Dear Consumer Ed:
Two months ago I paid a cement contractor to do a job for me. The job has not been done and he does not take my calls anymore. I was given excuses for why he couldn't start, until I requested a refund. What recourse do I have?
Consumer Ed says:
The first thing you need to do is look at the agreement that you entered into with your contractor; its terms should spell out specified start and completion dates, cancellations, refunds, and any other provisions addressing the rights and obligations of the parties. However, even if you had only a verbal agreement, you likely still have recourse against the contractor.
If the contractor has or is required to have a state license under Georgia law, you may be able to prompt his cooperation by reporting him to the State Licensing Board for Residential and General Contractors, a part of the Georgia Secretary of State. While not all construction occupations require a state contractor’s license, a great number of activities that require building permits do. Notably, though, the state allows licensure exemptions for a wide range of specialty contractors, like roofers, painters, brick masons, and even those who focus on concrete work. A complete list of specialty contractor services may be found with the Secretary of State at www.sos.ga.gov/plb or the Homebuilders Association of Georgia at www.hbag.org.
Further, and perhaps more importantly, most local county or city jurisdictions require all contractors – whether state licensed or not – to have a local license, such as a business license required for tax purposes. So, some specialty contractors may be required to hold a local license.
Also, local ordinances may require a contractor to obtain a building permit in the process of performing such work. You can check with your county or city government to make sure your contractor has the proper local licensing and you can report him to the proper authority if he is operating without the required state or local license.
If you cannot resolve the problem directly with the contractor, there are several options available to you. If you paid with a credit card, you may be able to dispute the charge with your credit card provider. You can also contact the Better Business Bureau to see if they will help mediate a solution between you and the contractor.
Additionally, you may want to consult a private attorney to determine the extent of legal options available to you. To find a lawyer in your area, contact your local bar association. A list of the bar associations in Georgia can be found on the State Bar of Georgia’s website: www.gabar.org.
Finally, you can submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov, or to the Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Unit at www.consumer.ga.gov or by calling 404-651-8600.
If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!