LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jan from Iowa on the line who’s dealing with a contractor that didn’t make good on his promises. How can we help you, Jan?
JAN: I can’t get no money from him. He won’t call me or he won’t answer the phone or nothing. I can’t …
TOM: Let’s start at the beginning, Jan. So, tell us what happened.
JAN: Well, I hired him to fix up my sun deck, to shore it up and everything.
JAN: I had to put stairs on it and everything and it was a little loose different places, you know.
JAN: He took the job and I paid for materials as he got them. And then he fixed it and then everything’s crooked on it. He left a jack there underneath there and it’s supposed to be a pool stair.
TOM: So you got a contractor involved to fix your – up your sun deck. He purchased some materials – or you purchased some materials. He started putting some things together and he basically left it half-done and took off and you haven’t seen him since, right?
JAN: Well, no. He says he’s all done and I paid him. And I had the inspector come out and everything was wrong. The steps are crooked. When you walk down them, you almost fall forward and …
TOM: Alright. Now you’ve paid this guy?
TOM: You’ve paid him for the labor?
JAN: Yes. And I bought the parts.
TOM: So you paid him in full. Why did you pay him in full before the job was done?
JAN: Well, I thought he was done. He said he was all done.
TOM: Right. So, at this point, you’re probably going to have to take him to small-claims court. There’s a dispute about the quality of the work here. Unfortunately, it’s going to have to be sorted out that way.
If he took your money and didn’t do any work, then you could charge him with theft. And that’s very effective, by the way, if you ever find yourself in that situation. If a contractor takes your money and just doesn’t do the work, you can actually file a criminal complaint against him and charge him with theft. But since he did some of the work but he didn’t do it well, now it’s a dispute over the quality of the work. And that’s going to have to be sorted out in a civil suit, unfortunately.
JAN: Yeah. But I haven’t got any proof that I gave him money. I gave him cash.
TOM: Let me give you a suggestion. The next time you want to hire somebody, stop hiring the guys that are walking up and down your street. Get online. Use a site like Angie’s List. Find some good-quality people with some reviews and you won’t have the same issues.
Jan, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.