Contractor Fired, Now Attempting to Overcharge - Need Advice

7 Replies

I hired a tile guy to tile a bathroom (floor and shower walls) and to handle a few small jobs on the side. Things were going well until a couple weeks ago, when I'd given him $140 to buy supplies, and not only did he not buy the supplies, but this is where his worked slowed to a stop. That weekend, I got a drunken phone call from the tile guy (who'd clearly fallen off the wagon), cursing me out because, in my absence, one of my lesser-skilled laborers had put a miter saw on top of the stove and to make cuts, getting sawdust on and inside the stove (stupid, I know). After an intense phone yelling, the tile guy hung up and refused to answer my calls. 

He also left a message on the trash bin, threatening to dump it's 300lbs of trash all over my yard if I didn't empty it by Monday afternoon. This is a trip, because the trash bin was mine. I'm guessing he thought it was his...

After taking his behavior into account - his lack of work in the last week or so, and his threats and bullying, I fired him last week. Well, I got his bill yesterday and it is extremely high, with a false accounting of his hours worked (on the side jobs I'd had him do) that is laughably inflated (3 hours to inspect a kitchen faucet for leaks! This is an amazing claim, as I was standing there the whole 5 minutes he inspected the faucet!) He also charged 4 hours to reattach the handle on the stove - this literally took him 20 minutes. What the heck?! 

To top it off, he's also attempting to charge me for a job he'd abandoned last year - as well as attempting to double charge me for a job I paid him for 10 months ago! The job he abandoned: I hired him to do a drop ceiling and a tile landing last winter and he left the job half way through, never finishing the ceiling and never starting the landing. He mysteriously left one day and wouldn't return my calls for months. This was 10 months ago. I realize my first mistake was hiring him again, but I was in a hurry and he was the only tile guy I knew at the time. I profoundly regret hiring him again. 

How do I handle this situation? What are my options? There was no contract between us for this work. Do I have to pay full price for the abandoned job - which I had to pay someone else to finish, and which cost me money due to messing up my time table to have a renter in the finished unit? I don't want to pay the full asking amount on this recent job because I know his charges are dishonest and severely inflated. I learned too late that he's not an honest dude - I looked up his criminal rap sheet this morning and it's as long as your arm. He's also lost a slew of civil cases! (Another lesson learned - vet your workers!). 

I'm a fair guy and I gladly pay for services rendered, but I won't be taken advantage of. Any advice is greatly appreciated! 

* Forgot to mention that tile guy threatened to turn me into my insurance agent (whose wife I've known since childhood) for the saw on top of the stove. Just to be safe, I scrapped the stove (which was used anyhow and ready to be replaced). 

@Lee Miles   It comes down to how much are you willing to stand up for what you believe is right. Sometimes it can be very expensive to win. And it can be very humiliating to give in to such extortion. 

Maybe send him a check with a memo comment of "final payment of amount due" and on the back something like "cashing this check is acceptance of this amount as full and final payment for all services rendered". Make it for less than he asks, but maybe a little more than you think you owe. If he is having problems he will probably cash it. That does not 100% cover you, but it would sure put the balance in your favor.

I agree with @Walt Payne  . You could do that but there is no guarantee he won't try to come back after you for more money. It also depends on how much the total is, if its less than a certain amount small claims court may be an option.... not a good one but an option. The bright side to that is I bet he wouldn't show!

Another thought my be just to not pay him. Send him a letter saying you have paid for more work that what has been completed and agreed upon (verbally) ( and send with the letter a copy of times you were with him and when you saw him working, the $140 you gave him for materials, etc), so as of right now you don't owe him unless the work is done. This may cause two things tho, one he may dump more trash at your house at night or something worse, two, he may want to come back and finish the job..... talk about awkward.

Originally posted by @Cole Walker:

I agree with @Walt Payne . You could do that but there is no guarantee he won't try to come back after you for more money. It also depends on how much the total is, if its less than a certain amount small claims court may be an option.... not a good one but an option. The bright side to that is I bet he wouldn't show!

Another thought my be just to not pay him. Send him a letter saying you have paid for more work that what has been completed and agreed upon (verbally) ( and send with the letter a copy of times you were with him and when you saw him working, the $140 you gave him for materials, etc), so as of right now you don't owe him unless the work is done. This may cause two things tho, one he may dump more trash at your house at night or something worse, two, he may want to come back and finish the job..... talk about awkward.

Or he might file a mechanics lien, depending on how knowledgeable and or vindictive he is.

I guess you were looking for cheap work, and now it could cost you. You should have paid more and got someone who is license and have insurance, and also you should have an agreement in writing.


Joe Gore

Did he send you the bill in the mail ?  If so , that I  believe is some type of fraud with federal crime.  Sounds like the guy is too dumb to file a mechanics lien. But i would watch my back , sounds like he gets his courage 12 ounces at a time .

Some states you have up to two years to file a mechanic's lien, and I just got up of the floor from laughing about it could be a federal crime for sending a bill through the mail I wonder what guru was teaching that.


Joe Gore