Friday, March 11, 2016

The Helpers

I hate drama. But sometimes I can't avoid it. And boy did I have drama last week with smoke pouring from every orifice in my stove and chimney. I shut 'er all down and jacked up house heat - well as jacked up as I can afford it as it costs a fortune out here on the Edge. Sweaters and thick socks are a blessing.

I had paid a guy, the guy who handled my chimney liner post chimney fire last year, a regular chimney contractor, to clean out the works the week before as it was all behaving rather badly, but everything to do with the fire was twice as bad after he left along with a fresh bonus of soot pouring down the freshly painted walls.

I texted him and he ignored me for a day and then said he might be in the neighbourhood in a few days and he'd check...

At that point my instincts kicked in and I just knew I could never have him back into my house again.

I posted my dilemma on Facebook, raising my SOS flag which always works out here and the following day Leo and his brother showed up with a borrowed ladder and long sticks. To cut to the chase after they had finished, this is the letter I sent off to the contractor:

Lxxxxxxxxxxxx:

I've had the work you did for me both in installing the chimney and in your recent “cleaning” of it checked out.

I have ascertained:

You failed to measure and install the chimney properly in that the stove pipe is far too short to meet the chimney or the top of the stove safely.

You used the wrong size screws on the chimney cap which needed replacing.

You failed to seat the lower stove pipe on the stove properly.

You failed to screw in the lower pipe to the stove itself.

You failed to fit the upper part of the stove-pipe into the chimney.

The stove had to be put on lifts to raise it as your measurements were 2” off.

In your so-called “cleaning” of a few weeks ago, you failed to re-install the cap of the chimney properly.

You also did not clean the chimney properly, there was a huge wedge of creosote still stuck in the lower part of the chimney which blocked it and smoke poured all through my house.

And underneath the top of the stove you had failed to remove any of the creosote lodged there.

In fact there was another whole bag of creosote taken out of the chimney and stove-pipes today.

I was told that you were criminally negligent in the work you had performed for me because of the smoke leaks coming into the house in which I could have died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

My walls and furniture are blackened and need repainting/cleaning because of your shoddy and appalling workmanship.

My power bills doubled while the stove was unusable.

Being an elderly senior on a fixed income I am shocked at your misrepresentation of yourself as a “professional” while taking such advantage of me.

I request that you refund me the total of $520 I have paid you for the original shoddy and incompetent installation ($400) and the subsequent non-cleaning ($120).

I heard back from him immediately wherein he apologised, agreed to his incompetence and shoddy workmanship and stated he would return all my money once he had been paid for a job he was currently on.

I'm not holding my breath. As I very nearly lost it forever.

But my Helpers?

They wouldn't take a penny for all the work they did and their assessment and correction of the problems.

And that's what I'm thinking about as I write this.

The Helpers.



25 comments:

  1. Can you take this clown to court and obtain a judgment for the money owed and make a complaint with whatever body licenses his ilk? I might visit a lawyer and have a chat...

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    1. Such matters operate completely differently here, E. I've had to adjust accordingly. I will file a claim ($50)and see where it goes but contractors are slippery as eels and change identities frequently. Throwing good money after bad is folly and I simply can't afford it.

      XO
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  2. WOW! That was really serious! He better come through with the money. I'm glad no material harm happened to you. It must have been frightening. Best, Lori

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    1. Thanks Lori, it would be nice to see compensation but I'm doubtful of this outcome so not holding my breath!

      XO
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  3. You were obviously very unlucky with the chancer who stung you for a totally bodged and almost fatal job. How did you find him? Was he recommended by someone? And how very fortunate that you live in a community of such helpful souls ready to put things right for nothing.

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    1. Yes, he was highly recommended - but there is possibly an addiction issue which changes everything....yes, I am truly fortunate Nick, I've never seen the like of this place :)

      XO
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  4. Thank god for the helpers! And I guess it's a lesson for all of us to double-check our contractors, to get personal recommendations, look at reviews on the internet, and ... do you have Angie's List where you are? We've had pretty good success with people we've found there.

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    1. I miss larger demographics Tom for what you describe. Here is it 1 or 2 degrees of separation and neighbours refer their rellies, etc. I've rarely been steered incorrectly but it happens.

      XO
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  5. Glad he at least acknowledged he was at fault. Hope you get your money back!

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  6. What a story! Reinforces my faith in humanity. And, more importantly, I like the way you handled the professional and I hope that the exchange will help him mend his ways apart from having to refund the $520.00.

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    1. I think he might think twice before he does it again Ramana, though if he's an addict, as I suspect, it might not.

      XO
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    2. I didn't want to mention it, but you may well be right.

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  7. OK, that makes the recent more-than-tripled amount of $110 monthly payment for life insurance that I told my broker I no longer wanted, which was withdrawn from my bank account anyway, seem like small potatoes. I doubt my money will be refunded, but I will no longer be doing business with that broker, who should've told me I needed to put something in writing and not just tell him over the phone. He had his chance!
    I'm amazed your "contractor" actually admitted to his ineptitude! That's rare. I hope he does refund your money. Maybe he'll surprise you (again, only this time in a good way).

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    1. So sorry to hear about your misfortune Kathy. It makes the honest ones more precious. And there are more honest, thank heavens!

      XO
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  8. You’re right not to hold your breath. But you could make life a touch uncomfortable for him? I expect his fame has spread since you employed then sacked him?

    Sorry about your crossroads. Me too. But I have no real choice. I must carry on. And, unlike you, I have no one to confide in. My religious son would probably come up with Jesus the saviour and my absent daughter would come up with a “pull yourself together” if she were still speaking to me.

    Sometimes life’s a bitch.

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    1. I hear ya Friko. I wouldn't rely on children for advice, they are too emotionally invested. I was so glad Daughter had been thinking along my lines though.

      Everyone knows everyone out here on the Edge so tearing him down is not an option.

      XO
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  9. How absolutely infuriating! Those pigs have probably already spent the money you gave them.

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    1. Like I mentioned above Hattie, I do believe addiction comes into play here.

      XO
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  10. Do you think any of your recent health problems could be caused by carbon monoxide? Sorry things have been so stressful for you.
    Carolyn

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    1. You know that never occurred to me, I though C01 was basically a death hit. I must google effect. Thank you Carolyn!

      XO
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  11. You said you "heard from" the incompetent contractor, so sounds like he phoned you. I would think you need what he said in writing to prove anything. Do they have small claims courts? Surely should be some way to get your money back as his word is hardly trustworthy. How wonderful your helpers came to your rescue.

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    1. Yes, he responded in writing, ye we have small claims, it costs $50 and a day in the city - a huge chunk of my time. And he hasn't got a fixed address, roams between here and Nova Scotia.

      XO
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  12. How awful. I hope that reply was in writing in case you need to take it further. You are so fortunate to have willing helpers close at hand.

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    1. Yes, it is, I'll drop him another line in a couple of weeks and suggest small ongoing payments.
      XO
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