The Drama Of The Wardrobe

Discussion in 'Home Improvement' started by Julie Stewart, May 30, 2016.

  1. Julie Stewart

    Julie Stewart Well-Known Member
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    We decided to get a large built-in wardrobe for the spare room and we worked out that we could pay for a hand-made purpose-built piece. We found a local craftsman and agreed to pay half up front so that he could buy the materials we had specified.

    We didn't hear from him as expected within 3 weeks and at the end of the 4th week we called him. A lady answered and when Dany asked for the carpenter by name she told him that her husband had died suddenly from a heart attack 10 days earlier. He was only 42.

    She asked if there was any work outstanding and we explained that the work hadn't started but 800€ (about 890$) had been paid. She said that she would let the accountant know and things would be sorted out.

    We heard nothing. Eventually, we called again, left messages, sent registered letters. It was difficult to proceed because a young man had died leaving his wife and 2 young children. But we can't afford to lose 800 euros

    We then realized than we have an insurance policy that might cover such "out of the blue" events. The insurance agency said that it does and they are now handling the matter.

    This is a relief as you can imagine.
     
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  2. Babs Hunt

    Babs Hunt Veteran Member
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    That's good news about your insurance company taking care of this matter, and very sad news for this family of this man who died so suddenly and so young.
     
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  3. K E Gordon

    K E Gordon Very Well-Known Member
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    Wow, that must have been shock. I had a friend who was having some work done on her home, and the man who started the task ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. It was weeks before he could start working again. She was beginning to wonder if she would ever have the project completed. However, I am pretty sure that he did indeed eventually complete the project. I am glad you will be able to get your money back.
     
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  4. Julie Stewart

    Julie Stewart Well-Known Member
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    It was a shock - and difficult to know how to handle the situation. On the one hand we had a business contract that needed resolving - and on the other a delicate situation in which we felt a lot of sympathy. In a weird way it helped that neither the family or the people working to close the financial affairs of the deceased replied to our calls and letters over a period of 3 months. It kind of hardened us to the reality of the situation fro our own perspective.
     
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  5. Krissttina Isobe

    Krissttina Isobe Very Well-Known Member
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    I'm so glad that the situation is being resolved and now your closet is nearer to being built. What a discovery though the builder had a heart attack! One concern though, businesses with ongoing contracts, should have been contacted with a referral to get the contract fulfilled...why hadn't you gotten a call about it and a referral given to you?
     
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  6. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    Pleased to hear you can get this sorted now Julie :)
     
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  7. Julie Stewart

    Julie Stewart Well-Known Member
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    This is France! I love it, I choose to live here over anywhere else .... partly because I like the more relaxed ambiance in all walks of life, including how business is transacted. Once you get used to this huge cultural difference it is very pleasant. It was our fault that we failed to realize that our insurance covered us.
     
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  8. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    That is fortunate that your insurance covered everything for you, @Julie Stewart . If the man had already used the money to buy the materials, then there might not have been any money to refund to you at the time that he died.
    I can understand that the wife and family were grieving the loss of the husband and struggling to survive; but I can see no reason why the accountant didn't return calls to you, since he would not have been overcome by grief.

    I had a similar thing happen to me years ago. After my parents died (both within a month), I moved into their house (the house I had grown up in), and started the process of going through all of their belongings and cleaning up the house.
    I was also recently divorced, and wanted to pick up the pieces of my life again, and decided that that old house was the best place for me to do that.
    The roof leaked, and I hired the brother of a long-time friend to do the job. He had it almost finished when hunting season started.
    Like you, I had paid him half the money down so he could get materials, and he asked me to pay him the rest before he went hunting, and he would finish up the roof as soon as hunting season was over and he was back again.
    Well, of course, once he had the money, he had one excuse after another why he couldn't come back and finish the last part of the roof, ending up with the statement that it had cost him more for supplies than he expected; so he really hadn't made any money, and he was done wih what he was going to do.
    Since he was the brother of a dear friend; I didn't want to press the issue, and ended up hiring someone else to come and finish up the roof for me.
    But it was a valuable lesson learned about paying the money before the work is done. .
     
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    Last edited: Jun 1, 2016
  9. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    @Yvonne Smith - rotten story
    Its true, never pay the balance till the work is done
     
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  10. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
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    That's great that the situation was covered under your insurance. I probably never would have thought to look into that. It's also good to know that he wasn't just a scammer who absconded with your funds. I wonder if the accountant was actually part of the family and actually was trying to cope with his loss as well. Those types of businesses often are family affairs, unless they're huge corporations.
     
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  11. Julie Stewart

    Julie Stewart Well-Known Member
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    @Yvonne Smith - that really is a rotten story as Patsy said. I guess another lesson learned here is to not employ people with whom we have a personal connection.

    As for the accountant in our situation - I'm not sure, but I've a feeling he is somebody that the family have been advised to employ since Monsieur D's death in order to close down the business. Monsieur D was a real craftsman, his work was beautiful - even wardrobes had his delicate touches that made them special. But it was just him working alone and I think he and/or his wife did the accounts.

    @Patsy Faye - we've since learned that is isn't legal to ask for any amount up front for any sort of work here in France. Having said that, we might still have agreed to paying for materials up front as he was such a small enterprise and we really wanted his artistic touch on the woodwork.

    @Diane Lane - yes, we're lucky with the insurance thing. I don't know what it would be called in the US/UK - here it's called "Assurance de Dommages" = Damage Insurance, and it's taken out for a named person or persons. If they damage something accidentally this insurance covers it. For example, my daughter was in a restaurant and a member of her party tilted back in their chair and ended up smashing a huge plate glass window. They were unhurt (luckily) and their assurance de dommages covered all the costs. What we didn't realize is that it also covers non-physical damages, as in our case. If Monsieur D had spent our money on materials that we cannot use (and we can't) - our insurance will reimburse us the full amount.

    We're just waiting to see if he had actually purchased the materials. If he didn't then the accountant will organize re-payment from the estate. Whichever way it works we'll get our money back.
     
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  12. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    @Julie Stewart - yes sometimes its reasonable to pay up front for the materials
    Its always a nervous time which I'm sure none of us relish - till the work is done and they are gone
     
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  13. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    Double post :oops:
     
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  14. Krissttina Isobe

    Krissttina Isobe Very Well-Known Member
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    :eek::rolleyes:I see, France sounds so nice to live..well learned something too...France sounds so nicely different.
     
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  15. Corie Henson

    Corie Henson Very Well-Known Member
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    Oh, what a sad story for a young carpenter to die. I agree that 800 Euro is big money that you cannot just let it pass like that. Besides, you don't really know the carpenter so it's a big amount for a contribution. Let's hope that the insurance would pay for that missing 800 Euro.

    When we have house repairs, we have learned a lesson in getting into work contracts. There was a time that we were kind of shortchanged because the contractor seemed to be remiss on his part of the bargain. We had paid more than $5,000 as down payment and the contractor was again asking money even if the work done was not even 1/4 of the job. Sensing that we are being scammed, we stopped work and rescinded the contract. And then we hired workers who were willing to be paid on a daily basis. From then on, that is our scheme of work contract - daily basis. At least there will be no problem regarding money advanced to the worker.

    PS. Right now we are in search for a good craftsman to work on 7 repairs - bedroom door knob, kitchen sink closet door, garden balusters, septic tank, grotto, broken living room ceiling and lastly the blinking light bulb in the kitchen.
     
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  16. Sandy Wood

    Sandy Wood Active Member
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    I am so glad things are working out for you in regards to the money you paid up front for your project. My mother and a few other people in our town had a similar thing happen to them. My mom found a local well respected man to fix her roof. He ask for money to buy the supplies, and knowing him she gave him a check for around $1000 dollars. He never came back in fact he skipped town and went to Florida, on everyone's money. She never got any money back and it took the police two years to track him down.
    I think the best thing to do is get the list of supplies and make a deal with the store concerning buying the supplies and having them brought to your place. Don't pay up front to the contractor. Even recently I heard of a couple of stories about contractors doing a bad job or never finishing work after being paid. It is a big heartache dealing with poor work or no work, but loss of money can be devastating.
     
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  17. Julie Stewart

    Julie Stewart Well-Known Member
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    HI @Sandy Wood - so sorry to hear about what happened to you mum. It seems that the man had carefully built a good reputation, so that he was well respected, in order to scam a lot of people who trusted him based on his reputation - what a b*****d !!!!

    As for our situation - our insurance has taken this case on board with the solicitor who is closing down the deceased's business. We will get our money back eventually, meanwhile we are still without a wardrobe in our second bedroom, which is fine, until we have guests to stay!!!!!
     
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