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Ask Legalease Your Own Question
Legalease, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 16367
Experience:  13 years experience in RE Law, including LL/Tenant, contractor disputes, comm'l prop. issues
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I bought a water softener system but the system malfunctioned

Customer Question

I bought a water softener system but the system malfunctioned and released small carbon pieces which plugged up my kitchen faucet. I was very angry and called the collection agency and must have told them that I was not going to pay for the system unless they fixed the problem, however I kept paying my monthly bill but they put my house on lean (unknown to me) because they said I threatened not to pay even though I kept paying and did not miss any payment that was due. At the same time I put my house for sale on the market. When I sold the house I could not close because of the lean so I paid them off one year and about a month later.
My contract to payoff this water system states: one year interest free option which I used. The salesperson who quit the company told me that I have one year to pay off the system and after that I have to pay interest. I understood this to mean that one year was interest free and there after I would have to pay interest. Now since I paid them off a few days after the year, they charged me interest for the free year that was supposed to be interest free. They said that the one year interest free was interest free if I paid the system within the year of the sale. This is a complete surprise because it is a change in the contract. I didn't understand this because I thought I had one year interest free as stated in the contract. They said that this was explained to me (which I don’t remember) during one of our conversations on the phone with this company. The way I understand it is that I have one year interest free and if I didn't pay within that year the interest will begin after the interest free year. I also feel that if the contract changed significant meaning they should state this in the contract and not to discuss the meaning of the contract on the phone.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
(Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call. Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.
Expert:  Legalease replied 2 years ago.
Hello there --
To sum up your issues and problems with this water softening company -- I will address each separately as follows:
(A) QUESTIONs: The lien on your house and the collections agency action even though your payments were not technically behind.
--ANSWER: (a) It does not matter whether or not you miss a payment on an installment contract when it comes to the mechanic's lien laws -- You see, because the company you were threatening with non payment was/is an affiliate of the company that installed the water system or supplied the water system to you , that company was permitted to file a mechanic's lien / material supplier's lien on the house / property where they did the work or their material was installed into the project. So, filing the lien in response to your threats was probably a knee-jerk reaction on the part of the company because the contractor or material supplier only has a limited window of time to file such a lien on a house and property (usually 60-180 days after they were last at the property is the cutoff date for the contractor or material supplier to file a mechanic's lien against the property). So, the company made the filing anyway and it was legally permissible for them to do so. (b) There are no laws to prevent the company from reporting this account to a third party collection agency to make the collections for them -- while it is industry practice to usually wait about 30 days, the company does not have to do so if they feel like sending the account over to the collection agency.
(B) INTEREST FREE ISSUES: To be perfectly frank with you here, every "interest free" loan offer that I have ever seen operates just as the company you are dealing with says that it does: you enter into the contract and your part of the bargain / contract is to keep making payments each month on time during the "interest free" period and if the loan is paid off in full by you on its schedule, then the company will credit you back with the interest payments either made or suspended for that year. However, if you fail to meet the interest terms and conditions in the contract and do not pay off the principal balance before the year is up (usually it is one year). HOWEVER, if the contract does not specifically state that you will be responsible for ALL of the interest charges from the beginning of the loan if you fail to pay it off by the "due date" then you may very well have a viable argument against the company for fraud or misrepresentation and breach of contract.
My suggestion for you at this point is to read your contract carefully - especially if there is a separate page for the financing of the contract work and see if the language regarding the customer will lose the benefit of the "no interest" for a year incentive IF the customer fails to pay off the loan by XXXXXX time as required by the contract language. If that language is in the contract then you are operating at a disadvantage at this point in wanting to challenge the company for their position regarding the 'interest free" period -- BUT you could still challenge them on it if the language is there but it will be more difficult to show a small claims court or regular court that the Company was wrong here in the breach of contract suit -- the only way you could probably have a successful challenge of the contract language on the "interest free" points/ requirements is if that language was set away from the general contract language regarding the overall program and requirements for that program OR that language was deliberately set out in smaller print / typeface to make it harder for consumers like you to read the language about the "interest free' being cancelled if you do not complete the contract on time.
I DID see your request for a telephone call after I got about one half through typing this ANSWER to you -- generally the way I conduct phone sessions is that I will answer the question FIRST here in the regular Question and Answer thread box and see if You understand everything or if you have more questions and you simply want to ask any follow up questions in a response box rather than do a telephone call. THE REASON I APPROACH TELEPHONE CONVERSATION REQUESTS IN THIS MANNER IS BECAUSE THERE IS AN ADDITIONAL CHARGE FOR TELEPHONE CONVERSATIONS (IN ADDITION TO THE PRICE FOR THIS QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION) tHE PRICE IS CURRENTLY 45 DOLLARS PER 15 MINS OF TELEPHONE TIME .
So, please either ask follow up questions in the response box if you do not want to go to a telephone call at this time. OR if you have no furthe questions please press a positive rating under this ANSWER box so I will be paid for my time. I am paid NOTHING unless you press a positive rating under the ANSWER box so I DO APPRECIATE IT !!