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"How long before being invoiced is reasonable?" Topic


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9,318 hits since 11 Oct 2011
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stenicplus Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 6:13 a.m. PST

How long do you think it's reasonable to wait for an invoice and is any one aware of any laws on the matter (I realise any advice is not legally binding blah blah blah).

We've not had an expected plumbing invoice now for nigh on 18 months.

Some my recall that this time last year we moved into our new house that we'd spent the previous year doing up. Knocking down walls, new electrics and plumbing etc…. 9 months worth of major work and I'm still doing small bits whilst we are in now.

The plumber started off fine and indeed we have hot water and central heating all working fine, we have new underfloor heating upstairs, new radiators were put in downstairs and the pipe work was altered accordingly. A new boiler and tank were installed and the gas pipe re-routed to the new bolier location. A pump was put in to ensure the end of the house had hot water rather than wait for the hot to reach the taps every morning (it's about 25mts to travel from tank to furtherst tap). A new thermostat controller was added. So in effect quite a lot of plumbing work that started in Apr 2010, 90% finished when we moved in Nov 2010 and we are now Oct 2011 at 99% of the plumbing work done.

There are a couple of outstanding plumbing items but nothing major.

And in all that time we've not had an invoice. The plumber, and his crew are very nice and very good. But I do know he has a big contract with HSBC (UK high st bank) and they are busy on that, so busy in fact it's difficult to get hold of them. I suspect that actually he took on my job to keep his lads busy over last summer rather than for the cash, our job must be small fry if he has UK wide HSBC contract. It's the only logical conclusion because if it was incompetance he'd be out of business.

So I'm wondering now at what point can I say, right, you had a chance to bill me, too late.

This does have an associated warranty risk of course but as I can't get hold of him at the moment anyway that may not be an issue.

We have the money waiting (we are looking at up to $8 USD,00 worth of work), but one other concern is the VAT. When I expected to be billed VAT was 15%, now it's 20% and I see no reason why I should pay VAT at the current rate when by all reasonable considerations I should have been invoiced on time with VAT at the prevailing rate.

We'd also asked him to install solar panels for us but that's not happened so we are likely to go elsewhere.

GeoffQRF Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 6:29 a.m. PST

In theory if they don't chase the debt for 6 years (and that can be any contact including a letter) then it would become statute barred.

Did you have a quote and does the contract say anything about VAT? (It may say, at the effective rate at time of completion, or words to that effect)

stenicplus Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 7:40 a.m. PST

Ta Geoff,

And here's the bit where my naivety at the start of the project shows…

There is no written contract. The quote was over the phone after he'd been a couple of times to look over the job. There should have been a quote but it wasn't forthcoming and we wanted to get on, so I said get me the quote later but start the job. There was no payment upfront required so him running off with any cash was not going to happen.

They got on with the job and worked well when they were there but the quote never materialised (that was probably the first clue their admin was a tad lax), but then neither did the invoice.

So, another 5 years to wait then I can spend the cash on toy soldiers grin

Sane Max Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 8:22 a.m. PST

You want to hassle him for a copy, at least tell him to tell you over the 'phone how much he will charge, make a note of that, date, sign it and file it away. Then if in 6 months he claims you agreed to pay him 6 gazillion you will have 'written notes' that you can refer to.Judges are reasonable human beings and will usually take that as evidence.

VAT is not contractual it is calculated at the point of service so he cannot charge you other than 15% (18 months ago? wasn't that 17.5??)

$8.00 us dollars? Or do you mean $800 USD

Pat

stenicplus Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 8:25 a.m. PST

Ta Pat,

No 8000 UK sterling currency seems to have gone iffy despite using the

sign… and it can't handle commas to break up 000s

45thdiv11 Oct 2011 9:01 a.m. PST

Are you happy with his work and with the way his crew behaved during the job?

You owe him the money. I would take what Price Lackwit said , but also ask the question of when he will send the invoice out to you. You want to make sure you have a date of when he thinks he can complete his paperwork for the job he performed for you. You may think that 8000 Pound Sterling is a little bit for a guy who has a big bank job, but any amount of money is important to any contractor. They don't give out freebies.

So once you have a call into him with an amount and a date for invoice, then you can start your clock counting the days for when you can spend his money on your toy soldiers when the 7 years are up.

To me that's the wrong way round at looking at this issue. But that's just me. I want all my debts paid for. I hate to owe people money. If he walks away from the deal fair a square with you owing him nothing, then great. But I think you should ask him for the invoice again and write that date and amount down, just in case.

Mikhail Lerementov Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 12:59 p.m. PST

So there is no paper trail. Is this a legitimate business? Is it licensed or properly registered, works out of a storefront? I can't imagine a plumber in the U.S. waiting for a year and a half to collect $12 USDK. without there being something shady going on.

GeoffQRF Inactive Member12 Oct 2011 2:51 a.m. PST

Lack of paperwork can just mean he is an adminstrative nightmare, but not necessarily that there is anything shady going on. However I highly doubt he is doing anything for HSBC without a lot of paperwork being signed first, from both sides! ;-)

Lack of paperwork does not prevent a contract from being formed – it merely makes evidence harder when it comes to a court case, i.e. if he now tries to charge you twice what he verbally estimated you have very little actual proof to put in front of anyone.

In reality, he has performed the work. It would be difficult to argue that he did it without your knowledge, so if it went to trial the performance would be deemed sufficient proof of the existence of a contract.

45thdiv may be right morally. Badger him and I am sure he will bill you, eventually. If it's significantly different from the estimation then take it back.

Legally he cannot pursue any debt older than 6 years: link

An action founded on simple contract shall not be brought after the expiration of six years from the date on which the cause of action accrued.

Re the VAT, from: link

For any sales of standard-rated goods or services you made between 1 January 2010 and 3 January 2011 inclusive you should have charged VAT at the rate of 17.5 per cent.

That seems to imply that the relevant VAT rate is the one at the point of sale. Ordinarily in retail the point of sale and payment are the same time. I'm not sure what happens if the invoice comes a significant time later, after the rate has changed, i.e. is it fixed at the start of the contract, finish of the contract or issue of the invoice? Any UK tax accountants in the house?

Sane Max Inactive Member12 Oct 2011 3:34 a.m. PST

I'm not sure what happens if the invoice comes a significant time later, after the rate has changed, i.e. is it fixed at the start of the contract, finish of the contract or issue of the invoice? Any UK tax accountants in the house?

Better than that – Debt Collector speaking. VAT is at the point of service, if the work was done in 2010 it's 17.5% whether he bills them then or in 3 years.

Pat

45thdiv12 Oct 2011 3:34 a.m. PST

It's pretty different here in the US. Nothing gets started without a contract in place and a deposit for materials. I've seen hand shake deals but those were never over more than a few hundred dollars US.

GeoffQRF Inactive Member12 Oct 2011 4:10 a.m. PST

Excellent Pat, bet that's the first time anyone has been happy to see a debt collector :-)

It's pretty unusual to see a job as big as this in the UK without a contract first (protects both sides!) but nothing to say it is impossible.

Klebert L Hall Inactive Member12 Oct 2011 4:55 a.m. PST

So I'm wondering now at what point can I say, right, you had a chance to bill me, too late.

Really!?

The guy is not hassling you for his pay and this annoys you and makes you want to rip him off?

No good deed goes unpunished.
-Kle.

GeoffQRF Inactive Member12 Oct 2011 4:56 a.m. PST

There are a couple of outstanding plumbing items but nothing major

It's possible that he doesn't view it as finished yet.

The guy is not hassling you for his pay and this annoys you and makes you want to rip him off?

Not sure that is entirely the issue. It's never nice to think a bill is hanging over you, but "as I can't get hold of him at the moment"…

Sounds like has has at least tried to deal with it.

Sane Max Inactive Member12 Oct 2011 5:12 a.m. PST

Nothing gets started without a contract in place

Maybe because you are quite a litigious culture? Or just better organised. Over here it's common for 'Joe Blow, Tradesman' to be a one man band, often a barely numerate one as well, who finds getting invoices out to people a real problem.

I was once given a debt for about 5k to recover, and the sum total paperwork was a piece of spiral bound notepaper with the words "Mick, bald guy, aisle 3, xxx city Market, 5,000 pounds (plus VAT??)" written in Biro. I have to confess we failed to get that one paid…. my main client now is a very large organisation, but it's not unusual for orders in the 50k range to be placed by email, with no signature, no identification, just the Salesperson's understanding of who the customer is.

So Stenicplus' story is not that unusual.

Pat

GeoffQRF Inactive Member12 Oct 2011 5:20 a.m. PST

…it's not unusual for orders in the 50k range to be placed by email, with no signature, no identification, just the Salesperson's understanding of who the customer is

'Standard practice' can imply terms into a contract in itself.

stenicplus Inactive Member12 Oct 2011 5:41 a.m. PST

The guy is not hassling you for his pay and this annoys you and makes you want to rip him off?

Easy there Klebert. No, I think you misundertand and my original post is perhaps a little tortuosly long and addled.

For the record (and thanks all for the advice, particularly Pat the Badman Debt Collector ;-) )

The work agreed is nigh on complete, in effect we are looking at a plumbing snagging list. The work is fine and I'm happy with it.

I want to pay. I have badgered him, my wife badgers him too!! Phone records will show we regularly call him on mobile and his office. I want to pay what I think it should be. My fear is that the bill will be larger than expected and the longer no bill arrives the more time I have to worry about it.

My other fear was the VAT being apply at the current higher rate, but that seems to not be an issue and in fact will be 17.5% as it was at the time – got my dates mixed over 15%.

The main building work contractor did have his own plumber under his contract but my guy quoted cheaper, so I told the main contractor I would provide the plumber. He was fine with that as it's no skin off his nose, and if it went wrong it's my issue.

We also asked the plumber to look at PV solar panels for use (the UK has a 41.3p/KwH pay back tariff fixed for 25yrs just to generate, and 3 pence on top for that returned to the grid. But he's not got back to us. Again potential for a few 1000 but he's not rushing for the job.

So as Geoff surmises, it appears to be an admin issue borne of lack of need for the cash. Yes, I bet the HSBC contract is nailed to the floor but from what he says that has to be worth a serious amount of cash to not worry about my invoice.

So as it is we leave messages every couple of weeks. I've no desire to rip him off but just wandered what the legal position was as invoice will be very late and if higher than expected.

stenicplus Inactive Member20 Oct 2011 5:36 a.m. PST

Plumber finally popped in Tuesday. Took note of the outstanding bits for the umpteenth time and we discussed what work he'd done so he could work out the bill.

And yes, I told him all the bits they'd done that he'd forgotten about.

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