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Old 06-01-2012, 07:27 PM   #1
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Default Should i sue a client for $700?

A friend of mine who is a kitchen and bath designer referred me to one of his clients for painting. I meet with what appeared to me as a nice intellectual couple. Gave them a quote, they agreed and before starting the job i made them sign a one page contract.
They were renovating an old home and my task was to REPAINT the interior.
The contract specifically stated. Prime to be used ONLY on areas where new dry wall was installed or plaster repairs.
He paid me 50% upfront before i started then i started work. I promised them that painting will be done within a week if not earlier.
While me and my guys were working they would come and compliment me regarding my attention to details.
Total amount was i believe $3700 not including paint.
towards the end he paid me another amount making the total paid amount to $3000, (he still owned me $700).

I also told him that in case there were scratches during floor installation (which was done after painting) i would come back and touch up the areas for free.
A week goes by, floor was installed then i call him to get the last $700 payment.
When i get there he started giving me attitude saying i didnt do the job properly because baseboards were previewsly painted in oil and i just painted them semigloss without primer.
Apparently he went to Benjamin Moore store and they told him that the guy who is painting your house is not professional because they should buy this and that product to remove oil paint first then prime and 2 coats of semigloss paint.

I was trying to be calm and i asked him a very simple question: " Do you still have a copy of the contract or you want me to provide you with one?, It specifically says that i will only prime areas where there are plaster or new drywall installations, nothing more and nothing less. If i start priming the whole house you would have been paying more. However i can redo it by priming it first and then giving it two coats of semigloss even though it is not part of our contract"
He then said: No i want you to remove the paint you have used first then when that paint is completely off you will prime it and give two coats of semi.
I said Sir that is impossible... then he got more agitated and asked me to leave his property.

I know it is just $700 but i have never been treated like that before.
I was aware of the fact that baseboards were previously painted in oil, and thats why i ordered a special formula that works best to stick as much as possible to oil.
The owner did not have scratches on the baseboards. He was just pissed off because These idiots that call them selves professionals at the paint store told him that oil can not be repainted without a primer. Which is true. That is the best way to go about it, but when you do not have a budget for it and you don't mention it i will consider it a repaint and my best to prime whenever it is absolutely necessary.

Again he did not have one single scratch on the baseboards. if you tried to nail scratch it nothing would have happened to the paint. I did offer to repaint the baseboards and he refused.

Should i sue this client or not?

Last edited by Auolona; 06-01-2012 at 07:32 PM..
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Old 06-01-2012, 07:30 PM   #2
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I didn't read your story, but you don't sue over 700 bucks you take them to small claims. which you both represent yourselves, no lawyers.
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Old 06-01-2012, 07:35 PM   #3
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You ordered a "special formula" ?
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Old 06-01-2012, 07:40 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Auolona
A friend of mine who is a kitchen and bath designer referred me to one of his clients for painting. I meet with what appeared to me as a nice intellectual couple. Gave them a quote, they agreed and before starting the job i made them sign a one page contract.
They were renovating an old home and my task was to REPAINT the interior.
The contract specifically stated. Prime to be used ONLY on areas where new dry wall was installed or plaster repairs.
He paid me 50% upfront before i started then i started work. I promised them that painting will be done within a week if not earlier.
While me and my guys were working they would come and compliment me regarding my attention to details.
Total amount was i believe $3700 not including paint.
towards the end he paid me another amount making the total paid amount to $3000, (he still owned me $700).

I also told him that in case there were scratches during floor installation (which was done after painting) i would come back and touch up the areas for free.
A week goes by, floor was installed then i call him to get the last $700 payment.
When i get there he started giving me attitude saying i didnt do the job properly because baseboards were previewsly painted in oil and i just painted them semigloss without primer.
Apparently he went to Benjamin Moore store and they told him that the guy who is painting your house is not professional because they should buy this and that product to remove oil paint first then prime and 2 coats of semigloss paint.

I was trying to be calm and i asked him a very simple question: " Do you still have a copy of the contract or you want me to provide you with one?, It specifically says that i will only prime areas where there are plaster or new drywall installations, nothing more and nothing less. If i start priming the whole house you would have been paying more. However i can redo it by priming it first and then giving it two coats of semigloss even though it is not part of our contract"
He then said: No i want you to remove the paint you have used first then when that paint is completely off you will prime it and give two coats of semi.
I said Sir that is impossible... then he got more agitated and asked me to leave his property.

I know it is just $700 but i have never been treated like that before.
I was aware of the fact that baseboards were previously painted in oil, and thats why i ordered a special formula that works best to stick as much as possible to oil.
The owner did not have scratches on the baseboards. He was just pissed off because These idiots that call them selves professionals at the paint store told him that oil can not be repainted without a primer. Which is true. That is the best way to go about it, but when you do not have a budget for it and you don't mention it i will consider it a repaint and my best to prime whenever it is absolutely necessary.

Again he did not have one single scratch on the baseboards. if you tried to nail scratch it nothing would have happened to the paint. I did offer to repaint the baseboards and he refused.

Should i sue this client or not?
It's not worth the hassle. I'd let it go.
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Old 06-01-2012, 07:47 PM   #5
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And tell him you added urine in the semi to make it stick to oil better.
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Old 06-01-2012, 07:48 PM   #6
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What Gabe said, sounds like they went over budget and are trying to recover their loss by shorting your pay.
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Old 06-01-2012, 07:54 PM   #7
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Or they are pissed because he put water over oil and now they can not vacuum or mop the floors because the paint will come off..

Regardless of the customers budget, I would never skip chit knowing it will fail. If they can't afford to do it right then they should hold off till they can.

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Old 06-01-2012, 07:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roominaday View Post
and tell him you added urine in the semi to make it stick to oil better.
dont give away my secrets. Goshh. Btw your supposed to add bear fecees as well

Last edited by StripandCaulk; 06-01-2012 at 07:59 PM..
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Old 06-01-2012, 07:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatsPainting
Or they are pissed because he put water over oil and now they can not vacuum or mop the floors because the paint will come off..

Regardless of the customers budget, I would never skip chit knowing it will fail. If they can't afford to do it right then they should hold off till they can.

Pat
Agree 100% but its far from reality. Had a customer today bring pictures of his deck. A stain nightmare...he asked what to do. I said it definitely needs to be stripped or whatever he puts over it will fail. He proceeded to ask me at least 10 different ways about what would happen if he went over it with different brand stains without stripping.....I said they would all fail. He didn't believe me and left.
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Old 06-01-2012, 08:04 PM   #10
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What process, and product did you use to get good adhesion to the substrate? Are there any bonding issues, or just gouges and scratches on the base because of the floor guys? Just trying to clarify.

I know that the customer got what was in the contract, and what he paid for. But sometimes they ask for something that isn't in there best interest. Homeowners aren't born with a painting manual in there heads. Its up to us as the professionals to educate, and deliver a job that will perform. Otherwise don't do it.
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Old 06-01-2012, 08:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Schmidt & Co. View Post
What process, and product did you use to get good adhesion to the substrate? Are there any bonding issues, or just gouges and scratches on the base because of the floor guys? Just trying to clarify.

I know that the customer got what was in the contract, and what he paid for. But sometimes they ask for something that isn't in there best interest. Homeowners aren't born with a painting manual in there heads. Its up to us as the professionals to educate, and deliver a job that will perform. Otherwise don't do it.
Schmidt, in his post he said he used a "special formula"
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Old 06-01-2012, 08:06 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewingpainting.net View Post
I didn't read your story, but you don't sue over 700 bucks you take them to small claims. which you both represent yourselves, no lawyers.
When you take someone to small claims court, you are suing them!
I do believe you can hire an attorney if you want to.

Small claims in NJ is up to $2,000.

Special Civil is up to $5,000.

Civil, sky is the limit!
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Old 06-01-2012, 08:07 PM   #13
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Yes, sue the bastard!
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Old 06-01-2012, 08:09 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StripandCaulk View Post
Schmidt, in his post he said he used a "special formula"
Is that a private label, and who makes it?
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Old 06-01-2012, 08:10 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Schmidt & Co. View Post
Is that a private label, and who makes it?
Idk, hopefully i can get my hands on it though it sounds intense. When i can tell my clients i have a special formula im going to sell so many more jobs
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Old 06-01-2012, 08:16 PM   #16
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How many hours and time off from work will it require to go to court?
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Old 06-01-2012, 08:18 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaintingContractorNJ View Post
When you take someone to small claims court, you are suing them!
I do believe you can hire an attorney if you want to.

Small claims in NJ is up to $2,000.

Special Civil is up to $5,000.

Civil, sky is the limit!
small claims in Calif is up to 10 k and you represent yourself. and you right it is still a lawsuit.
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Old 06-01-2012, 08:23 PM   #18
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Auolona,

I can understand a paint store commenting that it is common practice to apply a bonding primer over old oil to ensure proper adhesion, but you state there is no adhesion problems.

If you prepared the surface correctly (sand & wash), applied a product that was suitable and have no adhesion issues, you should prevail in a small claims type of setting.

Do you Canadians have Small Claims Courts?

If you feel you acted responsibly to provide a professional service (not ONLY fulfilling the contract, but fulfilling it PROFESSIONALLY), then by all means, do what you can to recoup your $700.

I would first write him and describe how your process was suitable and within acceptable standards and that you feel the paint store was NOT giving sound advice. If he refuses to pay, then gather all your evidence (including manufacturer's recommendations for the product use over oil) and file a claim.

He will try to prove you did NOT use the product in a manner as recommended by the manufacturer regardless of what the contract stated.



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Old 06-01-2012, 08:33 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewingpainting.net View Post
small claims in Calif is up to 10 k and you represent yourself. and you right it is still a lawsuit.
Calif - $10,000 (effective January 1, 2012), except that a plaintiff may not file a claim over $2,500 more than twice a year. Limit for local public entity or for businesses is $5,000. $6,500 is the limit in suits by an individual against a guarantor that charges for its guarantor or surety services.
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Old 06-01-2012, 08:33 PM   #20
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Well mate, in my opinion you should have prepared and primed the skirting boards before applying the topcoat. Skirtings tend to get a hammering from the mop and the broom, so it needs a really hard durable finish. If you have applied acrylic topcoat over oil based then it will scratch off.

The homeowner has a legitimate point of concern.
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