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What's Fair & Reasonable4/13/15
Just looking for some opinions on this one:
Customer orders counters for the laundry room. We go to install, the installer calls that the largest top is to short. I had miss measured one wall by 6" in length. (Don't ask me how, I have no idea!) I reorder the materials to make the replacement. I get to the office the next morning and there is an email saying she really doesn't like the color and wants all different color tops. The replacement material shows up that afternoon. We wait a week, she finally emails the new color. We remake all the tops with the new color and install. Give the bill for both sets of tops and she says "why isn't there a credit for the one that was made the wrong size?"
I'm not above giving a credit, but it was our mistake on the original top, and had we finished making it, would have expected to be paid full price for the project. Do I just credit the whole top once? Credit minus the restocking fee? Just credit the materials cost?
How would you handle this?
I would just tell her that you had already ordered the replacement when she notified you of the change and she is liable for both complete sets.
I agree. tell her that in the interest of good service you wanted to correct your mistake asap and even though it was only a day, the top had been ordered and started when she contacted you. If that does not fly try to work a 50/50 split to keep a happy client.
When you received the email that said she didn't care for the laminate color , you should have let her know then if she would have to pay more . Any changes made to a contract , by either the customer or the contractor should be noted right away . At that point it doesn't matter to you if they pick another color , unless there are several sections and the others are all ok .
I'd charge her for both sets of counters, less the labor to remake the errored top.
To me that would see fair from both sides.
Seems to me like the problem is two-fold.
1. you measuring it wrong--the replacement is on your bill.
2. Her changing her mind is independant of the measurement error, and that needs to be on her bill.
Your error did not cause a change in her timeline as she's the one that changed her mind after the fact. She may be jumping on a spotted mistake to bottom dog you a bit, to save money (normal human).
As long as you didn't bill her for the one error-replacement, you are good.
But that said, you still have relationships to maintain--what about discounting her half of your mark-up on the replacement (while charging her full price for the initial order, and eating the 1st replacement due to measurment)?
A money talk like yours should never happen. That should have been figured out before the new color tops were ordered. But now you have to enter into a negotiation so both of you are happy. Not going to be easy.
if the new color could have been ordered before the replacement top was ordered, you should have not charged the client. Shame on you for trying to get someone else to pay for your mistake.
There should not even be a discussion of this charge. The first countertop was made with the wrong numbers and is your problem. If the second countertop can be changed before production begins , the customer should be charged only for the one top. We have an ethics problem when so many contractors think the can place the cost of the error on the customer. You were hired because you are the expert. Take a good look in the mirror before you try to nail your customer for your failure.
"I reorder the materials to make the replacement."
I guess the question is, what does that mean?
If you're talking about some custom ordered (can't be returned) stone or some such thing, then yes - the customer should pay for it. However, we would probably still take something off because there is also a reference to "making the replacement". So there is at least some labor that either didn't, or at least didn't need to, get done.
OTOH, if it's a stock item that can be returned, or if it was a roll of laminate that you were going to build a top with, then there should be a large adjustment to the benefit of the customer. Even returnable stock items often have a re-stock fee, but I'd think that at most 25% of the original price should have been charged.
While we as business owners shouldn't take advantage of a customer's mistake, the customer should not be allowed to take advantage of us either.
Finally, I agree that the question should not have come up. This should have been addressed as soon as the customer changed the color. No further work done until changes outlined and agreed to in writing. However, that's very easy to say in hind sight, not always so easy to do on the fly.
Here is an update: I charged the customer for the new tops. I credited the cost of the wrong top minus the 10% restocking fee for the materials for the remake top. She is happy and wrote the check on the spot.
Had I not already ordered the replacement materials, I wouldn't have said a word about the wrong one.
If you read my original post, I said: "Do I just credit the whole top once? Credit minus the restocking fee? Just credit the materials cost?" I have never overcharged a customer and don't plan on starting now. That is why I was looking for the right thing to do.
Thanks for the help everyone.
I think the reason you got a lot of responses because of this statement in your original post:
"Give the bill for both sets of tops and she says 'why isn't there a credit for the one that was made the wrong size?' "
This suggests that you DID initially bill her for the whole thing, and it was only because she questioned you that you considered an adjustment. Maybe that's not what happened, but that's my interpretation based on what you wrote.
Too funny- misunderstandings happen so fast.
What I read was billing for two tops-- not three. The originally ordered top and the new color top. The third top would be the mistake-- the one not on the bill.
No wonder bureaucracy gets so messy :)