location.

Customer:

Yes, I actually downloaded that site and printed it. I just didn't read what it was about. Thanks.

LegalGems :

You are welcome - I hope you are in an area where they offer more extensive services.

Customer:

I'm in the desert about an hour from LA. So if I can't find help locally, I'm sure I can find it in Los Angeles.

LegalGems :

Oh, that's perfect. We aren't allowed to give specific referrals but if you decide to hire an attorney, google unbundled legal services, or limited scope representation; in that area I am sure you will find many attorneys who offer these services online for a reasonable price if the legalaid does not pan out.

Customer:

OK will do. Thank you very much. It's a start for what I can do in my spare time, of which I have none. :-(

LegalGems :

You are welcome. I hope you resolve this with minimal time from here on out. But enjoy your enterprise- I bet it is very fulfilling, and as an animal lover (corgie!) thank you!

Customer:

I have doxies. Love the short legged dogs.

LegalGems, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 3299
Experience: Research Attorney; Private Practice; Attorney Mentor; Mediator
LegalGems and 2 other Consumer Protection Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  LegalGems replied 1 year ago.
I wanted to be sure and thank you for using JA/Pearl.

I hope you found the information I provided useful. More importantly, I hope the Attorney General or the FTC is responsive to the issue and use public funds to address this, as at $1K a pop, that's alot of money for nothing.

If you would like to request me for your future legal inquires, please put TO LEGAL GEMS in front of the question, and I will do my best!
Take care.

Please be sure and complete the customer satisfaction survey the site will be sending you so that I can continue to provide affordable information to our customers. Thank you!

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