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Misrepresentation in a contract

  • 18-09-2023 3:01pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1,542 ✭✭✭

    Hi, so I'm considering taking a for breach of contract/misrepresentation.

    It's not for a huge amount of money. I think I'd like to do it to right a wrong, but only if I have a reasonable chance of winning.

    I've tried reading up on the law on misrepresentation and it looks quite confusing so let me share my story.

    I received a quote from a builder to replace some roof windows. It looked expensive but I was in a hurry to get some work done with a new baby arriving.

    I agreed to the quote but part of this agreement was the builder would do another job for me, as I was very stuck for someone to do this other job. There was never a quote for this other job but I've a number of text messages from the builder saying 'he'll take care of it', 'all under control' etc.

    Once the first job was complete, the builder came along and fobbed me off with a mate's phone number (who never replied) for the second job.

    This after having had months to inform me if he wasn't going to take it.

    I paid him believing I had no grounds not to. But I feel now I should not have paid in full.

    After he did the first job I realised I was charged a very high rate for it. I had over-estimated the work involved.

    I've complained to him about his prices and misrepresentation but he's not responded.

    Does it sound like I've a case? I genuinely only agreed to the quote for the roof windows on the grounds he was going to take the other job and I'd get everything done together without hassle.

    I'm now left trying to do the other job myself as I feel it's gone too late to get another builder in and have it done before winter.



  • Registered Users Posts: 13,718 ✭✭✭✭Dav010

    Just to be clear, you didn’t receive a quote, and haven’t paid anything for the other job?

    Surely the time to question the quote for the initial job was before you agreed to it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,542 ✭✭✭MegamanBoo

    No I never received a quote for the other job or paid anything. But I only agreed to the window job once he said he said he was going to do the other one.

    I asked for the price for the second job and he told me he was just waiting for figures from his suppliers. Again this is in text.

    I appreciate I was careless but was paying in part for the convenience of having everything taken care of. Or I thought I was.

    To me it seems clear now he was offering an inducement he had no intention of following up. But is there a legal case or does it fall down because there was never an agreed price for the other part of the job.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,718 ✭✭✭✭Dav010

    I think the answer to that is, would you feel obligated to proceed with the job, and pay him if he gave you a quote for the second job which you are unhappy with?

    If you are claiming to have a contract which includes the second job, and you haven’t yet been told how much it would cost, that might not be favourable to you.

  • Registered Users Posts: 727 ✭✭✭Forge83

    Life’s short, move on. You agreed to a quote for a job, he did the work and you paid him. Yes he was wrong in promising verbally to do a seperate job and not following through. If the other job was done you would have to pay for it. So financially you are in the same place. Find someone else to do it and save yourself the stress.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,542 ✭✭✭MegamanBoo

    It wasn't just verbally, it's in our texts that he was to do the second job and I only agreed to the first one after that.

    I'd say I'm quite out of pocket, I paid top dollar for the window job on the basis the other one was to be done. Also, I was struggling to find a builder for that other job a the time, and impossible now in the timeframe I need it done.

    I get what you're saying about moving on and am considering it. That said I can take the case at no great cost to myself. I just don't want to do that unless I have a reasonably solid basis.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,542 ✭✭✭MegamanBoo

    I don't see that he is obliged to the second job now, it was only ever offered as an inducement.

    It's clear now there was never a genuine intention to do that work.

    I suspect the reason he never wanted to do it is that it would never be as profitable as the roof window work. Were he to try to charge the same rates for this more basic work I think he'd be into bogus tradesman territory.

  • Registered Users Posts: 39,995 ✭✭✭✭ohnonotgmail

    What do you hope to gain from suing him? what outcome would you expect?

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,132 ✭✭✭✭fritzelly

    Was there not a story recently where text messages where seen as an implied contract for a similar situation? Tried googling but can't find it but I'm sure it happened

  • Registered Users Posts: 39,995 ✭✭✭✭ohnonotgmail

    if there is no agreed on consideration do you have a contract?

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,718 ✭✭✭✭Dav010


    Not to put to fine a point on it, you seemed to be claiming you entered an agreement/contract with a builder knowing exactly how much the first job was, but you are now unhappy with that quote after the job is done, and with no idea of what the second job would cost, but you now think the builder should have done the job whatever he charged you.

    Given the high price of the first job, there is every possibility that he would have charged you a lot for the second job, at least now you are in a position to get more quotes rather than being tied in to an agreement with unknown costs.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,542 ✭✭✭MegamanBoo

    Not quite, I'm worse off than I was day one because I only took his first quote on the basis he was serious about doing the second job. Had he provided a quote for the second job I think it would be more difficult for me to show he was never serious about doing it.

    Look at it this way. Imagine there was a shortage of work and an abundance of builders. I offered one of these builders a low rate for a job but with the promise I had loads more work to follow. When they asked for details I fobbed them off with excuses that I was waiting for prices from suppliers etc. When they had done the first job at the lower rate I stopped taking their calls.

    I'm quite clear that you can't offer an inducement for another party to enter a contract unless you are genuine about meeting it. I'm just not sure in my case, as I think @ohnonotgmail is pointing out, whether the inducement was, pardon the building related pun, concrete enough, given there was no price put to it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,713 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus

    But what remedy do you want? He did the first job at the price he quoted. You now think the quote was more than the job was worth, but by your own account that's your mistake; you overestimated the amount of work involved.

    Your complaint now is that he is not following through on his representation that he would take on the second job. Do you want him to be compelled to take it on, or at least to tender for it? He can easily put in a very high tender. Given your dissatisfaction over what he charged for the first job, do you even want him to do the second job?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,542 ✭✭✭MegamanBoo

    I believe when it's established there was misrepresentation the role of the court is to attempt to undo the damage done, and put the injured party back as close as possible to their original position.

    I knew the quote was high when I got it, just not how high.

    I think the fairest thing would be that I pay for the goods supplied, given I would have had to have replaced these windows at some point in the future.

    And then try to ascertain a fair rate for the other work, based on quotes from other local tradesmen, or industry hourly rates for roofers.

    It's not a huge amount of money but if I have a case I'd like to pursue it. I looked into taking it with the small claims court but they won't deal with misrepresentation.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,718 ✭✭✭✭Dav010

    Thats not the way it works. You accepted a quote for the first job, the job was done, you paid only for that job.

    What damage was done?

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,713 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus

    Assuming this is treated as a misrepresentation case (I think that's a bit iffy, but lets assume) the principle is to put you in the position you would be in if the representation were true.

    If the representation were true, you would have got the first job done at the quoted price, and he would have tendered for the second job, a tender you would be free to accept or reject.

    You have got the first job done at the quoted price, so all you could look for would be compensation for the loss of the opportunity to receive and consider his tender.

    Since he had no obligation to tender at a below-market rate, it's not clear that the loss of this opportunity is worth anything. Given what you now think of him, you would likely have rejected his tender anyway. What have you lost by not being able to reject his tender?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,542 ✭✭✭MegamanBoo

    Ah ok, I have it now.

    My understanding was that the principle was to attempt to put me in a place where the misrepresentation never happened.

    So on that grounds, I've no damages, as I wouldn't want to proceed with any more work with this individual.

    Well, thanks for that 👍️

    Unless anyone has a correction or opinion on that point, I think that's the end of my case.

    I'll just go back to leaving terrible, but non-defamatory, reviews for the guy online!

  • Moderators, Politics Moderators Posts: 37,925 Mod ✭✭✭✭Seth Brundle

    To be honest, it looks like your pride took a knock and you want some form of revenge.

    Leaving an honest negative review will only reflect on you: you willingly accepted the first contract knowing it was priced too high. The builder also doesn't want to do the second job so if the first was so lucrative, Did he simply not want to work for you any more?

    Just move on with your life and don't get petty!

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,542 ✭✭✭MegamanBoo

    I appreciate the advise but I think I'm past looking for some form of revenge.

    To put this in perspective, I had some plumbers come in and do another job. From my rough calculations this roofer charged somewhere between 10-15 times their hourly rate.

    I knew he was charging an expensive rate, but I didn't realise how high, thinking there was more work involved.

    I've since had a look around for other quotes for the same job, to make sure I'm not being overly critical with my negative reviews.

    I've learned there's some people charging even more again for the same job.

    It looks to me that there are some unscrupulous businesses taking advantage of the fact that people might think this type of work is more complex than it is.

    I get that that's within the law, and I can live with having been caught out myself, but I think there's a public interest in making people aware of what's going on.

  • Moderators, Politics Moderators Posts: 37,925 Mod ✭✭✭✭Seth Brundle

    You got a quote from a builder and were happy to proceed with the work so much so that you were passing additional work his way. You since found out that his qupte was high.

    You are now aggreived at having paid so much so that is completely on you. You failed to obtain alternative quotes despite knowing that the builder's quote was on the high side. This is completely on you. Now you want some kind of legal recourse for your mistake and none seems available which is why you think the mature approach is to post online reviews.

    And now you're defending the public interest? All I can say is "grow up"! Maybe in future ask your other half or neighbour or anyone else to look after your financial transactions if you're not capable of doing it yourself.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,542 ✭✭✭MegamanBoo

    It sounds like someone's left bad online reviews for you?

    I've already posted online reviews, I'm going to post now on some consumer threads about my experiences. Had someone else done the same for this guy beforehand, it would have saved me a lot of hassle.

    I've learned a lesson from this which is to always seek out multiple quotes even from local tradesmen. Previously I would only have done so for what I thought were larger jobs.

    My experience had been that in rural areas tradesmen didn't engage in this kind of price gouging. It seems now, with the market the way it is, some are, and I'll be sharing that.

    I think it's a good thing. It doesn't cost me anything as I have downtime in front of a computer anyway. Once I'm telling the truth, what's the harm?

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  • Moderators, Politics Moderators Posts: 37,925 Mod ✭✭✭✭Seth Brundle

    Nobody has left reviews for me as I'm not a tradesman.

    However, you're choosing the petty route - just make sure to provide all details rather so readers get the full picture and aren't left thinking that the builder did something wrong.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,542 ✭✭✭MegamanBoo

    Hasn't done anything wrong?

    When I spoke to the CCPC they felt he had engaged in misrepresentation and asked me to provide the text messages where he'd promised to do the other job. They did say they're unlikely to pursue enforcement because they usually only do so when a business regularly shows up in their complaints. I'm guessing a smaller tradesman rarely would.

    I guess it also depends on your position on price-gouging. Some see it as part of the 'free-market', others see at as unhealthy for a properly functioning economy. Various members of our government have spoken out against it recently.

    But let the people decide for themselves I say.

  • Registered Users Posts: 39,995 ✭✭✭✭ohnonotgmail

    They did say they're unlikely to pursue enforcement because they usually only do so when a business regularly shows up in their complaints

    what enforcement do you think they can pursue?

    and as for "price gouging", he gave you a quote and you accepted it. that the price is higher than you now think it should have been is a mistake on your part not his. your behaviour have been naive in the extreme. anybody sensible would have sought multiple quotes before commencing work.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,542 ✭✭✭MegamanBoo

    They mentioned I think a 1997 Consumer Act.

    As I understand it, you can't offer an inducement for another party to enter a contract unless you genuinely intend to provide what you're promising. I get that for this case it's a bit 'iffy' because there might not have been a material value to the inducement.

    But that's the principle and I believe it can be, and is sometimes, enforced.

    As for 'price-gouging', again a matter of perspective. I wholly agree I was naive and at this time extremely busy. That does not mean there isn't a public interest in people being aware of the variation in prices between businesses, and over time. It would have been unheard of for a rural business to charge these amounts until very recently and I think it's important people are aware.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,718 ✭✭✭✭Dav010

    This is just a case of buyers remorse, nothing more.

  • Registered Users Posts: 642 ✭✭✭

    If the builder/tradesmen did a very good job on your house you contracted them to should be thankful with so many horror stories about.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,542 ✭✭✭MegamanBoo

    Thanks I've already acknowledged there isn't grounds for damages here.

    As legal discussion though I feel I've learned something around misrepresentation and inducements. There's a limit to what and how a business can offer as an inducement. What I found interesting was that it seems to depend on how genuine they were in their intentions.

    Let's say my case was more clear cut and I had agreed a price for the second job. The builder wouldn't have committed misrepresentation if say, they had an accident and genuinely couldn't complete the second job. If they had never intended to take the second job we'd be into misrepresentation territory.

    It's not clear to me where the burden of proof lies but I still found it interesting.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,542 ✭✭✭MegamanBoo

    I'm more of the opinion he'd have been wiser to do the second job for free and with a groveling apology!

    He's already complained that he's not happy about my online reviews.

    I've pointed out to him that it's unwise to charge a premium rate without offering a premium service. Dissatisfied customers are bad for business in the long run. People talk, it's human nature.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,205 ✭✭✭Former Former Former

    Right, so you think this guy gouged you on the first job - even though you agreed the price beforehand - and you're now upset that he isn't coming back for a second bite at the cherry?

    I think you need to take a breath, think about what you actually hope to get out of this, and let your partner handle the next tradesman.