What's my recourse?
April 13, 2014 5:05 AM   Subscribe

I hired a marine contractor in Rhode Island to build a pair of centerboards for my boat ($12k). They were delivered 3 months late and didn't fit. I was very clear about the dimensions, yet the builder's designer altered the shape without consulting me. They've admitted fault in emails and in person, apologized, yet won't make the situation better. They offered a refund if I pay shipping charges to/from, customs and excise, and any damages. I don't feel I should pay $2k out of pocket and end up with nothing. What do I do to get justice? Report them to the Better Business Bureau? Hire a lawyer? Go to court or arbitration? Say mean things about them and buy a voodoo doll? Am I entitled to damages beyond the $12k? Any advice welcome.
posted by karst to Law & Government (6 answers total)
It seems as if you're not in the US? You might get better responses if you clarify what jurisdiction you're in.
posted by koahiatamadl at 5:41 AM on April 13, 2014

Where are you located?
posted by DarlingBri at 5:41 AM on April 13, 2014

It sounds like you are not in the USA because you mention customs. And I wonder if they are trying to take advantage of you because you are not in the USA. You have email documentation which is good. Do you have a signed contract with centerboard dimensions and perhaps information that covers this type of situation?

If they won't budge, tell them that they are leaving you no choice but to pursue this with an attorney. I would start by consulting an attorney in Rhode Island.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 6:21 AM on April 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

I would talk to a lawyer - this is, at the least, worth a consultation.
posted by insectosaurus at 6:59 AM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm an attorney licensed in Rhode Island. I would suggest you use our state's Lawyer Referral Service (see here) to obtain a free half-hour consultation. They will connect you with an attorney whose practice is relevant to your situation. Explain your situation as fully and concisely as you did here, and ask for advice. Ask about legal remedies, and maybe specifically ask about sending what's called a demand letter. In a lot of situations (I can't speak to yours individually, because I'm not your attorney), a strongly worded letter on legal letterhead will prompt action on the part of a foot-dragging potential defendant that knows they're in the wrong.

Having this conversation shouldn't take too much of your time, it won't cost you anything beyond the cost of the phone call (if it's important to you, you can request an attorney who would be willing to consult via Skype or some other free service), and at the end of the conversation you should hopefully feel in a better position to assess your options. You'll want to be careful about throwing good money after bad, so to speak, but you might find that you have a better or cheaper option than going $2,000 out of pocket. Good luck!
posted by cribcage at 7:34 AM on April 13, 2014 [8 favorites]

I'm in the US Virgin Islands. The customs and excise tax doesn't really make sense because it's US/US, but nevertheless it was charged.

Thanks for the info cribcage.
posted by karst at 4:19 AM on April 15, 2014

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