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Contractors Pulling A Fast One (On Me)

Dear Readers,

How is everyone? Did you all enjoy the bank holiday weekend? I sure did. “What did I do” you ask? I got another neck strain…! Woohoo! 

Apparently, the chances of getting another (severe) neck strain are quite low, and my doctor was a little uneasy. He said “we’ll call it bad luck for now, but if this happens again in the next 6 months, I’m going to send you for an MRI…”. Well, I don’t care what he says. I’m playing football on Sunday, come hell or high water (my wife permitting of course). 

Yeah. So, I had another visit to the doctor. Another bunch of pills. 

So, now that I move more slowly and more gingerly (just in case), I’m going to talk about Contractors Pulling a fast one. Yup! Contractors pulling a fast one so fast… that it gives you a neck strain. 

(All that build up for that one line – I hope it was worth it). 

(Btw, loosely speaking…  contractor = builder = tradesman).

No Seriously Though, How Come You Wanna Talk About Contractors Pulling A Fast One?

Well, as I was lying in bed with my neck strain, looking again at the ceiling (though note it’s a different ceiling since I moved houses), I remembered a Painter who tried to pull a fast one on me. I thought to myself “that’s what I’m going to talk about in my next post…” and then I fell asleep. 

A fast one that I see quite regularly (mostly while I’m sleeping…)
The Painter (A Story)

Once upon a time, there was a painter, with whom I had done a lot of work. Now, when I say a lot of work, I mean that I had paid this gentleman thousands of pounds. Perhaps maybe even 30k or 40k (lots of painting!). Generally, he has good prices, does reasonable quality work (he’s no Picasso, but good enough for my purposes) and also tries to help me out. If I need something which is a little out of his way, he’ll make an effort to sort me out.  

All in all, a decent guy. 

So What Happened?

On one occasion, I had a bit of an emergency. An empty flat, which was about to be filled (a few days later) had a “little accident”. There was a leak from above, when the flat was empty. So the walls got wet, stayed wet, and then finally dried a while later. We noticed 3 days before the tenants were moving in. We had to sort it out snappish.

I could not go myself to the flat, so I sent someone with the painter, to look at it, so as to get a price. I said to my guy, “the painter’s alright, so whatever price he says, just tell him to get it done”. As a little precaution that I never thought I’d need, I said to the guy, “just record the damage on your mobile for me, just in case…”.

My guy called me, and said the painter wanted £500.  I didn’t think much about it, and I said “yeah ok”. The painter would come the next day and do the work.

Now, I haven’t told you the size of the damage, I haven’t told you the city, I haven’t told you anything that you’d need to work out whether the price was too high or not. But don’t worry about that. I’m telling you, dear Readers, that the price was exorbitant. And… (in this instance at least!), I know what I’m talking about it.

I realised it the night after the work was done. There I was, lying in bed (I do that a lot), when it occurred to me that the painter had not been at the flat for that long…

Money Time!

Now, after the work was done, the painter had to come to me to collect his payment. I had to say something. So, I did some research, checked some previous prices that the same painter had given me (on previous jobs), knowing the prices of the raw materials (essentially the paint), and the amount of time he was at the property, I could prove to the painter himself that he had overcharged me.

I didn’t even need the video my guy had recorded on his phone…! Still though…

“Gimme Ma Money”

…The painter wanted his money. He said “that’s the price we agreed” and he was right. I wasn’t going to lie to him. So I told him that he was right. 

“You’re right.” I said. “I unintentionally agreed with you that you rip me off. Now, I’m asking you, do you want to go ahead and rip me off…?”

To be fair, I knew that he’d try hard to ensure that I did not think that he’d rip me off purposefully. I was a good customer after all. And, as it turned out, his reply was good for me. He said “I admit that I made a miscalculation… I would never intentionally rip you off. We’ve done so much work together…” bla bla bla… bla bla bla… 

(A “miscalculation” no less!)

To cut a long story short, I said “I’ll pay you £300, which I think is more than fair for you…”. He had a bit of a whinge, but I insisted, and he agreed. 

What’s The Lesson Here Then?

Well, there’s many ways to interpret what happened, and what lesson one should take from the above. Why did he try to rip me off like that?

Who knows? Perhaps he needed the money to buy an engagement ring. Maybe it was actually a calculated risk (“if I get caught, I’ll think about how to get out of it”). Maybe it was even a “miscalculation”… 

“You don’t understand… I REALLY needed the money…”

It’s really hard for me to know the back story. From my point of view, the temptation is always to say “the painter’s a ****. I’m never working with him again”. 

(Fill in the asterisks as you see fit).

However, I’m generally against that (not always, but generally!). The truth is that finding a new person to work with, then building a working relationship can take time. I need to find someone who’s got decent prices, who’s easy to reach, who’ll fix things when they go wrong, who knows what they’re doing and who is easy to communicate with. And time is really the one thing I don’t have. 

So, I want to try to build a close relationship with someone, and maintain that for as long as I can, for our mutual benefit. If I’m surrounded by good people, I believe my life (and my end products), will be that much better. The truth is though, that it’s not so easy to do. Still, I try my best to go about things in that manner. I believe that giving someone a second chance, makes it likely that the person will feel closer to you the next time.

Am I being a bit naive? Many people would say so. However, I believe that this mentality does pay off in the long term, even if you do have to sustain some short term losses. 

So What’s The Lesson Learned Then?

Well, I think, the lesson is that you, as the person ultimately responsible for your own money, must always be careful (not just of contractors pulling a fast one). As I already said, I try to trust people as much as I can, and this kind of thing has happened to me a few times (painters, plumbers, electricians…).

For me, the important thing is to call it out when it happens, to let the contractor know that you’re paying attention. If it happens more than once, then you know it’s probably time to look for someone else. If like me, you’re short on time, you can use a site like MyBuilder or myjobquote. They’re not perfect sites, but certainly much better than just using a business directory…


Well, from the story above, if you believe it, I still work with the painter! Do I keep a close eye on him? I do. Indeed, I must, not just on him, but on all contractors/builders/tradesmen. 

How about you dear Readers? Have you had experiences with contractors pulling a fast one? If yes, how would you best describe the person you dealt with? What he/she a **** or a ****? Do let me know dear Readers…!

The post Contractors Pulling A Fast One (On Me) appeared first on PROPERTY STORIES.

This post first appeared on Property Stories, please read the originial post: here

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Contractors Pulling A Fast One (On Me)


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