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Money from cancelled home improvement contract sent after nudge



Updated: January 6, 2012 8:10AM

Dear Fixer: On Oct. 22, I signed a contract with Galaxie Construction and gave them a $5,000 deposit.

The contract specifically stated that I could cancel by Oct. 26 at midnight. On Oct. 23, I called and spoke with the salesman with whom I had signed the contract (and to whom I was directed to speak with when I called to cancel), and I verbally canceled the contract. He advised me that I should send a written cancellation.

So on Oct. 26, I again spoke to the salesman to inform him that I would be sending my written cancellation. At 8:45 p.m., I faxed a copy of the contract with the written statement, “I, Carlos Rangel, want to cancel this contract due to unforeseen circumstances.” I have a fax receipt from New Liberty Currency Exchange showing that this fax was received.

Since then, I have been calling Galaxie and have been told numerous times that I would receive a call back. It’s now almost a month later and I have not received a phone call.

Carlos Rangel, Chicago

Dear Carlos: We’re not sure who was dragging their feet over there, but as soon as The Fixer brought it to the owner’s attention, we heard from sales manager Dennis Hill, who apologized for the delay.

Hill said they typically hang on to checks for 10 to 15 days to make sure they clear, but after that, someone dropped the ball. He was sending your check out the next day, so you should have it by now. If not, let us know.

More on hiring contractors

We’re glad Galaxie stepped up and corrected this snafu. A reminder to other readers considering a home remodeling project: Make sure you understand your rights under the contract and you put down the smallest deposit possible. If you sign the contract in your home in the contractor’s presence, you have three business days to cancel.

Here are some more tips:

† Check out all contractors thoroughly and get at least two or three bids. Don’t automatically choose the lowest price; look at the quality of materials and workmanship.

† Always get a written contract that includes a thorough description of the job including specific materials, the start and finish dates, the total cost with a breakdown of labor and materials, the payment schedule, any warranty information, and the contractor’s full name, address, phone number and professional license number.

† Make sure the contractor has insurance for property damage, bodily injury and improper home repair.

A happier ending

A Fixer update: In October, we brought you the sad story of Dora Gonzalez of Homewood, who said a driver from Advanced Moving & Storage in Glendale Heights damaged the fence at her old house during her move in 2010. Dora got him to write on her paperwork that this had happened, so she could get reimbursed by the company.

The real estate closing was the next day, so Dora had to hustle to get that fence fixed. She spent $764 of her own money and then spent the next seven months trying to get the moving company to pay her back.

The Fixer intervened in June, but after a summerlong battle, the moving company offered only to pay half the cost of fixing the fence. The moving company claimed Dora didn’t let them investigate it before it was repaired. Dora was so angry about this 50 percent offer, she turned it down and vowed to take them to court.

Well, after that column ran, The Fixer heard from a couple of readers who wanted to help Dora. One was a staffer at the Illinois Commerce Commission, which regulates moving companies.

She directed Dora to the moving company’s insurer, so Dora could do an end-run around this mess. The movers had coverage only for depreciated value, not replacement value — but the insurer offered Dora close to $500 reimbursement, which was better than the earlier offer. Rather than continue this in court, Dora has opted to take the money.

Getting the runaround over a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at , where you’ll find a simple form to fill out. Because of the large volume of submissions, The Fixer can’t personally reply to every problem.

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