Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I feel ripped off by a contractor. For years I’ve been wanting to retile
my kitchen. I spent a lot of time picking the product and worked with
the sales person at a high-end store to identify people who were good.
Of the three she recommended (him number one) I liked him the best,
even though his bid was a hundred dollars more than the lowest. I had
confidence in him; his schedule worked well with mine and he seemed
prompt and reliable. Because of the product I chose it has an informal
look (beach tiles in multi hues). But some of the pieces were clearly
deformed and of course ended up right where my eye falls naturally
near my toaster and coffee-maker. I feel he should not have used
them, as he left me with a full extra sheet. He also charged me $100
for shipping that hadn’t been on his original bid. The irony is that he
did the work six weeks after we ordered the product so clearly there
was no need for the extra shipping cost, but since I wanted him to
come back and fix the flaws, as he said he would, I paid it. Ten weeks
later has not responded to my voicemail or email, so I’m just feeling
especially angry. Do I have any redress?


Dear Aggravated:

Continue to haunt him, though there’s no guarantee that if he does the
work over, he’ll do it any better than he did it the first time. Send a
written complaint to the store about his lack of responsiveness. Be
very explicit about your attempts to call and contact him. You might
talk first to the sales person who helped you and who recommended
him. Say how disappointed you were, how ripped off you feel, and that
you feel that it is inappropriate for you to have had to pay more
money for shipping. Say you think this reflects on the store as well
and that unless she can get you satisfaction by having him at least
replace to your satisfaction you’ll be passing a negative review onto
Yelp and your friends about him and the store.


In future, when dealing with any kind of contractor, be very explicit
about the difference between an estimate, a bid, and a contract. If the
price document includes “not to exceed $xyz without signed written
consent of both parties” you have some greater protection. In this
case you got held hostage and it’s harder to play catch-up.