Professional Painting Contractors Forum banner
1 - 20 of 43 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So a customer is threatening to sue due to not all of the imperfections in the walls being filled (like nail holes and such). I offered to come back and remedy the work, but she is still very angry and threatening to sue... What terms would they have to have to go to small claims court? I did have a contract saying that I would fill all imperfections:

"Downstairs living room, kitchen, dining room, bedroom, and
basement walls will be painted with Super Paint Flat (color to be
determined). Walls will be prepped, and nail holes and minor
imperfections will be spackled prior to painting."

Color and sheen was was discussed over text and email, and the concept of 1 coat was also discussed over email and text (of which I have all). Have any of you had any experience with this? This customer is kinda crazy anyway, but wanted to hear form you all if you had any experience with this.
I know it's ridiculous, but seeing that I dont have experience suing people, I wouldn't know the process.
And by the way, the paint job looks good, it's just it's an old house so yeah...

Thanks!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,560 Posts
Sorry for your troubles.

sounds like you covered your bases by offering to remedy the problem. If you fulfilled your end of the agreement, hopefully everything is in writing, then you should safe. Small claims cases usually favor the contractor in such cases.

Is it possible she is just looking for a discount, or is it something else? Some people just didn’t like to pay.

I am typically patient in dealing with these matters, and try not to escalate things out of hand, preferring to keep lines of communication open. However, in the end, if she owes you for services rendered and you have completed your end of the agreement, you may need to insist she pay.

start gathering all paperwork, pictures (before and after), all communications, and at some point you may need to let her know you are looking into filing a small claim.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Sorry for your troubles.

sounds like you covered your bases by offering to remedy the problem. If you fulfilled your end of the agreement, hopefully everything is in writing, then you should safe. Small claims cases usually favor the contractor in such cases.

Is it possible she is just looking for a discount, or is it something else? Some people just didn’t like to pay.

I am typically patient in dealing with these matters, and try not to escalate things out of hand, preferring to keep lines of communication open. However, in the end, if she owes you for services rendered and you have completed your end of the agreement, you may need to insist she pay.

start gathering all paperwork, pictures (before and after), all communications, and at some point you may need to let her know you are looking into filing a small claim.
The good thing is is that I already received payment! So it's just does she have what she needs to take me to court? I don't think so, and after working in this business as the owner for 3 years, I have never had a customer like this... it would be funny if it weren't so sad
 

·
Red Seal
Joined
·
64 Posts
So a customer is threatening to sue due to not all of the imperfections in the walls being filled (like nail holes and such). I offered to come back and remedy the work, but she is still very angry and threatening to sue... What terms would they have to have to go to small claims court? I did have a contract saying that I would fill all imperfections:
If your contract says you will fill all imperfections, then you have to follow through. That you've offered to do so means you've covered your bases. If the customer won't allow you to fix your deficiencies, then a court would likely dismiss any potential lawsuit.

I used to use wording provided by the PDCA (now the PCA - Painting Contractors Association) that specifically defines how a finished surface is to be inspected for acceptance.

Let's face it, some people are fanatics or OCD. About everything. There is no such thing as perfection. Precise contract terms protect you from such people.

Unless otherwise clearly defined in the project documents, the criteria for acceptance of architectural paints on the interior surfaces of structures shall be that of a properly painted surface as defined by PCA Standard Pl. "A "properly painted surface" is defined as uniform in appearance, color, texture, hiding and sheen. It is also free of foreign material, lumps, skins, runs, sags, holidays, misses, or insufficient coverage. It is also a surface free of drips, spatters, spills or overspray caused by the painting and decorating contractor's workforce. In order to determine whether a surface has been "properly painted" it shall be examined without magnification at a distance of thirty-nine (39) inches or one (1) meter, or more, under finished lighting conditions and from a normal viewing position."
You may want to consider a membership in the PCA and avail yourself of their resources.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,560 Posts
The good thing is is that I already received payment! So it's just does she have what she needs to take me to court? I don't think so, and after working in this business as the owner for 3 years, I have never had a customer like this... it would be funny if it weren't so sad
can you give her a few hours, or a day (etc…), to address the issues (ie., fix them)?

Most of the time nail holes should be filled. If that’s her beef, might be worth the trouble to fix.
 

·
Registered
Painter & Furniture Refinishing
Joined
·
2,699 Posts
Make sure you offer the fix in writing, email, text, whatever and keep all those things sent and answered, in case of court action. I have always found I got paid promptly when I suggested I might need to place a lien on the property. On a few occasions I did so and sent copies of the paper work to the client. I then got paid within hours. This would not be as effective with commercial work where the owners are happy to have liens against the property but it seems to really creep out HOs. It's cheaper than court and no place for arguments that I ever saw.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you all for your responses, I am currently having trouble getting her to commit to a time to fix the problems, so this answers my question. Also, I will look into a membership into PCA and look at their resources. Thank you guys!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,509 Posts
Thank you all for your responses, I am currently having trouble getting her to commit to a time to fix the problems, so this answers my question. Also, I will look into a membership into PCA and look at their resources. Thank you guys!
Not that you shouldnt take it seriously, but I think the client is just a Karen. They dont have as much power as they think... I actually need to make a thread about some would be client thats trying to cancel my company right now....
 

·
Registered
Residential Painter
Joined
·
53 Posts
If I were you, I would write up a second contract for this wacko to cover your butt.

Nothing fancy, but detailing everything she wants fixed for her to sign prior to you addressing AND after to confirm you have completed the fixes to her satisfaction.

For example, "On xx/xx/xxxx the property located at 1313 Mockingbird Lane was painted for Karen McCrazypants. Full payment was received on xx/xx/xxxx by check #42.

"The contractor was contacted on x due to customer being unsatisfied with the final result. The contractor stated he would return on x to address problems on x.

"The repairs are to be completed on x FOC. The customer shall provide the location of all problem areas prior to commencement of repairs.

Signatures:

"Customer agrees that all repairs were completed to her satisfaction

Signatures:

Depending on how insane this woman is, have 4 copies signed and then send one to each of you via certified mail. Don't open yours. If she continues her shenanigans, you have dated proof of the contract.

It's utterly over the top, but not only protects your ass, but shows her you are not some idiot who she can take advantage of for personal gain.

Damn people suck!
 

·
Registered
Property Manager
Joined
·
206 Posts
If it does come to litigation, it will be small claims court..you don't need a lawyer, just you, your documentation and your side of the story. If your offer to come back was verbal, I would resend through text or email.
Good luck
If I remember correctly in mAny states. The client doesn't need an attorney but the business owner is required legal representation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
647 Posts
Very good question!
In my experience, some houses are so messed up you can't even really see them until after paint is already down. And in some situations if you're using joint compound/spackle, it can be worse to try to paint them than leave them alone for a final look due to flashing. I think a good solution though you can do for smaller nailholes if some pop up after the first coat is use caulk instead of compound/spackle, because caulk you can quickly just wipe up, and won't flash or leave a big mark of different texture, and you can paint over in 20 minutes.
 

·
Registered
Residential Painter
Joined
·
53 Posts
In my experience, some houses are so messed up you can't even really see them until after paint is already down. And in some situations if you're using joint compound/spackle, it can be worse to try to paint them than leave them alone for a final look due to flashing. I think a good solution though you can do for smaller nailholes if some pop up after the first coat is use caulk instead of compound/spackle, because caulk you can quickly just wipe up, and won't flash or leave a big mark of different texture, and you can paint over in 20 minutes.
We also don't know where the nail holes were. I've painted some teenage bedrooms after they go to college and it looks like they were practicing to become a world champion at darts!

If I have to spackle between coats, I "spot prime" those areas after sanding and don't have an issue with flashing on second coat.

The biggest pain, IMO, are the nail pops that you couldn't see with the halogen, but shine bright as day when you are rolling. Grrrrr.
 

·
Registered
Painter & Furniture Refinishing
Joined
·
2,699 Posts
In my experience, some houses are so messed up you can't even really see them until after paint is already down. And in some situations if you're using joint compound/spackle, it can be worse to try to paint them than leave them alone for a final look due to flashing. I think a good solution though you can do for smaller nailholes if some pop up after the first coat is use caulk instead of compound/spackle, because caulk you can quickly just wipe up, and won't flash or leave a big mark of different texture, and you can paint over in 20 minutes.
@Smilingpolitely However, he promised all would be filled,
"I did have a contract saying that I would fill all imperfections:
Downstairs living room, kitchen, dining room, bedroom, and
basement walls will be painted with Super Paint Flat (color to be
determined). Walls will be prepped, and nail holes and minor
imperfections will be spackled prior to painting."

A promise made is a debt unpaid.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
647 Posts
@Smilingpolitely However, he promised all would be filled,
"I did have a contract saying that I would fill all imperfections:
Downstairs living room, kitchen, dining room, bedroom, and
basement walls will be painted with Super Paint Flat (color to be
determined). Walls will be prepped, and nail holes and minor
imperfections will be spackled prior to painting."

A promise made is a debt unpaid.
I think that's hard wording in contracts, and it's wording I never used for mine. I'd just have "paint two coats ____" but just verbally went over the expectations of wall repair. I think wording like that in your contract opens a giant can of worms, because to some people they will expect nothing less than a full skim coat, but want you to do it for a bargain basement price. It's in the eye of the beholder what is "minor" or not, and we all know laymen think we can wave a magic wand to fix everything.

I think the main thing in doing this kind of work is underpromise and overdeliver, instead of overpromise and underdeliver. And some customers, you legitimately cannot promise them what their vision is, so if you lose the job, you lose the job, but it's better than working under the conditions of never being able to meet the expectation. I've straight out said during estimates, in a place not painted since the 90s, with pet problems on the walls, latex over oil on railings, etc, "I can't work a miracle here" (well I could have for a much higher price, but she definitely wasn't willing to pay that...) and didn't end up getting the job, but other customers (more landlords in this regard) were more understanding and just said "hey, do the best you can and that's it."

Of course since it's the internet we all want to say we always do our best 100% of the time, etc, but reasonably you can only work for what you're getting paid to do and not every job can be perfection. So I think then the key is understanding, or managing, your customer's expectations. With the OP, all my jobs I never had issues getting paid or people threatening to go to court, but I think I tended to underbid and do really good work but for wrong prices, so people were generally always happy, but I left a lot of money on the table.

With my boss and his business, though, he did get into situations of threatened litigation, though, kinda similar to OP, but I could always say regardless of who was in the right or wrong, he definitely tended to overpromise, hype himself up, etc, etc, more than I did. Of course he was a much more successful businessman than me, and actually made a profit, but still the amount of drama I think he went through was pretty high at times.
 

·
Registered
Residential Painter
Joined
·
53 Posts
@Smilingpolitely However, he promised all would be filled,
"I did have a contract saying that I would fill all imperfections:
Downstairs living room, kitchen, dining room, bedroom, and
basement walls will be painted with Super Paint Flat (color to be
determined). Walls will be prepped, and nail holes and minor
imperfections will be spackled prior to painting."

A promise made is a debt unpaid.
I am NOT arguing against the question. My first question when reading the OP was, "How did you not see it?".

However, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that the walls could have been a nightmare.

The OP apologized and offered to fix it immediately. Sometimes you forget that small thing you meant to go back to. It happens.

The fact she went so far as to threaten a lawsuit is coo-koo bananas crazy!
 
1 - 20 of 43 Posts
Top