A Contractor Made Unauthorized Charges On My Credit Card

Replacing the flooring in his house, Scott authorized the contractor to charge 30 percent of the estimated cost as a down payment. To his dismay, the contractor rang up the card for the full amount before the work was done, then continued to charge the card when he needed more materials.

Scott wants you to take a look at his story and give you some advice:

Is it legal for a flooring contractor to make charges to my credit card that I did not specifically authorize? Here’s a description of the circumstances.

Earlier this year I contracted with a local company to replace all of the flooring in our home, which we were putting up for sale. The flooring company’s contract required a 30% down payment, and 70% on completion of the work. I used my MasterCard over the phone with them to make the down payment.

About three weeks later the company began installing the hardwood, tile, and vinyl floors. What I found surprising was that this company used my charge account to pay themselves the remaining 70% a week before the flooring was completely installed.

They did not ask me for permission to use my card, or even notify me in advance.

During the flooring installation, they requested materials that were not included in the initial estimate. I agreed to those materials. A few days after that they charged those materials to my MasterCard, again without my approval or notification.

The way I found out about these charges was that they later mailed the invoices marked “Paid in full”, including the credit card receipts. When I complained about this, the co-owner of the company seemed unconcerned and said that her clerical staffer had probably forgotten to call.

As I see it, this behavior deprived me of the option of choosing the form of payment. It deprived me of the ability to determine whether the work had been completed under the contract prior to final payment. In fact, it was not.

It was also inconvenient, because I had several other improvements being made to the home at that time and needed to carefully manage my credit card balances.

So my questions are, 1) was the flooring contractor’s use of my MasterCard unlawful? And 2) Was this a misuse of the agreement that a retail company makes with MasterCard when arranging to accept their card?

I’ve had no luck finding this information online so far, and am not even getting useful advice from mastercard.com. Their answer: “Open a dispute via your card issuer.”

Have you handled credit card disputes with contractors in the past? What would you do in Scott’s situation?

Comments

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  1. jdmba says:

    Why would you give them your credit card? I have had MUCH work done, and, at the worst, you would order/bill/pay for them (if they didn’t float).

    • Necoras says:

      The wording is confusing here. He “gave them his card” in the same way that you give your card to Amazon or some other merchant. They made the initial charge, as authorized. However, instead of asking for permission to make further charges, either for the materials or final 70%, they simply charged the card again. This time that charge was without explicit authorization.

      It would be similar to swiping your credit card at an auto mechanics shop to pay them $19.95 to look at your car to figure out what the rattling you are hearing is, and then they charge $1000 parts and labor without asking you first.

    • TheRedSeven says:

      It probably won’t help at this point, but my credit card has the option to generate one-time use numbers for online and over-the-phone purchases. I EXCLUSIVELY use this when making purchases online/over-the-phone.

      There have been one or two instances where the company said, “Oh, we couldn’t process the charge on your card,” when in reality, they tried to split the charge into two parts (part for airline tickets, part for hotel reservations), and the second was declined. But it makes me so much more secure to know that they can’t ever charge a 3rd or 4th or however many charges without my say-so.

    • sleze69 says:

      He didn’t give them his card. He paid for 30% of the bill with his card and they later used that information to fraudulently charge it again (without authorization).

  2. tweeder82o says:

    call your credit card company and have them refund you

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      You might not be able to do that. You can say that they are unauthorized, but unless you had something in writing that they were supposed to run things by you first (ie, invoice) you’re SOL.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        False. When you use a credit card, the person chaging the card (meaning the business) must retain proof you authorized the charge. You, the consumer, are not the person responsible to retain proof the charge is authorized. A business must have and maintain receipts with a signature. These are considered equivalent of legal tender and the basis for the legitimacy of card transactions.

    • DanRydell says:

      … and then pay the balance due with some other payment method. You forgot that part. He still needs to pay what he owes.

      • sonneillon says:

        Yeah but he charged more than the contracted amount. If the amount was paid in full then any extra charged is fraudulent.

  3. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    This is actually a situation in which paying by check is quite handy.

    • tbax929 says:

      That was my first thought, too, but then I realized that if the OP is doing a lot of renovations, he may not have had the cash available in order to write a check for the deposit.

      I think the way I would’ve handled it would be not to do a phone authorization in the first place. Go down to the storefront or contractor’s office and sign a charge slip for the 30% down. Of course, I’m never comfortable with giving anyone a blanket authorization for my CC or bank account.

      • selkie says:

        With some HELOCs, they give you a credit card to use to draw the home loan. It saves the step of having to actually do something to get the HELOC money transferred into your checking or saving account before using it.

    • Bativac says:

      Yeah – if you actually have the cash. I am guessing the OP was putting the home improvements on his credit card, versus using savings or taking out a home improvement loan in advance.

      The best way to deal with contractors is cash. You give them the deposit, they get the rest when the job is completed to your satisfaction.

  4. TuxthePenguin says:

    Uggg… that sucks.

    I have plenty of experience working with contractors as my wife and I own several rental houses (that’s another story… if you’re not someone who likes to deal with possible constant problems, don’t be a landlord).

    The first thing he should do is close the Mastercard. Yesterday. From there, it depends on the contract. Do you have anything in writing? If not, you’re basically screwed. But keep a list of the charges so when the contractor comes to settle up, you can discount the final amount owed by what you already “paid.”

    In the future, I’d would recommend you only write checks for contractors. Paper documentation is a blessing when it comes to contracts. And if they want you to pay for materials, they need to run it past you before purchasing. If they purchase something and you hadn’t approved it beforehand, tough luck, they just did something pro bono. After the first time, it won’t happen again.

    Tough luck…

    • ageekymom says:

      I hear you! Sadly though, the OP says he received a bill marked “Paid in Full” so he no option to bring it up at the end of the job.
      Over 20 years ago (when I was a child-bride of 22) I was in charge of overseeing the installation of a new bathroom in our house. The contractor quoted me a price of $12 for a tub diverter. Later, when it was time to settle up on the job, he told me that the price was actually $212! HA! I think he believed me to be a meek little thing and cave, but when he told me that if I didn’t pay for it he was going to “have to eat it.” I told him I hoped it tasted good, cause I wasn’t going to pay for it. I think that’s when my husband was sure he married the right gal! ;-)

  5. syzygy says:

    Giving your credit card info to a contractor (over the phone!) has to be one of the least responsible things I’ve ever heard. Invoices exist for a reason.

    That said, the contractor should have done the responsible thing and notified the OP before charging the card. Too bad what a contractor is supposed to do is almost never what they actually do.

  6. IphtashuFitz says:

    First thing – call the CC company and request a new # so that this guy can’t go and charge a Caribbean vacation or anything else.

  7. fantomesq says:

    Yes, you can dispute the charges with your provider… and seeing how they will be wholly unable to provide evidence that you authorized the charges you will probably win the chargeback.

    Are you unhappy with the final work? Did they actually charge you more than you had agreed to? If not then perhaps consider not doing business with them in the future or recommending them but it sounds like the payment was merely untimely, not incorrect, and that you’d just have to settle up with them again for the same amount after you win the chargeback, so why bother?

  8. Liam Kinkaid says:

    Check the contract you signed with the contractor. They definitely should have contacted you prior to running your card, but the contract may have specific language dealing with payment times, terms, etc.

    I’m an auditor for a mechanical contracting company. We don’t deal with consumer/end user type installations; we’re more the governmental/hospital/education new install and retrofit. On this side of the industry, it’s typical for us to be in an “overbilled” situation, where we have billed the general contractor for more work than we have actually performed. Part of this is timing, because contractors want their bills on or before the 10th or 25th, but the billing includes work done through the end of the month, so there’s some estimating involved. Part of it is to compensate for retainage, which is money held back from the contract until the general contractor and/or owner is satisfied with the work and releases final payment. These items are prevalent on this side of the contracting business, but some items might be included in your contract.

    Like I said, check your contract. You’ve done good by talking to one of the owners, even though the result wasn’t satisfactory. Speak to her again and explain that the contract didn’t allow for prebilling before final signoff, and the situation her staff has put you in. Also, let her know that with behavior like this, you absolutely cannot recommend their company at this time because, although their work may be adequate, their customer communications skills are severely lacking. I hope this helps you out a little.

    • Velifer says:

      But contracting to a GC on a big project is VERY different from contracting with a homeowner on a small project. There shouldn’t be any pay-as-you-go shenanigans, this isn’t a multi-million dollar job. A reputable contractor will float the costs with payment net due x days after completion.

      Your company has to make nice with the GC, that’s where your next job is coming from. A puny little homeowner doesn’t have that kind of leverage over your company.

      • Liam Kinkaid says:

        Yeah, I was just giving those as examples (mostly to exonerate myself from being associated as an “evil contractor”), and things got kinda muddled up in there. Nevertheless, my advice still stands. Check and double check the contract and speak to the owner again, letting her know about the concerns. Smaller contractors know how word-of-mouth works very well. Sorry to have been confusing. :(

  9. Buckus says:

    This sucks, but on the other hand..that’s what checks are for.

  10. LuckyLady says:

    What the what.

    You should never, ever give a contractor a penny before the job is done to your complete satisfaction.

    If you are ordering materials, YOU pay for them. Not the contractor. Or have the contractor invoice them for you.

    • tbax929 says:

      I think it’s pretty standard to pay a deposit to a contractor and have done it many times myself. I wouldn’t pay for the work in full until it was completed to my satisfaction, but putting down a deposit seems reasonable to me.

    • Bativac says:

      This is a good point.

      Working in the homeowners insurance industry, we ran into many situations where contractors took down payments and vanished. If you buy the supplies yourself, then if the contractor skips town, you still have the materials on hand for when the next contractor is hired.

      Contractors have a reputation that they have earned…

      • bubbs says:

        Homeowners have the reputation of not paying when the job is complete. Its a two way street I usually ask for half down to cover parts and some of the labor cost before i start a job. I do not think this is unreasonable to ask after being not paid when the work is complete on $1,000 to $20,000+ jobs. And not because they were unhappy with the work or was not done according to contract but because they tell me “we don’t have the money right now” or “were not paying quit calling”. As for the op best thing to do is call the BBB and file a complaint, this should get there attention if there a reputable company. As with any time you hire a contractor you should check with the BBB first to see what there score is. People that take money and run are not contractors they are scam artists.

    • Woofer says:

      Good luck finding a contractor to do that. A more common scenario is to negotiate it down to installment payments for hitting milestones. For example, in the situation above, a down payment of x%, then another y% once the existing flooring is torn up, another z% once the flooring is down, and paid in full upon inspection to satisfaction.

      • LuckyLady says:

        I just had about $15k worth of work done to my home, working with several different contractors, and NONE of them asked for any money up front. I would never do business with a contractor like that. Ever. No installments. If they think I’m not going to pay, they can put a lien on my house when I don’t pay. But more importantly, if they need my cash to pay their workers because they don’t have the cash flow, I don’t want to do business with them!

    • Velifer says:

      A contractor asking for a down payment or pay-as-you-go for a small project (smaller than a whole fuckin’ house) is a sure sign that the company doesn’t have the resources–bankroll or credit–or professionalism to do the job. Find someone else. This is a big red flag.

      They buy the materials, they pay the wages, they might even pick up the permits, if that’s how we negotiate things. Then I pay for the finished work that meets the contract specs.

      Don’t let them treat you like a general contractor. You’re a homeowner, you don’t have the same recourse that a GC will have. Hold on to the only leverage you have until the job is done right.

      • Sudonum says:

        No it’s a not a sure sign that the company doesn’t have the resources to do the job. Anymore than it’s a sure sign that the contractor has been screwed before and wants some money up front before he orders materials for your house that he may have to eat entirely, or pay a restocking charge on because you changed your mind, or can’t afford the work. Or maybe you’re trying to float the money for the work on the contractors dime yourself until the house closes and have the money to pay him.

        • JiminyChristmas says:

          I see where you’re coming from, but I disagree. The solution is not the homeowner giving the contractor money for work they haven’t performed yet. The proper solution that benefits both parties equally is a signed contract that: 1) Defines the exact scope of work. 2) States the price of the work. and 3) Sets a schedule for when the work will be performed.

          If you have an agreed upon scope and price, when the homeowner changes their mind on some part of the work it’s not a problem. It’s an owner-initiated change subject to separate pricing. If the homeowner wants to back out of the project after signing a contract, then the contractor has solid grounds to recoup their costs. Sometimes people don’t pay and you have to haul them into court to get what you’re owed. It’s a fact of life for anyone that doesn’t get paid in cash.

          Having a good contract protects both parties. Considering the dollar amounts that change hands I’m repeatedly surprised at the vague or totally lacking written terms that accompany a lot of contracting work. What I don’t get is that it’s the contractor that has the most to lose by not having good documents, but they are usually the ones who are sloppiest about it.

    • sonneillon says:

      This is in response to your responses and the answer is it depends. If the work takes less than a week. Don’t pay anything up front. Have 10 contractors give you a bid. tell them your terms and put them in writing. My terms involve a a discount in final pay for every day after the estimated completion date and no pay up front. There are always 4 or 5 who balk. The rest bid then I pick the one with insurance who is cheaper. If the project is going to last a month. I usually pick up supplies for them and pay in percentages as the job gets done. But I have only once been forced to pay up front and that was for a specialist.

    • peebozi says:

      yea, and NEVER fall for paying for both the materials AND labor! /rolleyes

      also, when you purchase the materials then you’re usually responsible for replacing any bad items, paying the contractor to remove/reinstall replacement and you void any type of material warranty from your contractor. since you’re cheap enough to go this route and don’t mind the potential risk then this is a good choice. but your contractors that you beat up probably give all of this to you because of your hard nosed approach.

  11. Bomias says:

    What do the terms of your contract specify in terms of payment? I am a general contractor and I’ll tell you the key to dealing with most construction related conflicts…do it in person if possible. Take your contract to their office and have the discussion or demand an owner/rep come to your site.

  12. imsnowbear says:

    Wait… You are apparently satisfied with the work, you agreed to the extra material charges and your bill is marked paid in full. Where’s the problem? This worked to your advantage. You now have an extended period of time to pay the balance for the work, rather than on completion. “Deprived of the ability to chose the form of payment.” Oh, please. There’s nothing preventing you from paying immediately on your credit card for the work. I’m going to check the “blame the OP” option here. I suspect that the contractor became concerned about getting paid for his work. If the OP is complaining about this, I’m sure he was going to find lots of things to kvetch about. In fact, if the OP really isn’t satisfied with the work, he can always initiate a chargeback. Maybe the additional charges weren’t authorized, but “no harm, no foul.”

    • Doncosmic says:

      “As I see it, this behavior deprived me of the option of choosing the form of payment. It deprived me of the ability to determine whether the work had been completed under the contract prior to final payment. In fact, it was not.”

      Try reading the article next time

      • imsnowbear says:

        Try reading the article carefully. He said he was deprived of “the ability determine whether the work had been completed under the contract prior to final payment. In fact, it was not.” A careful reading would lead to the conclusion that the work may not have been completed prior to billing, but nowhere does he say the work was not satisfactory. Further, until he actually pays the credit card bill he hasn’t paid. The guy owes the money to the contractor.

    • tsukiotoshi says:

      Well they did not have his permission to use that card. So kind of not cool. What if he needed to use a different card because the 30% maxed that one out?

      I agree with you on the point here that he should probably just leave it since he’d have to pay anyway, but seriously, what the contractor did was not OK.

    • partofme says:

      This is not “no harm, no foul”. This is bad business practice that needs to be rectified. We don’t actually know if there was no harm, and even if there was no harm in this case, this type of action could result in harm to others. The OP alluded to a couple of ways that there either was harm or could have been harm (in the past, there could have been overage fees… currently, one could have a different transaction denied). He also mentioned a preempting of his right to approve of the final work before the final payment. This is obviously a harmful effect to the consumer, and runs directly contrary to the terms agree upon in the contract. I would add that there are potential consequences for interest calculations on a credit card. We don’t know which, if any, of these really came into play in this instance, but they are all eliminated very simply by following the established procedure. Is it that hard to do things the way they should be done?

    • psm321 says:

      What if he had been taken over his credit limit? Or what if the high balance on the card hurt his application for a mortgage on a new house? Regardless of whether it actually affected him, what the company did was wrong and should not be defended. On the other hand, I’m not sure there’s much he can do about it other than warn others through reviews…

  13. MickeyMoo says:

    If you have the fact that only 30% of the bill should have been initially put on the card in writing – it would seem that the balance was fraudulently charged to your card by them. Assuming the floor was installed to your satisfaction and no unrelated charges were made to your account, this might be a situation where you would wish to tread carefully. Perhaps explaining the situation in writing via a registered letter to the vendor and asking that they credit that card for the 70% and charge another card would suffice? The bottom line being that you would have had to pay for the floor once it was completed, and the OP doesn’t mention outright fraud, or dissatisfaction with the installation, just the hubris with which the vendor charged the card.

    • DanRydell says:

      Fraudulently? Where’s the fraud?

      • Woofer says:

        No fraud here. There’s no deception or misleading here, and probably no damage either unless the early charges caused some payment to bounce. Maybe you mean breach of contract?

  14. pantheonoutcast says:

    “During the flooring installation, they requested materials that were not included in the initial estimate. I agreed to those materials. A few days after that they charged those materials to my MasterCard, again without my approval or notification. “

    Wait, so they charged you twice without your permission? What happened after you discovered they did it the first time, told them to stop, and then called your credit card company so they would refuse to allow any future charges to that contractor?

    Or did you find out about all of the charges at the same time (at completion of the job)? You don’t track your credit cards (especially the one you used for this job) on a semi-regular basis?

    • DanRydell says:

      I assume before we had online banking you must have called your credit card companies weekly to check all of the charges since the previous statement?

      • pantheonoutcast says:

        No. But I also don’t give out my credit card information to people before work is completed to my satisfaction.

  15. hopson77 says:

    Most contractors I’ve with whom I’ve dealt will split the job into three equal payments. One at the beginning of the job, the next as the job is about halfway done and the last upon satisfactory completion. The contractor isn’t making any money off of you until he gets that last check, so he’s not likely to cut and run.

  16. davidc says:

    No, the contractor should not have charged your Card for the remaining 70% as per contract.

    Then again, if the work is done and complete, the contractor can either charge your card, or put a lien on your house … which would you prefer? Either way, he is going to get his money if he fulfilled his end of the contract.

    On the Extra Materials due to a Customer Approved Change Order, the contractor should have charged 30% of those materials to your card when you *approved* the change order notice … you “authorized” the change order, and you “agreed” to 30% down payment, when you increase the size of the project, you are obligated to increase the size of the down payment (unless otherwise stated in your contract, which I doubt).

    So yea, no harm no foul here … and if you think you were going to get a “float” by saying: The check is in the mail … most contractors, when told you want to pay by check will say: Be there in 15 mins to pick up the check, and btw, where is your nearest branch so I can stop by and cash it on the way back to the office?

    • Me - now with more humidity says:

      Bzzzzt. Wrong.

      The contractor was not entitled to put the balance of the on the card. Every contractor I have ever worked with has presented me with the final invoice and lien releases, then I decide how to pay. A check then or my card or a company PO.

      If I didn’t pay at that point, then a lien would be in my future.

  17. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    This is the equivalent of shopping at Target and having them overcharge your card. You are in full right to issue a full or even a partial chargeback and pay the contract in the method you wish.

  18. Sparty999 says:

    I wouldn’t reverse the charges… but I would consider filing a lawsuit AFTER the project is done… don’t poop in the pool until you’re out of it!

  19. Bean Town Guy says:

    Contractor like everyone else are hard up for money and I bet this contractor (and others) does this regularly. You need to look at the fine print on your contract to answer your questions about charging the credit card. I assume all the work has been done. If you are not happy with the work or it is not done then you can open a dispute with the MC. You should contact the contractor and tell them what still need to be done and do this in writing. Once the work is done to your satisfaction then you can have the credit card company pay them. I don’t think there is much else you can do. I have heard a lot worst stories about contractors and I can understand why you are mad but I think you need to get the work finished and let it go. In the future use a check when dealing with contractors.

  20. xspook says:

    I can use my credit card account to create a one-time, specific amount credit card number. That may have helped here…

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      I’m intrigued – what card is that?

      • cupcake_ninja says:

        BoA and Citibank both have a “one time use card number” feature with their credit cards. The problem with that, however, is that most contractors want to see the card…at least the ones that bill you after the work is done and take the payment in person. Since the OP was giving the cc number over the phone he could have used a one time use number. Unfortunately, not enough card issuers utilize this feature.

        • BBBB says:

          “BoA and Citibank both have a “one time use card number” feature with their credit cards.”

          And Discover has one merchant numbers (their description is confusing). These allow for multiple purchases from one merchant, but prevents the number from being used if the number is passed to a “marketing partner” or the database is stolen.

          I use these and for a one time purchase I watch for the charge to post and then cancel that number.

  21. Velifer says:

    Bwahahahaha, hahahahahahaha haha *gasp* hahahaha… *pant* *pant* …hahahahaha…

    Ok, any contractor wanting a down payment for such a small job is a shyster. They should be in business long enough and have enough resources (and credit) to buy the materials and make payroll until the job is completed as per the contract and you pay them.

    The only leverage a homeowner has over a contractor is coin. Don’t come off ANY until the job is done to the contract specs. (Now, understand the importance of a clear and detailed contract!)

  22. sirwired says:

    This was totally unlawful. However, I’m not sure what you can do about it if the work has, indeed, been performed. The only thing I can think of is to try and find out who their merchant bank is and report the incident to them. Maybe visa.com has a place to complain too.

  23. aleck says:

    Although the contractor should have asked you to charge the remainder of the balance before doing it, you technically don’t have grounds for a chargeback. If you approved the additional material and are satisfied with the delivered product, what exactly do you want the contractor to do?

  24. Gulliver says:

    Chargebacks and all other forms of not paying will result in a mechanics lien. This could be a major problem in the future. Check the contract. If you are currently happy with the work, then you chalk it up to a bad experience and possibly negotiate or sue for any damages. You might be able to get some interest or any over charge fees, but realistically it would probably not be worth the time. I would make sure every person I know is warned about this contractor, and since it seems there is a lot of contractor work going on, learn the lesson.
    These types of contracts should NEVER be done over the phone. A signed contract specifying the date of each payment should be written. Deposit (standard practice) upon signature. By the way, if you buy materials yourself you will likely pay more than a contractor would. Demand an invoice for these items, since YOU purchased them. There should be zero mark up. Second payment could be added if the job is a long term project (a 6 month kitchen redo) to help offset the labor costs at that point. Final payment should be with held until the final punch list is completed to your satisfaction. A signature authorizing this should be built into the contract.
    A line of credit card, or temporary number can work to avoid paying too much in advance. I also suggest talking to friends and neighbors about contractors they have used. As much as bad word of mouth can hurt a company, I think people owe it to those they are happy with, to spread that word as well.
    It is too easy on a site like this to only point out where not to shop, but people actually need a better answer than “I make mine at home” or “you screwed up by using (Comcast, DirectV, BOA, CHase, Best Buy etc)

  25. wackydan says:

    First… Unless you are putting on an addition to your house that costs $20k, you never pay a contractor up front.

    When I had my roof done… Total of $3200, I didn’t pay for any of it until the work was done.

    When I had some dry wall work done — total of $1100… I didn’t pay till the work was done.

    When I had the landscape curbing done… same.

    When I had the new concrete walks poured….same.

    When I had a $7000 HVAC system done, I used a major area contractor/servicer and only had to provide a credit card as validation I could pay the full amount.

    Rule of thumb is that on mostly labor intensive projects you shouldn’t be asked to pay jack until the job is completely done. On major remodels costing a lot in high end materials or volume of materials, you pay for part of the materials only.

    You may win against a contractor in small claims, but you will never, ever see a dime from them if they take the money and run, or if the job was botched.

    • MwMike says:

      I just had windows done at my house. The guy was smaller, gave me a very good price, but wanted money ahead of time towards the materials. Considering that these were all custom sized windows, and he would be out quite a bit of money if I changed my mind after giving the OK to have them made by the manufacturer, I have no problem understanding wanting money ahead of time.

      Material was the major cost in this job. If it is something labor intense with less materials, painting, demolition, etc. I could then see not needing to put up any money.

      • JiminyChristmas says:

        If I had been in this situation I would not have paid up front. I would have offered to sign something saying I understood that once the custom windows were ordered they were not refundable and that I would bear the costs of any changes I initiated. A reputable contractor should have the cash flow or credit to be able to start your job without seeking an initial payment from you.

        Another option might have been for you to make payment directly to the window supplier. I’m not sure if it’s the same in all 50 states, but where I live the law specifically reserves the right of homeowners to pay suppliers directly. That way, your money goes straight to the supplier and the materials are delivered directly to your house. You are paying for things you can be sure belong to you. You won’t run the risk that the contractor is using your payment for “materials” when he’s actually using it to pay off some other debt, after which he will be scrounging for money to really start your job.

        • MwMike says:

          Yep, I did figure this guy was having a cash flow problem, I was thinking that is why the price was 30%-40% off of what every one else quoted. I knew he was hungry.

          The biggest window place for south suburbs of Chicago is a few blocks from my house. I’m sure they wouldn’t have needed anything but a signature, but that convenience would have cost me 5k more.

          I did think about it and knew I was taking a little risk, but he didn’t want too much down, I knew where the guy lived, and I knew of three other jobs he did in the neighborhood. I took a shot and fortunately it worked out very well for me.

  26. Caffinehog says:

    It probably was unlawful, but the burden of proof may well be on you. You’re probably entitled to damages if any were done. If there were no damages, then the’ll probably get off scott free.

  27. mikells43 says:

    my friend has a saying for situations and people who do silly things like this, he sings “DUMB, DUMB, DUMB, DUMB” in a sequence to form a song. id do that if i was in person but im not . so yea……

    1 you get an estimate, 2 you pay with a check if they want a down pmt for “costs of supplies”. you never give them a credit card over the phone cause its ur word against theirs. and there going to say u authed it.

    so take it on the chin as a lesson learned, cause any good contractor would give you an ‘estimate’ and they are pretty close to what they are going to need to do the job, some even tell u to go to lowes and buy ur supplies and put it on hold for the company that way u paid for it already. but this is just assanine on both partys. and the company is going to say you authed it so ur pretty much sauced, cause usually when paying to do contracting work the “good ones” dont do this, and the scammers know how to scam and what they are doing , so learn from it and move on that way next time u can be a better customer and not just hand out free money.