Bait & Switch [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


View Full Version : Bait & Switch

12-22-2006, 02:30 PM
These last few weeks I have been doing a commercial project, for a huge GC, 50 miles north of here. It is a private gym with two locker rooms showers etc. Anyway, I don't work in this area, I don't do commercial, and I don't work for any GC other than the two I have worked with for years.
A customer whose home we remodeled two years ago built this gym and offered us the tile work no questions asked. As I went to pick up the tile from the tile shop I got a call from the GC building the building and they said we need copies of insurance, WC, tax ID etc. What the hey? I'm working for my client not you. They want a contract so I fax them one. We get on the jobsite first day and the sup comes down and says your paper work was fine except for one detail, we don't give down money. I told my helper to stop work. I discussed the issue with the sup and told him I wanted payment in full immediately upon completion. He counter that they have billing cycles, I couldn't bill until the work was complete, and then they hold 25% until the customer has signed off and taken legal possession of the building. Nope, were outa here dude, sorry can't help you. Myself and helper began to pick up our tools. The sup told us to hold on, came back and agreed to payment in full upon completion. Mt client is in California until after the first of the year and I was left here dealing with this sup from this company that builds hotel chains across the west. I feel like my client just gave me the work and switched me off to the builder. We were supposed to be out on wednesday, and we were done Sunday, three days ahead of schedule, work looks great according to the GC. So now I am sitting here waiting for the cabinets turtles to get the counters in so we can finish a 5' backsplash. The GC is holding back 3600.00 until the splash is done. This whole thing is ridiculous, I really am unhappy with my client for leaving me with this mess. I will NEVER EVER work like this again, I'm a fish out of water here, and getting paid is a freakin nightmare.

Sponsored Links

12-22-2006, 02:53 PM
Good builders is an oxymoron I know ;) , but good builders operate on payment cycles, they do need "all the paperwork" to issue checks, and they do hold certain percentages after completion. That's the trade. The big boys don't care because they know theres alot of tradesman saying either, "i need the work" or the more dangerous, "hey, i would like to be able to say i worked on that hotel, or that gym, restaurant, etc."

The guy who "got you into this mess" doesn't play in all the reindeer games, he just says the word, and things are done. If he was in town, I would guess he could get them to hook you up straightaway, but out of town, he's not going to. But remember in his mind he probably thinks you owe him for giving you the work.

Once again, the little guys learn that the big boys can be a dangerous thing. Did you notice how many ants you stepped on last year?

12-22-2006, 03:22 PM
There is nothing bait and switch about it. The GC didn't change the terms. They are probably giving you the same terms they give every sub on every job. You didn't do your homework and know the terms going in. That is your fault.

Bill Vincent
12-22-2006, 04:03 PM
He wasn't originally supposed to be the GC's sub. That's what he saying-- THAT was the bait and switch, and I'd be pissed, too.

12-22-2006, 05:43 PM
Certainly wouldn't be happy either. Sounded to me like the owner was going to keep the tile portios out of the General Contract all together. Seeing as you went through the material thing far enough to actually pickup, deliver, and begin to install, then you either had the material paid for by the owner or you were going to bill him for it.

Even working regular residential jobs can get to the down payment / draw / balance payments. My wife hates when we have to ' ride out ' those bigger jobs that somehow seem to take forever to finish on account of some plummer or lazy trim carpenter. I wouldn't be happy about $3600 being held up by a stupid 5' splash though :crap: $1000 is too much.

12-22-2006, 05:49 PM
Uhmm, contact the owner and have them deal with it. No fun but it's worked for me.

12-22-2006, 05:49 PM
you have every right to be pissed. But, I'd scream and shout for ten minutes, then say screw it, and get over it. If it makes you feel better, your not the first this happened to. :shake: I had a small job ($6000) that got screwy like that last month. Got started, did the tearout, and the GC left town for two weeks, and sent painters in with sprayers. The house was in a paint fog for two weeks. I was out of work for a week. (landed a week long job last minute) When GC got back to town, he called me and said. "ok, we are ready for you, sorry bout the painters." :bang: Told him good luck, and went my way. He couldnt understand the concept of a schedule!!!

12-22-2006, 05:52 PM
Years ago I did some work for another building contractor,
on a request from a third party, who I trusted. It was a kitchen installation in a new home, with a tile floor and backsplash .Materials were all there on the jobsite, it was *labor only*.
Price was agreed upon in advance.
Needless to say, even with a signed contract, indicating payment in full by completion date, he started ducking me every way he could.
Finally after 2 weeks of being patient, I took two laborers with me, on a Friday nite at 5 pm, we went in there and dismantled everything right back down to bare sheetrock and subfloor in about 3 hours.
It took him 3 months to finally get another guy over to put it back togethor again.Nobody wanted to touch it, His CO was not issued on time for the closing , the owner couldn't move in,the interest payments kept rolling in on him.
I never got paid of course, but to this day I feel as if I got paid twice what it was worth. Last time I heard from my friend, who had asked me to do the job originally, He told me that the GC'S wife had left him for the plumber. :D

Tool Guy - Kg
12-22-2006, 06:22 PM
I don't blame you for being upset.

But it's entirely possible the owner was thinking of your best interest here, but the GC decided to do things "their way" while the owners were out of town. I'd hold off on being upset with the owners for another week until you see for sure how it went sour. You'll always have time to be upset later, but you can't take back time you wasted being upset with someone who wasn't to blame. Hang on for a week, I say. :)

Tom Tee
12-22-2006, 06:31 PM

How did you get awy with that? I mean your kinda right, but around here the guys who did the same thing were hauled in b/4 a small claims court by the HO and had to pay for a redo. The court then made the HO pay for the redo.

I think it's great you got away w/ it, but..........whew!

My condition for first time builder jobs is that the first house is done 100% prepaid. They came to me because they for one reason or another trusted me and my ability so therefore there was to be no question on the job.

The only remaining question was the builders ability to pay my bill. I've gotten some real unusual comments from these guys! But I have always gotten respect and my money.


12-22-2006, 06:44 PM
I've learned not to fall for those "no questions asked" jobs. I make sure and give the people numbers on the costs and I find out their pay schedule before starting a job. ;)

12-22-2006, 08:34 PM
Tom tee;
Well , I got a hold of all the suppliers around in my area , and it turned it that he was into them for a lot more money than he owed me. The consistent story was that he was a deadbeat who spaced out payments as long as he could.So ,I realized that I was going to get screwed anyways. He was *Robbing Peter to pay Paul* so to speak. I could have slapped a mechanic's lien on the house but that wouldn't have given me the satisfaction I now wanted, the money no longer interested me. After several attemts at trying to corner him, I gave up, and just *undid* my work.
In hindsight, yes I suppose I could have waited more, but chances are he would have beat me for the money too. I knew he was in WAY over his head with money and he wasn't about to go chasing me when he had much bigger problems than me.Turns out that he got what he deserved.A lot of contractors I talked to at the time, reaffirmed what I had heard from the various credit dept. people.
He treated people like dirt, including his wife,,so I gave him a taste of his own medicine.

Tom Tee
12-22-2006, 10:16 PM
Another stunt some guys pull is to pay you about 75-85% of the job and give you another job to start. Pay you most but not all of the 2nd job and give you a third and so on. Eventually you are 5k to 10k behind w/ no way of catching up in a short matter of time. You get discouraged and move on and then he starts on someone else.

Anyone got a deadbeat like this?

The biggest retailer in our local market has a slightly different twist on the above stunt. He simply looks at your bill and says noway can I pay this amount, here's 85% as payment in full. Lotta low self confidence kids just roll w/ the punches and on he goes. He's a local joke at the supply houses but onward he rolls.

Someone once said there is a sucker born everyday.


12-22-2006, 10:18 PM
the troubles I've seen. Yep, we all get are turn at the trough.

12-23-2006, 04:22 AM
*Someone once said there is a sucker born everyday.*

Phineas T. Barnum

(Barnum and Bailey Circus)

There's a sucker born every minute

12-23-2006, 04:52 AM
Well it's 3:30am and I just got home. Heres how it went down. Sup calls at 2pm and says cabinets are done, come in and finish. I roll on site at about 430pm. Sup comes over and says there is something he needs me to take care of. We walk in the locker room and he says the GC wants the tiles to the floor drain to be flat and just recess the drain. I say it ain't gonna happen, they pored the floor, and I sloped with an X accordingly. Sup gets P.O.ed and says "All you tile guys are a bunch of prima donnas". I take a step towards him, smile, and say: "Ya know, I'm getting real tired of your guys BS." He pulls acheck out of his pocket, waves it in my face, and says he guesses I don't wan't this. My clients friend, (partener in the gym) calls GC and she says it's ok, tile looks great. At this point I am seconds away from flat out decking this sup. Sups phone rings and GC authorizes him to give me the check and pay me to re-do tile as it is their fault. I'm like:" look dude, you guys had all week to mention the freakin drain, and you wait til Friday afternnon Christmas weekend? I can help you." Sup says fine and hands me a check for 3K less the our agreement. I ask what this BS is and he mumbles something about the next pay period. I throw the check in his face and say BS, get somebody else to finish, I'm packing my gear and I'll see you in court. I get my trailer loaded and my client from Cali calls on the cell and ask what the heck is going on. I explain everything, she ask me to wait before I leave. Twenty minutes later the GC himself comes over, hands me another check for the full amount, politely ask me to schedule a convienant time to come back and re-do the drain at their compensation. I don't know what me client said, but bless her little heart. Got my check sittin on the table. :clap1:

12-23-2006, 06:31 AM
Welcome to the World of Commercial Tile Installations

The Learning Curve is VERY HIGH............It can be Painful to the little guy who is not prepared for it.

If you are going to play in the commercial venue you need to be financially capable of doing so.
This means
Liability Insurance
Commercial Vehicle Insurance
Unemployment Insurance
Workmans Comp Insurance
And the capability to make Payroll and carry a GC for up to 60 days after a projects completion on the full contract, and a 5% performance holdback for up to 1 year from completing the Punch List.

The trade off-------BIG OPEN AREA"S and A Generally Less critical final inspection, not to mention some very nice 5 and 6 figure contracts depending on location.
Bidding can get really tight and contract wording needs to include EVERYTHING!!

Theres nice work to be had though in the commercial Venue!!

12-23-2006, 07:37 AM
better get that check in the bank, immediately.....................before that gc has second thoughts

Tom Tee
12-23-2006, 07:46 AM
I do not care what kind of customer smile or what prevailing circumstances bid me fairwell from the job, every check gets walked directly to the bank!

Never sit on a potential second thought.


12-23-2006, 07:55 AM
Hope his banks are open today. Any customer that I have concerns with (not very many) I take the check imm. to "their" bank and cash it.

12-23-2006, 10:28 AM
I'm not even a pro and I woulda left a smoke trail on the way to the GC's bank. Hope you got it cashed pronto.

Bill Vincent
12-23-2006, 11:55 AM
Another stunt some guys pull is to pay you about 75-85% of the job and give you another job to start. Pay you most but not all of the 2nd job and give you a third and so on. Eventually you are 5k to 10k behind w/ no way of catching up in a short matter of time. You get discouraged and move on and then he starts on someone else.

Anyone got a deadbeat like this?

That's a good part of what sunk my family's union company in Connecticut. There was a contractor out of Bridgeport whose founder had grown up with my grandfather in the same village in Italy. They both came over on the boat together, and our families were bigtime intertwined. The short story is that they hit bigtime hard times in the late 80's and between 3 dofferent projects, went under owing us just over $750K. We had one more claim chapter 11 owing us 1.4 MILLION, of which we saw 30 cents on the dollar. The part that sucks is that this second contractor is STILL IN BUSINESS in Ridgefield!

This is why I'm happy to keep my operation down to just myself and my son, and maybe one or two more people. You start getting big, and you can make alot of money....real fast. You can also LOSE alot of money... just as fast, and sometimes, not have any control over it.

12-23-2006, 02:30 PM
You start getting big, and you can make alot of money....real fast. You can also LOSE alot of money... just as fast, and sometimes, not have any control over it.

Bill.........Are you a :sheep: or a Wolf ;) :yeah:

12-23-2006, 02:41 PM
I have zero desire to do commercial work, I used to do a lot of it but that was years ago in the midwest. I know all the ins and outs of comercial and big GC's. That was my original beef, that I ended up subbing through the big GC. It's worked out, the sup even brought over food from their christmas party last night and apologized profusely. The sup flat out said they were wrong across the board. Drains were their fault, and my insurance papers, WC etc was muffed by their office personel. The bottom line is that I do custom residential, and I have as much work as I want, no desire to do commercial. I played two years of semi-pro football and just gave that up this year. I was 35 when I went to open try outs and now I'm 37, that two years tore me up. Now, a slow and steady pace is what I'm after, the body needs to be taken care of, and that is hard to get in commercial work. BTW, if your 35 and can play ball, think twice, trust me 35 is too old to go back to playing football.

12-23-2006, 02:56 PM
Get on the horn to California. :complain:

Bill Vincent
12-23-2006, 05:34 PM
Todd-- I did the sleepless nights praying that we'd have enough cash to make payroll. That's okay-- I'll let you tycoons have the big work. :)

Lots more fun doing the custom stuff, anyway. :)

12-23-2006, 08:25 PM
I'm with Bill and Muley, don't want anything to do with commercial work. If new custom works runs out, there are thousands of sheetrock showers falling down needing to be replaced. :)