A query arose on a forum in the Isle of Man this week in this vein that I thought would be useful to cover in a blog, as I am sure it is a fairly common occurrence that seems to crop up from time to time everywhere.

The question was put in the following format;

Has anyone had a situation where they have paid quite a sizeable amount of money upfront for materials for work to be done?  Some work has been carried out but it’s taken five weeks longer than you were told it would and only about 20% of the job done (and they didn’t start until nearly eight weeks after they should have) and now I can’t get in touch with them and haven’t heard anything since last Friday nor seen anyone on site for nearly two weeks?

They are what I thought was a reputable Manx company, I’ve been to their premises, they are registered and I have a written quotation (stupidly forgot to make them give us a contract but just had a baby so I’m not my usual self)… I just don’t know where I stand. Can we get our money back? Can we report the company anywhere? If anyone has had similar experiences I would really like to know what you did.

(Not naming and shaming the company here because I hope to resolve the issue, we want the work done asap because we are in a mess, but I’m starting to worry and would like some knowledge on next steps if I’m forced to take them. So frustrating that we have to get to this when you put your trust in people especially when they know you have a young baby too).

It’s all too easy to get muddled with the details and someone else commented;

Pretty standard over here. They take your money up front start the job then disappear to work on another job elsewhere. Avoid you as much as possible and then finally come back and finish the job eventually. This ensures they always have a job on the go and you are tied in as you have paid out money to them. Always try and not pay money up front if you can. Or buy the materials yourself as you don’t know what they are spending your money on.

The Isle of Man ticks along on its own timescale and everyone seems to make their own rules up as they go along, but it is a small Island and issues like this are probably much easier to resolve than they would be in the UK.

My advice in this instance was;

The fact that you have paid upfront for materials for work to be done and they have engaged in the job is a contract in itself, so I wouldn’t worry about that aspect.

As it stands, the contract has failed so you could take it to the Small Claims Court as a last resort, although you have to be seen to have explored all avenues first.

I would approach Trading Standards as the first port of call and hopefully they will be able to remedy it before you have to take it any further. Any refund will factor in the work done to date.

I cover various scenarios like this complete with templates based on real-life test cases that work in my book now on sale via Amazon as an e-book and paperback priced £2.99 / £7.99.

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