Disappearing workman

We have a situation, and this is to ask if we have any recourse or way of forcing the issue. Or…do we, as our French friends say, just have to wait…

On Tuesday, it will be SIX WEEKS since the man who is to fit in our wood burner came when he told us it will be “2 / 3 weeks”. It will be FIVE WEEKS since we signed the devis.

Needless today, we still have no fire and he is not responding to calls or texts.

What can we do? Do we have any legal legs to stand on? Can we get out of the devis? Can we make him reduce the bill due to the fact that because of his tardiness, we are running up a huge electricity bill…the very reason we invested in the wood burner in the first place.

Needless to say, we are very fed up and not a little cross.

And cold.

what a shame you are still waiting, would offer the services of my hubby straight away, he can fit them no problem...we are just 3 1/2 hours away tho sorry! :(

Its not just the French the Brit artisans and i use the word artisan sparingly are as bad some time back we had kitchen units fitted and an aditional one made by an English cabinet maker within 12 months the doors didnt fit and swung open splits appeared down the sides to the extent daylight could be seen through them out,out came the man oh yes we have a problem i will take it way and make a new one 12 months later he appeared after threats of legal action and contacting the Brit newspaper after a half page advert was displayed that was apparently written by himself proporting to be a very satisfied customer, every excuse was used from his wife having to go back to the uk to see an ill relative then having a baby to his landlord selling his workshop from under him the new unit i had to finish off and tidy his work being of the standard of a second year apprentice
Back in the uk i wanted some plumbing work done simple job i hadnt got time to do i lost count of the guys that came out give an estimate which i excepted never to be seen again did the job myself eventually

Trying to pursue on insurance is not a cheap business either...the original guy who did our roof...8 years before we bought the house....refused to accept his workmanship was faulty and basically said...'sue me'....we sought legal advice and gave up in the end....worked out it would be cheaper to just get it done properly by someone who we could trust...though I have to say, I harbour feelings of ill will to the said original roofer.....if I thought it would work I would be in the process of sticking pins into a dolly effigy!

It still seems that they do not care whether you pursue the through their insurance.
We are still trying to get our architect to put right faulty workmanship. He is keen to do things on the basis that they want more work from him, so they will put things right for us. He is in the process of getting divorced and his personal life seems to be taking priority.

i was given the details of an organisation called UFC Que Choisir by my mairie when i asked for their advice re an electrician who is failing to finish work that i have mostly paid for. they are an independent consumer organisation a little like the CAB in uk i think. you pay an annual fee of 28 euros and can get unlimited advice. there are 2 in the lot - figeac and cahors - so i would expect similar in other departments. they know all the legal ins and outs and i found them very helpful.

I would think saying bu*ger off perfectly reasonable...if he has quoted 3 weeks and then doesnt come back he has broken the contract. Have to say this is why I provide a contract between us and a builder....they tell me the dates they will adhere to and I write in that if they do not comply with these dates we introduce a financial element (reduce what we pay them) or they can walk.....have to say...only done it twice in France and it worked both times...

We are about to put in an order for a wood stove and fitting service and would just like to ask if the company that you have a problem with is British or French operated? Hopefully the company we are about to order from in the Limousin is not the same one you are having a problem with.

Rgds, Mike L

Telephones calls, e-mails and letters to french artisans and tradesmen are a complete and utter waste of time. You have to visit his office in person and if he's not there GO TO HIS HOUSE AT LUNCHTIME !! Tell him if its not done inside one week you will get someone else. When he says OK - fix a specific day and write it on a piece of paper with your name and address, and phone number on it - as most of them don't have offices, diaries or computers with calendars - it's all on back of the gitane pack; which gets thrown in the bin at the end of the day!

What a superb idea, will file that away for future use!

Sorry Suzanne, I assumed you signed as well as wrote on it.

@ Shirley: no, I don't think so. There will always be a number of artisans, entrepreneurs etc. who try to rip off non-suspecting people. France is no exception to the rule (and neither is the UK). But there are also a vast multitude of others who take their work seriously and have to make a living from it so they pretty straight to deal with.

And I'm not assuming something, just try to give some advice. And hind-sight often broadens your common sense ;-)

No, it needs to be signed, anyone can write anything on a devis :-)

Normally you, as the buyer of the services, write "Devis reçu avant exécution des travaux" on the paper and sign. This is to prevent any litigation concerning the amount of work described in the devis.

fantastic Catharine - I always get the wife and felt bad about it. Now I realise this is an excellent tactic. Noted for coming project :)

Yup and the insurance will also state exactly what they are insured for. EG, my husband is a carpenter but on his insurance he is insured for carpentry (menuiserie), dry lining, tiling etc but it specifically excludes 'charpente' ie roof work. I seem to think he is covered working up to a certain height if memory serves me right.

I am under the impression it is.

Hahaha, that is exactly what my OH did with our wood man. Firstly she badgered the wife and got last year's prices for all of it, then she re-badgered and got the wife to ensure her husband would turn up next day at nine. he didn't, but at nine thirty he did. Follow Catharine's wise council!

Has he got a wife? Because if so that is your best bet. You need to find the home number - not his work mobile which he will never answer and call home every lunch and dinner time. Be incredibly polite and always apologise for disturbing their meals but go on and on about how cold you are. Madame will get so sick of you ringing up that she will ensure he comes round to fit the flipping thing asap. This tactic has never, ever failed :)

I would also say - Please Please make sure you ask for a copy of their insurance certificate before parting with any cash. The insurance should show they are insured to do the work they intend to undertake and my understanding is that the date of the insurance is important for the period of the opening of the work being done. If you have any problems with their workmanship or they go bust you will not be able to claim against your insurance/theirs without this certificate and some unscrupulous tradesmen will hoodwink you to say they have got it of course - but insist you have a copy.

I should add - a good tradesman will always be happy to give you a copy of their insurance I've found

I think we wrote 'bon pour accord' on our devis? Is it the same thing?