Brian, you surprise me....you don't actually believe that do you?
From what I have learned since I have been here.....easier said than done...making claims against these insurance companies. I'm sure there are exceptions as they were with "the ten year man" back in the UK but you have a struggle....again, from what I have found out.
Thus lose your ten year warranty that a formal arrangement should ensure for even the smallest job.
The only time I have ever agreed to pay a deposit on signing a contract was when the firm had to order expensive equipment at the outset. Otherwise, 30% about one-third through the project seems reasonable.
Don't ever, ever, ever fall for that one, especially since such "speciual" prices are usually much higher. As for the tax deductions, we've just had photovoltaique installed WITHOUT the alleged government assistance and it cost us about 6,000 less!
In most cases, yes. For smaller jobs, you can always suggest paying in cash...
I have a certain amount of sympathy with your position here in France and I may well operate a similar system if I had to trade here.
That said....in the UK I invoiced for materials when they were delivered to site...normally the first week obviously. But an interim payment, ie wages and the like would not be due for at least another 2 weeks after starting. Having suppliers accounts as I did, I didn't have to pay for the materials until the end of the following month. So, wages in the meantime were covered.....depending on the balance of material/labour obviously.
I have chosen not to start a business here in France because of the punitive tax regime that exists. I can't see it changing any time soon either..."malheureusement". The high taxes are the reasons that lay behind the "need" to ask for up front payments. Simply put.....you have to pay tax even if you don't earn....I haven't yet got my head round this......and probably never will....
A little off topic but do you always have to have a devis and give an upfront cheque for building work and the like?
The ruin opposite our house was due to be demolished during 'August or September'. nothing happened. The property owner was here in September, so contacted the contractor. He got a firm date for 15 October. Still no sign. He has made his down payment, the final bill will be assessed on what the demolition company can make from recovered stone particularly window and door lintels, corner stones and such valuable cut stones. Apparently the demolition company are now asking for a further payment. They are real, we know them and our maire knows the owner and recommended them. The builder who is looking after it this end has had umpteen calls from the owner asking him to demand the work is done or the down payment back but has several times explained that the devis is a contract and the deposit would be lost. That is simply the way the cookie crumbles here,
We have talked to our maire who wants it down as much as we do, particularly since road repair work has been postponed until it is done. The ruin is unstable and beginning to fall, sometimes leaving large stones on the road which fortunately does not have much traffic. However, if a vehicle or person is damaged the commune bears responsibility because they asked for the demolition. If nothing happens by, I think, the end of next month then the maire may order demolition. The owner is duty bound to have it pulled down but if the contractor does not show, then another one will be ordered. The devis, he tells us, will be lost then the owner will get the bill for the work from the mairie with administration costs added.
In short, a devis appears to be an unenforceable contract but if the contracting party defaults the contractor retains the down payment. The word 'fair' does not need to enter the negotiation!
I have over the years dealt with many artisans both English and French and in my experience if you approach this reasonably they (fingers crossed) will tear up the cheque. Talking straight and honestly will normally sort out most problems at the end the day. Tracy is absolutely right, however, and if you have fallen on someone determined to get your money, you haven't really got much chance.
Robert I have to disagree, if an atisan asks for up to 30 % a week before starting, or as I have often negociated, the day of beginnng work, I have always found this reasonable. We all know how difficult and expensive it can be running a business in France, and many perfectly good and reliable artisans run nearly on a hand to mouth basis. It's not even a question of being badly organised to have to do this, just staying competative and paying bills on time. Anyway I'm straying a little from another point I wanted to make.....
Robin, you have decided to do the work yourself, no problem with that, it can be extremely rewarding seeing through a project of any size yourself, but just one small warning. If the work covers anything vaguely structural or waterproofing/roofing, in fact any building work that isn't just asthetic, ie tiling/painting, think hard about not getting an insured (décennale)artisan on the job, as if you ever sell, of have a problem involving neighbours or visitors with this work, you will be liable. In the case of selling the house for example, if you sell after three years of works completion date, the remaining seven years must be guarenteed either by décennale or your pocket !! you can buy this insurance for your own work, but based on your qualifications and experience and is very expensive.
If the work is a spot of painting building a shed or something of the like, best of luck, I'm sure it'll be fine, bon courage !!
Be wary as there are some commission driven sales agents out there touting especially for windows, shutters door and of course insulation/wood burners. I have seen at least one example where a quote "had" to be accepted on the spot to benefit from a "special discount" and where even the discounted price was about double what you could actually get the work done for. "But never mind there are big tax deductions". Don't fall for such approaches and note that whilst you have a statutory right to cancel within a clearly defined period, it's pretty complicated to do so if your knowledge of French paperwork is less than perfect.
Ask the company for the cheque back, say you have big financial problems and that you won't be able to pay for the work. Most companies just return the cheque or tear it up, if you're unlucky, they'll hang on to it.....
I don't wish to cause offence but why on earth would you agree to the devis in the first place with no indication as to when the job would start. Presumably you have heard of the french reputation when it comes to getting the job done on time etc etc. I for one wouldn't dream of paying up front for anything.....I never asked it of my customers either. In my opinion it's a recipe for disaster.....sorry...just my opinion
Simple answer, as a legally binding contract you would lose your deposit, its a two way contract. Why have you changed your mind?