Shoddy work in my absence

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Shoddy work in my absence

Post by Kamazon on Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:42 pm

I've just had a new Microstation installed to replace my non-conforming fosse septique. The (English) company I chose seemed bona fide. They also offer the whole package, submitting plans and liaising with SPANC etc - which was why I chose them.

I had to pay for the materials up-front, and until then communication had been quite good. A date was 'pencilled in' in anticipation of the plans being passed, on a date when I would be at my property. Unfortunately, the plans were apparently not passed in time and I had to return to the UK. I emailed the company to ask whether it would best if the installation was postponed until I could be at my property again. My sister lives close by, and was available to open the facilities for them, but I would have preferred to have been present myself. I heard nothing in reply and assumed the job had been put on hold.

The following week, Veolia emptied the existing fosse - this was arranged by the company I had employed, but they didn't let me know - in fact, the first thing I knew that they had started work was the morning they announced they were on my land and needed access to the water and electricity.

I wasn't too worried; there were advantages to not being on site and I trusted them to do a good job. They contacted me to say they'd run out of time to lay the cobbles back in the courtyard, but would do so as soon as they returned from holiday. They left the key, but failed to tell me or my sister where it was. The ventilation pipe (about 5 metres tall) was not attached to the wall and left swaying in the wind. They didn't tell me about that. Later, the Director told me this was because they didn't have electricity to attach it. They did, and, in any case, has he never heard of cordless tools? There were other issues with the installation that I won't bore you with, but the whole effect was of a complete lack of care for their client's property. They did not return immediately to finish the courtyard, and by the time they did there was a problem with a pod of the Microstation lifting out of the ground. I wouldn't have had too much of an issue with this - sometimes these things happen - but THEY DID NOT TELL ME THERE WAS A PROBLEM. Apparently, they went back on my land with another 3 tonne of cement and lifted the pod before re-seating it. The Director left his employees to level the area. Because the microstation has been set too high, somebody made the decision to pilfer topsoil and turf from other parts of my garden which were nowhere near the installation site, and fling it around the pods. They ran over young trees and plants, and dug up others. A grassy mound by my pond, which was a mini Nature Reserve, was completely obliterated, along with any toads or salamanders I'd put in there. They even took a chunk out of my weed heap and redistributed brambles and weeds - which I've spent days removing - around the garden . My field was not immaculate, I grant you - it was quite overgrown in parts - but after they'd finished with it, it looked like the Somme. I arrived at my property after a 14 hour journey (on my own) expecting only to find a mess in the courtyard. It was most distressing to discover virtually every corner of my land had been wrecked! After waiting for 2 weeks, the Director finally came out to my property. He apologised for the mess and appeared to commiserate. I thought he sympathised with my reluctance to allow them to come back on my land 'to put things right' (I know French Law says they should do that, but I don't see why a private agreement cannot be reached where both parties can move on). He appeared to agree to compensation via Insurance in the form of a refund of the labour costs - which I had stupidly paid from the UK before returning to assess the job.

Now he is insisting that he agreed to no such thing, and that I have to let him back on my land - again - to finish a job he should've finished in mid September. His emails are becoming increasingly aggressive (I have to admit to not being particularly friendly myself) and I REALLY do not want to allow them back. I want a cash payment so that I can employ someone else to fix the mess. I'm prepared to go the legal route, with a French solicitor, but someone has told me that I should write a letter of complaint to the Compteur de Metier? I don't speak good French, so will need to find a bilingual solicitor and someone to translate letters for me.

If anyone can give me any advice on how to proceed (I'm near Saint Sulpice Les Feuilles) I'd be really grateful. I've never been in this situation before and am (normally) completely non-confrontational. This situation has completely ruined my November and I'm hoping someone out there can throw me a lifeline! I didn't want to play the 'single helpless woman on her own' card - but there, now I have! Wink

Kamazon

Posts : 4
Join date : 2017-11-27
Age : 56
Location : Saint Sulpice Les Feuilles

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Re: Shoddy work in my absence

Post by Myriam on Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:00 pm

First of all, for a comany to be bona fide in France, they are required to have a SIRET number and insurance. Without that, you will not have a leg to stand on legally. If all that is in order, you need an Assurance Juridique to take them to court. If you don't, you may pay more in legal fees than you are gaining.
Given all the above is in order, you will proof of the situation in your garden before and after the works, ie. pictures and anything the Director has put in writing, and even so, your case will be difficult to prove. You should not have paid the labour costs until after inspection of the works.
The best solution would be a compromise and NOT a cash payment. Try to reason with him to come to some kind of a solution and take someone impartial with you as a witness.
These firms often take advantage of the fact that you don't speak French well enough to employ a French firm. Be careful and take care. Bon courage!
In future it may be wise to employ a French firm which is recommended by the mairie or local people, have someone at hand who speaks good enough French and get them to write a detailed devis (estimate) including completion dates and costs, before you commit yourself.
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Myriam

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Re: Shoddy work in my absence

Post by Kamazon on Fri Dec 08, 2017 8:28 am

Thank you, Myriam. I paid for the labour because I was in the UK and they sent me the invoice (contrary to advice on their own website). I don't like being 'in debt', and I still trusted that they had done/were going to do the job they had promised. I didn't know when I was going to return to France. Although he says he is prepared to 'put things right', the standard of his work is so poor that I will still be left with a mess to clear up; I'd prefer him to pay me to do a proper job! However, I realise this is unlikely to happen now. Yesterday I went to see an Avocat in Limoges and he has advised me on how to proceed, in the face of this company's aggressive response to my complaint.
I've learned a valuable lesson, but it's such a shame that one can't even trust ones own country men to respect ones land and property!

Kamazon

Posts : 4
Join date : 2017-11-27
Age : 56
Location : Saint Sulpice Les Feuilles

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Re: Shoddy work in my absence

Post by Myriam on Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:23 pm

You learned your lesson and that's the best way to look at it. Next time you will know not to trust any company to carry out works when you're not there, unless they have been recommended by local people and with someone there at the spot to oversee the works when you are not there.

Whilst in France or any other foreign country for that matter, you will have to compromise to come to the best result without too much hastle Wink !

It also shows how important it is to learn to speak French, because without it you will have to compromise a lot more.
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Myriam

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Re: Shoddy work in my absence

Post by Kamazon on Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:32 pm

I actually didn't give them permission to start in my absence; they knew I wanted to be there, but the first I knew of it they were already on my land. When my sister arrived, they had already dug a big hole - I felt I had no choice but to allow them to continue. Their website and advertising is very impressive; I had no idea they were cowboys Sad

Kamazon

Posts : 4
Join date : 2017-11-27
Age : 56
Location : Saint Sulpice Les Feuilles

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