Feeling Hosed

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

This may sound like small potatoes to you but it could end up costing
me several hundred dollars. I bought a house last year. About a month
later some people showed up to work on the sprinkler system, saying
they’d had the contract for the house for years. I asked them to not do
the work until I had called for bids. I ended up using a different
contractor who did the work and winterized it. Today I came home and
the original contractor’s crew was there doing work, work that I had
not requested. When I asked what they were doing they said they had
a work order for but could not produce. I asked them to leave, even
though they said they’d found a problem when they turned it on and
that they were trying to fix it. Sure enough, the system doesn’t work
properly now. Each contractor is blaming the other and refusing to
work for free to fix it. Am I stuck? And how do I choose between

Feeling Hosed

Dear Hosed:

The contractor whose employees keep coming back uninvited seems a
little more suspect, though if you tested the system before you bought
and it worked, it may in fact be that they’re actually better at what
they do. I can understand the second contractor’s reluctance to take
responsibility for a job where other hands have disturbed how it was
left. So, yes you may in fact be stuck paying someone to fix your
water lines.

Ideally I’d call contractor number three and ask for an estimate to fix
your system. When you have a bid, ask each of the other two what
they would charge, in the latter cases, asking for a discount given the
history. Also ask for references from each of them, though sadly
anyone can pretend to be anyone on the phone or email so references
unless they come from someone you know and trust aren’t always that
valuable. Ultimately you’re going to have to make the choice to work
with whichever one you feel most comfortable with, unless your
neighbors can vouch for and recommend someone. The punch line is,
Get out your wallet.