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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 102379
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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I had a company do some work on my home. I signed a contract

Customer Question

I had a company do some work on my home. I signed a contract to pay a certain amount of money. The contract had verbiage regarding what would happen if the amount specified was not paid on time. Again, I agreed and signed. After the work was complete, I received the invoice which was much larger than what was agreed to. No where in the contract does it state that the quote was "tentative" or that " unknown costs would be added later". I paid the amount I agreed to the same day I received the invoice. The company is threatening to place a lien on my home for the amount they added without my approval. (They had a list of items that totaled the original amount. in the end, they change the amount for one of the items without notifying me).
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Ely replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (A) This is general information and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms; and (B) the site allows experts not participate in phone calls and I may or may not be able to participate in this feature.
I am sorry to hear about this situation. Can you please tell me what state this is in?
This is not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Georgia
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Atlanta, Georgia
Expert:  Ely replied 2 years ago.
Thank you.
The issue with estimates is that they are not binding unless they say so. Therefore, the company may charge more in the end.
This of course creates room for abuse.
In such a matter, what someone in your situation may wish to do is to state that the estimate was in bad faith, and that the bill should be lower. The company may disagree. Then, the owner can file a declaratory judgment (see here), asking the Court to REDUCE the bill because (a) it is too much and not conscionable and (b) due to the original bad faith of the estimate. Then it would be up to the Court to decide. However, this may not be practical since it may cost a couple of hundred dollars just to file.
Alternatively, one can do nothing and not pay, but the company may lien the property if they are a contractor and/or sue. IF SO, then the owner can use the above defense to again, ask the Court to lower the amount.
As such, it is a stand off, and one way or another it may end up in court if not resolved. Perhaps threatening litigation and against their state license may get them to back off, fearing repercussion.
I hope this helps and clarifies. Gentle Reminder: Use the SEND or REPLY button to keep chatting, or please rate when finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating. Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces/stars and then SUBMIT, as this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces/stars or failing to submit the rating does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Just to clarify, I was given an estimate after the company performed an initial inspection at my home. After agreeing, I was then provided a contract that stated the price and specifications were absolute and had to be paid within 15 days. So even after that, I still have to pay added costs if they say so?
Expert:  Ely replied 2 years ago.
Well wait a second.
Is the invoice per the contract's terms?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I'm sorry, I don't know what that means? There was a proposal they submitted to me that I agreed to. Two days later, I received a contract confirming what we agreed to. Stating that the price and specification was absolute and the price agreed to had to be paid within 15 days. I paid the price agreed to however they added more cost to the invoice.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Does that make sense or did I answer the question?
Expert:  Ely replied 2 years ago.
It does.
The thing is, it all falls back on the contract.
IF THE CONTRACT ALLOWS to bill MORE than just the price paid, then they can do so.
IF THE CONTRACT WAS FOR A FLAT FEE, then they cannot, even if they take a loss by only having the flat fee paid.
My apologies for the earlier miscommunication. I hope this makes sense.
So, it all depends on the contract's verbiage.
Gentle Reminder: Please, use the REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or rate positively and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.
Expert:  Ely replied 2 years ago.
To me, this seems like a flat fee of $880.00.
Owner may wish to ask the contractor how they can justify an additional invoice after a flat fee per contract was paid. Unless they can somehow justify the additional invoice, it should be withdrawn.
Gentle Reminder: Please, use the REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or rate positively and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks, that's exactly what I asked them do however they refused.
Expert:  Ely replied 2 years ago.
Then we fall back on my original answer - different reason but same conclusion. The owner can ask for a declaratory judgment, asking the Court to VOID that invoice since the contract was a FLAT FEE. Then it would be up to the Court to decide. However, this may not be practical since it may cost a couple of hundred dollars just to file.
Alternatively, one can do nothing and not pay, but the company may lien the property if they are a contractor and/or sue. IF SO, then the owner can use the above defense to again, ask the Court to void the invoice/drop the lien.
Gentle Reminder: Please, use the REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or rate positively and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.