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A large greenhouse (36 mtrs x 10 mtrs) was recovered last year

after it had torn in...
A large greenhouse (36 mtrs x 10 mtrs) was recovered last year after it had torn in 2011. The company gave a quote in Dec 2011 and when order was placed in Feb 12 said they had to update materials cost. Final quote was received in June and paid (@$4,500) for materials and as a deposit. Took 4 months to get company to install. Long story short -- crappy job installing, bad product requiring extra trips from Melb to Canb to try and fix. Billed me for labour for $6,500 - $1,000 more than original quote for labour $5,600. Queried bill. Asked for breakdown. Bill came back as $8,500 with breakdown grossly inflated and with false information on number of staff, hours worked, etc. Refused to pay and they took it to a credit collect company. After back and forth they offered that I just pay the original labour bill of $5,600 -- yet this was also more than the work actually done. I stated I would pay the actual amount of labour -- which was $4000. They are now threatening legal on me and want payment for $7,900. I am unwilling as it is extortion. What are my rights as a customer? The only quote ever given in writing for labour was $5,600 and it states it is based on hours worked, etc.
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Answered in 7 hours by:
5/18/2013
Brisbane-Lawyer
Brisbane-Lawyer, Solicitor - Admitted 2005
Category: Australia Law
Satisfied Customers: 14,361
Experience: I did my law degree at the University of Queensland
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What are my rights as a customer? The only quote ever given in writing for labour was $5,600 and it states it is based on hours worked, etc. Well, the collection agency cannot force you to pay. So if you refuse to pay the excess amount above the written quote you were given, they will have to take you to Court if they want their money. Before it goes to trial though, the Court will require a mediation where this could be sorted out. In the meantime, however, your best bet is to have a solicitor send them a letter offering them an amount (perhaps the original quote price) in full and final settlement of this matter, and letting them know that if they refuse, then they will have to sue you and he will be defending you if that happens. When they see this on a lawyer's letterhead they will realize that you mean business, and should then begin to take the matter seriously and agree to a settlement amount. If not, however, then you will have to let them take you to Court over this. And if they do that, they are likely to get the amount they quoted you (possibly more if they can convince a judge that they had to do extra labour for whatever reason). Obviously you would need a lawyer to assist with this, but depending on where in New South Wales you reside I may be able to recommend a good solicitor who could help. Just let me know if you're interested. If you're satisfied with the results of your question, then I'll ask you to please provide positive feedback so that I will get credit for the time spent on your question.
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago
Thank you Alex. This makes sense. In this particular circumstance there was a quote given at the end of 2010 that was not accepted. I wanted to place an order in early 2012 and repeatedly asked for a current quote. I finally received a quote just for material -- which I agreed to and paid immediately. I never received a quote for the labour, despite asking for it repeatedly prior to the job. Then months later, when the poor job was completed, I was given several different invoices (all with different amounts) as detailed above.
If there is no actual agreement, no signature, no email or even any phone calls finalising the labour component - does that work in my favour, as the disgruntled consumer -- or to the benefit of the construction company - who have kept poor records and turned out a crappy product?
It does work in your favour to some extent as it makes it harder for them to show the Court that there was an agreement on those prices. But that said, the Court will likely try to give them something reasonable for their labour in assembling the greenhouse. So it isn't as though you are getting a windfall here. Ultimately, you are going to have to pay them something.

If you're satisfied with the results of your question, then I'll ask you to please provide positive feedback so that I will get credit for the time spent on your question. Your question can continue even after you leave positive feedback, so if you have any follow up questions please don't be afraid to ask.
Brisbane-Lawyer
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Category: Australia Law
Satisfied Customers: 14,361
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