Lies I Have Heard
August 1, 2007
If you have dealt with contractors, you have probably heard the same lies I have. They erupt from their mouths as rationale for their questionable behavior and unreasonable demands. They are often accompanied by “righteous indignation” that anyone would question this contractor’s forthrightness.
Here, in no particular order of deceitfulness, are four of them.
It’s a standard agreement
Sure it is. It’s your standard agreement that requires the property owner to give away the store and that doesn’t require the contractor to complete the job in a workmanlike manner or, for that matter, even complete it at all. The “standard agreement” does require you to pay, though.
One electrician who did work on a property of a landlord I know had a “standard agreement” that didn’t even require him to clean up his mess or repair the wall he put holes in for the wiring.
Everybody does it that way
I certainly hope they don’t, because if everybody did it that way, buildings would be falling down all over the country. Those are the words you hear when you ask about the corners the contractor cut to get the job done cheaper. Because contractors always “did it that way” we have building codes. Those building codes were not instituted because every contractor was meticulous in his work. They were instituted because of the work that goes along with “everybody does it that way.”
I need the money up front
Then you don’t need to work on my property. You get paid when you are finished and the work is done properly. Not getting paid should not be a problem for a contractor because of contractors’ lien laws, which can result in a lien on the property they worked on if the owner doesn’t pay. If the contractor doesn’t have the money or credit to buy the necessary equipment to do the job, that should raise a crimson flag.
I couldn’t sleep nights if . . .
This is the one that says “Liar, crook and scam artist!” When you hear those words, tell the contractor he has five seconds to leave the property.
A number of years ago I heard those words come out of the mouth of a furnace repairman. The oil furnace didn’t work and the tenants, instead of calling me, opened the Yellow Pages and called the number in the biggest ad. They called me in a panic after he told them the “furnace was shot,” and could blow up. When I arrived he tried to con me with those very words. He couldn’t sleep nights if he didn’t replace this furnace. I told him to leave in none too kind words.
After he left I called Bill, the furnace repairman I always used. He came over, fiddled, messed around and tweaked, then said, “Are you sure you’ve got oil?”
When he measured the oil in the tank, there wasn’t any to measure.
Reputable contractors don’t have “a standard agreement,” they have agreements that can be amended and corrected to fit the job. They don’t necessarily do work the way “everybody” does it, they do it the way that is correct. They also have good credit so don’t require money up front. And “they couldn’t sleep nights” if they did sloppy work or cheated a customer. Lies that both you and I have heard are those that should tell us to send a sleazy contractor on his way and call a reputable company.