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Thread: Advice Please

  1. #1
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    Advice Please

    This may be the wrong category if so I apologize. Anyway, the problem is I had a client who ordered some fence braces (8) from me. I cut all the pieces and tacked one up. I sent him a picture just so he could see the bar spacing. Which is 13" apart like he told me. Then he calls me and says "You used square pipe?" Now the thing is, he ordered it square! We had discussed the project several times and each time he asked me what I would use. I told him I had some 2" square pipe on hand and that it would be cheaper to use that. He said it would work fine several times in each conversation. Now he has an issue with it being square. I didn't receive a down payment as I thought he was a friend but I was counting on this check to make ends meet this month. Is he bound by the verbal contract to go ahead and buy them anyway? I know in the future now to get down payments even from friends but my question is what do I do NOW. Especially after I have the expense in it already?
    Quality is our policy.

  2. #2
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    Re: Advice Please

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    Quality is our policy.

  3. #3
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    Re: Advice Please

    Chalk this up as a lesson from the cruel teacher at times experience. A verbal contract means nothing.

    The only thing to do now is get down payments on any project before it's started. Actually a better idea is to require 3 payments. Start, middle, and completion.

  4. #4
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    Re: Advice Please

    verbal contract? thats a laugh.

    i take half up front (or the cost of materials if its more than half) ... that way if something happens im not out any actual cost other than my time.

    i would discuss it with him and tell him you bought the material that he confirmed. If he balks on it say you can make a change in material but the extra expense will be added to the cost and it needs to be paid for up front.

    here is the lesson i have learned more than once (and every time it was the hard way) ... people WILL screw you out of every penny they can. I have never once had someone offer to pay me more than i quoted but about 99% try to talk me down.
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  5. #5
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    Re: Advice Please

    In the future, use the term "square tube", not "square pipe". Not much difference, but people will hear "pipe" and think round. But if he approved square and even saw a picture, I'd shame him into taking it. Much more fitting dealing with round pipe/tube.

    Maybe you could mention that square is much stronger and stiffer in two directions than round - vertical and horizontal.
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  6. #6
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    Re: Advice Please

    Get everything in writing, have design drawing ok'd and signed,get material money upfront .

  7. #7
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    Re: Advice Please

    Many "friends" are merely just an acquaintance.

    Depending on how well you know this gentleman and the extent of your "friendship", I'd suggest sitting down over a cup of coffee and see what you can work out.

    I agree with Oldendum - "pipe" is round and the square stuff is "tube" to avoid any future confusion.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Advice Please

    I'd agree with the need to have someone sign off on a drawing or mock up, especially if you are going to make multiple units. That way any changes can be made, fit up checked etc before too much time materials are expended in the wrong direction. I've had plenty of jobs where verbal instructions mean one thing to one person and something completely different to someone else.

    As far as payment, I do it several ways. On big jobs or where I have to lay out substantial amounts up front, I want at least the materials covered in an initial payment. Then it's usually 1/2 the labor on a 2nd payment, and the rest on completion. For smaller jobs where I'm often in and out same day, it's usually payment on completion just for simplicity, but materials are usually less than $100 in these cases. Much more and I usually want some sort of advance to cover materials.
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  9. #9
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    Re: Advice Please

    Being in Kansas you should be able to throw those up on CL or sit them in the front yard and get rid of them pretty easily. I'd make them round as he requested and move on with life.
    "You can't out puke a buzzard"

  10. #10
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    Re: Advice Please

    For a fence brace, I would think square tube would possibly be better, structurally. Sell that idea to him.
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  11. #11
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    Re: Advice Please

    Sometimes a actual visual aid is required. Doesn't mater if it is pipe, square tube, rectangular tube, angle , channel , or whatever. People today THINK they know what you mean but just don't understand. Good thing it wasn't stainless steel.
    Depending on the type of fence the square will give better support as stated and a wider flat surface to fasten too.

  12. #12
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    Re: Advice Please

    there are a lot of wonderful suggestions in the above-mentioned posts most of them are pretty spot on. verbal agreements are not necessarily invalidated especially when you head to small claims court. I would try to work this out amicably as a lot of the other posters have suggested. a lot of things could be worked out over a cup of coffee in a face-to-face meeting. There is an option of going to Small Claims Court and there is a chance you would prevail. I mention this as an option but would recommend against it. Most people build their businesses based on word-of-mouth. If you sour this relationship you will not only lose out on this job but potentially many more. I would take it on the chin and as a learning experience and appropriate the material towards another project. That's my two cents

  13. #13
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    Re: Advice Please

    Quote Originally Posted by eagleman193 View Post
    This may be the wrong category if so I apologize. Anyway, the problem is I had a client who ordered some fence braces (8) from me. I cut all the pieces and tacked one up. I sent him a picture just so he could see the bar spacing. Which is 13" apart like he told me. Then he calls me and says "You used square pipe?" Now the thing is, he ordered it square! We had discussed the project several times and each time he asked me what I would use. I told him I had some 2" square pipe on hand and that it would be cheaper to use that. He said it would work fine several times in each conversation. Now he has an issue with it being square. I didn't receive a down payment as I thought he was a friend but I was counting on this check to make ends meet this month. Is he bound by the verbal contract to go ahead and buy them anyway? I know in the future now to get down payments even from friends but my question is what do I do NOW. Especially after I have the expense in it already?
    I would suggest after speaking about the job verbally, I would send an email as a follow up so you would have a hard record. I never would proceed on only a verbal request.

  14. #14
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    Re: Advice Please

    This is why I insist on customers always stopping by my shop before I build a project for them! We all know what we're talking about because we talk the language all the time! Not so with the average person. I like to have scraps so I can show them what I'm going to use, and sketch things out on my bench with soapstone so there's no confusion. If I look at them and I see the deer in the headlights look I know I need to "dumb it down" another notch or two.

    But like already stated try to sell the idea to him by the fact it's 40% stronger than round and typically cheaper to work with to boot...

    Best of luck!!
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    Re: Advice Please

    Sketch and a deposit. Sometimes I never see customer. We build and ship.

    Good luck with this guy. Perhaps he is just yanking your chain.
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    Re: Advice Please

    Quote Originally Posted by yakdung View Post
    I would send an email as a follow up so you would have a hard record.
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  17. #17
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    Re: Advice Please

    Where I live, a verbal contract is a legal binding contract. Problem is; it comes down to he said she said. Without documentation your outa luck. It aint worth it. Walk away.

  18. #18
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    Re: Advice Please

    If you want him as a customer, he needs to be happy with your work. It doesn't sound like he understood that you were trying to save him money by using materials that you had on hand. If he paid for the materials up front, maybe he would have.

  19. #19
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    Re: Advice Please

    The man came through and decided to take them after I explained that it was stronger. In fact he ordered more! I appreciate the advice fellas!
    Quality is our policy.

  20. #20
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    Re: Advice Please

    make sure you get down payment for materials on this next batch before he does the same thing again.
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  21. #21
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    Re: Advice Please

    Now tell the guy that the price you quoted was for ROUND PIPE and NOT SQUARE TUBE, a price increase is coming.

  22. #22
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    Re: Advice Please

    As everyone else said, get it in writing. And if they want to change something, do a change order for the original design. Glad it all worked out.
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    Re: Advice Please

    Quote Originally Posted by BD1 View Post
    Now tell the guy that the price you quoted was for ROUND PIPE and NOT SQUARE TUBE, a price increase is coming.
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  24. #24
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    Re: Advice Please

    A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on...


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  25. #25
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    Re: Advice Please

    Quote Originally Posted by Rockdrill View Post
    A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on...


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    Niether is a writen one. It is only as good as the money behind it to in force it. I do all my work by verbal agreement. My customers know they only have on chance to mess with me. It is part of the cost of doing business . On large jobs I do bill for material as soon as it is ordered. My labor is not charged until the customer is satisfied with the outcome. I work by the hour and they know changes will cost them money. All I do is buisiness to business. With a walk in customer I want to be paid before my time is invested. Most do not come back after I quote a price. They all think I should work for $10 hr. Or they just have no Idea how expensive it is to do welding. I have found life to be easier to just work buisiness to business.

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