San Benito Contractor Says Client Hasn't Paid
SAN BENITO – A business owner and contractor in San Benito are deadlocked about their business agreement.
Rigo Rangel told CHANNEL 5 NEWS he was hired to pave the parking lot of a new business plaza and quoted the work at $37,000.
He said the business relationship with his customer started off great.
"She would bring us tamales. She was so kind, invited us to her church, etc. And you know, just seemed like a nice lady," he said.
But that soon faded.
Rangel said the business owner was paying him as he worked but the payments fell short, and at one point stopped.
He showed us this hand-written contract, in which he claims he negotiated a payment plan for the money he was owed.
Even then, he says, he wasn't paid the balance. He claims it's now been 17 months since he finished the parking lot and has been trying to collect the money.
"She said that the asphalt changed colors, you know, and that's normal for the asphalt to change colors after curing time," Rangel said. "It will change from a dark black to light gray."
CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke with the business plaza owner. She did not want to speak on camera.
But she did say she wasn't satisfied with Rangel's work.
She took us around the parking lot pointing out cracks, grass growing through the asphalt, uneven surfaces and other issues she has with the work.
The business owner said she'll have to spend more money to fix it.
She denies owing Rangel money and said she paid him $22,000 in cash.
Now, she wants Rangel to fix her parking lot.
Both parties admit the record keeping of their work agreements and money exchanged could have been better.
"The process of payment, you know, definitely, every company upon mobilization requests down payment," Rangel said. "I tend to take that a little lightly, and I guess (these are) the consequences."
The business owner said it's best to keep business and friendships as two separate things.
Dolores Salinas with the Better Business Bureau told us the first mistake was not having a contract in place that detailed the agreement for the work, how it was to be paid and any warranties.
The BBB has no file on Rangel's company, she said, and if the business owner is not happy with his work, she can file a complaint with the BBB.
On the other hand, attorney Victor Ramirez said there are protections for contractors like Rangel.
He said if he is certain he's owed money, he can file what's known as a Mechanic's Lien on the property. That notarized form would be filed with the county clerk's office and would place a lien on the property.
Salinas said if any business owner feels they are being strong-armed into a job, they can contact local authorities.
She also gave the following tips that people need to be aware of:
- Know who you’re entering an agreement with
- Review the contract and review the company on the BBB’s website, if possible
- Thoroughly read the contract before you sign; contracts can be long or short and don’t have to look legal to be binding
- Never sign a blank contract
- Make sure it details the work that’ll be done
- Review clauses, terms and conditions
- If they don’t apply to you, get rid of it in the contract
- Know your rights
She said most contract can’t be canceled, except in some consumer situation where the Federal Trade Commission gives a three-day right to cancel.
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