Ask BBB

Ask BBB

By Rod Davis, CEO BBB serving Southeast Florida and the Caribbean

Every day our BBB is talking with consumers and businesses about issues and challenges. It is our goal at BBB to help parties resolve disagreements and by sharing the questions and answers with you, help others avoid the same problem. 

Question from John P. I was having a pool installed and my contractor said that I had to pay for the soil boring test. I told my contractor it should be part of his costs. Who is right? 

Answer: John, it is always important to know all possible costs before proceeding with a construction project. When you are negotiating prices, it is important to ask your contractor if the agreement covers all costs (e.g. soil boring tests, permits, etc.). The contract between you and the contractor should clearly state all fees covered by the contractor and any that are not included in the contract and are to be paid by the customer. So the answer to your question is that you will need to review your contract to determine if you or your contractor is responsible for the soil boring test.

BBB also recommends that consumers receive at least three bids, especially on major projects so you can compare prices, references, time frames and the details included in each proposal. BBB suggests that you provide the contractors with a uniform proposal so you can compare each option based on similar products and all costs covered by the contractor in his/her proposal. You can get quotes at: seflorida.app.bbb.org/connect

Question from Stacy H. We had a customer leave a very negative review on our business that was not fair. She claims that we did not complete the job on time and so she wants a refund. The customer did not mention that she lives in a community with a homeowner’s association and they delayed approval of the project. Once approval of the project was obtained, we completed the project in the 45 days as we agreed. She said she would delete her review if we pay the refund. We don’t feel like we should give in to her demand since we did not do anything wrong. 

Answer: BBB encourages consumers and businesses to be honest and professional in all interactions and that includes customer reviews. It is important for businesses to respond to reviews (positive and negative) since they are often used by consumers as part of the process to evaluate whether they are going to hire a business. 

Since potential consumers may read reviews on your business, your response should present your business in the best possible light. It appears based on the information you provided that the HOA issue caused the delay. Since there are additional steps to completing a process that requires permits, HOA approval, etc., do your agreements with customers base completion times from these key approvals? If they do, and you can demonstrate that, and that you lived up to the commitment, then that detail should be included in your response. If your agreements or explanations to consumers are not as clear about HOA approval, then you might update your agreements to eliminate potential conflicts going forward and work with this customer to resolve the issue offline. It is very possible that by showing this customer that you are updating your process and taking care of her concern, she will update her review. 

On the other hand, if your process does correctly explain the timing for projects and the customer was wrong in this case, then you will be able to explain that in your response and do so in a manner that shows you run a professional quality business that clearly explained the timetable to the customer and that you met the contractual obligation.

Question from Jose Q: I recently bought a used car. The salesman told me they inspected the car and it was in good shape. I also got a Carfax report and so I thought I was getting a good car and would not have any issues. After four months the car started making noise and when I took it into the shop they said it needed a new transmission. I called my salesman and he said the car was sold as is and that they offered me a service contract that I declined. How can I get this business to fix my car? I feel like I am getting ripped off. 

Answer: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Used Car Rule, formally known as the Used Motor Vehicle Trade Regulation Rule, has been in effect since 1985. It requires car dealers to display a window sticker, known as a Buyers Guide, on the used cars they offer for sale. The Buyers Guide discloses whether the dealer offers a warranty and, if so, its terms and conditions, including the duration of the coverage, the percentage of total repair costs the dealer will pay, and which vehicle systems the warranty covers. In states that do not permit sales of used cars “as is,” or without warranties, dealers must display an alternative version of the Buyers Guide.

Based on the information you provided it sounds as if the vehicle was sold “as is” and you should check the Buyers Guide sticker that was on your vehicle. Unfortunately, if the vehicle was purchased “as is” then you have limited options. It is for this reason BBB recommends that consumers have a neutral inspection performed on vehicles sold without a warranty to check out the major components of the vehicle. You may also talk to the business owner to see if they can offer any assistance toward the repair. 

If you have any questions about an issue you are having, please send the question to Rdavis@bbbsefl.org.

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