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Upfront full payment on small scale supply and install building work

Having some windows supplied and installed by a company for a set single fee. The fee is reasonable and reviews are good- which is why I chose them. However, they are asking for full payment upfront and before installation - is this legal? If it is not done well it seems i’ll have no way to recoup costs. All i can find about staged payments is in relation to domestic building contracts and grander scale home renovations where staged payments are required by law- but this doesn’t apply in relation to this small scale work…many thanks in advance

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Good question.

If possible if no other alternative is pay by Credit Card and then you should have some protection under Chargeback protection conditions on your Card. There is an article and topic on chargeback which all can be found from the following link. Card chargebacks

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Many thanks Graholl for pointing me in the right direction- I’ll give that a read- it sounds like a good solution,

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I don’t see why it would be illegal. Many products are bought up front and then are later delivered and installed.
As @grahroll says, you can protect yourself somewhat by using a credit card.

You could also try to argue for a reasonable deposit, and the remainder on completion. Worth a try.

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Great thanks Gregr, appreciate the advice.

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It wouldn’t be and I suspect the business is protecting itself from doing the work and then not being paid.

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Legal or recommended, it may vary between states,
Qld QBCC (Qld Building & Construction Commission):

There are in this instance clear recommendations on the maximum deposits required based on the value and type of work. Typically 5-10%. For customer joinery work I’ve only ever paid a deposit up front, with the balance on supply, or after installation if that was also included.

It may assist others to provide information if you can share details of which state you are in. It’s a given most of Australia lives in Sydney or Melbourne (Vic and NSW), hence my Qld experience may not be relevant.

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I would not pay for any such service 100% up front. If the work doesn’t get done you are just an unsecured creditor and can whistle to get it back. If they delay unreasonably what are you going to do?

This may (or may not ) be relevant, you decide. I was asked to pay for a computer up front. I was told it was a special build (true) but then they all were, there were no floor stock you could walk out with. I offered a deposit, they refused, I walked out. A month later the business went into receivership leaving many who had paid in full at the end of a long queue of creditors.

It is true that builders can be out of pocket if they do the work and you don’t pay but the reverse applies as well. There needs to be some trust and good will. on both sides I would think a 25% deposit would be reasonable to establish your good intent. In my experience is that this is not standard in the building industry. You have to ask yourself why.

The editor has had a hissy fit
when I type the text does not appear at the cursor!
I give up

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Im in Victoria

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Yes, I did think there was no consumer protection

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Your computer purchase story @syncretic is a perfect example of why paying by credit card can provide a safeguard.

The company supplying the goods goes bust without delivering, then the chargeback provisions would be available via your card issuing bank.
Then the merchant’s bank becomes a creditor seeking payment, not you.

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It can be set out as the QBCC example illustrates.
For @Billie in Victoria, the advice to use a CC might be the only option.

For those in other states to compare. Qld QBCC -

Deposits

Generally, if the cost of your building work is $20,000 or more, the maximum deposit allowed is 5% of the total contract price (including labour, materials and GST). If the contract price is between $3,300 and $19,999, the maximum deposit is 10%.

An exception applies where more than 50% of the value of the work is to be performed offsite (e.g. for kitchen renovations where the modules are custom made in a factory), in which case the contractor is permitted to take up to 20% deposit.

For jobs priced at $3,300 or less, we generally recommend no more than 20%.

One industry Standard, albeit for a very small part of the Aussie building industry.

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Reviews notwithstanding I would go elsewhere. The media is rife with people who have paid contractors to do this and that and it was half done, not done, or shoddy, with the consumer having no recourse. A maximum I would ever be comfortable paying up front would be cost of supplies, with 10-25% being no worries in this context.

Which reviews are those? Google? Productreview? The company’s web site?

Windows could be a few hundred to a few tens of thousand of dollars, and all companies won’t do cards, especially if they are sole traders or small. Most trades I deal with are EFT only.

In your situation I would use that info to seek a company with more reasonable terms.

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I extensively checked a variety of reviews; product review; google; Facebook etc

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They offer credit card payment so I will be proceeding on that basis for the added security it offers (ie in the event they go under etc).

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And if the business does not have a credit card merchant facility, ask yoursely why.

Is it because their bank did not consider them trustworthy?

Is it because they are part of the black economy?

Is it to avoid refunds?

These days, many smart tradies have hand held wireless merchant terminals so as to get paid before they leave the job site, thus avoiding payment problems.

And as far as paying in advance goes, it is very much a two way street. Pay in advance and risk losing your money. Fail to get paid in advance and risk not getting paid at all.

A 50% deposit limits the risks to both parties.

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Often it is the cost they either need to pass on or absorb in their pricing. The former is often unpopular and puts customers off and the latter might make them less competitive. Many customers are blasé about surcharges, others less so.

Some tradies/companies. especially in building related industries still seem to quote prices X/GST to make it seem like a smaller amount with the GST inclusive amounts shown afterwards.

Merchandising psychology?

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We engaged a reputable company to install flooring and they too, required up front payment. We had been burned before, so requested that we pay a decent deposit, and the balance upon completion of the installation. We explained the reason for our request and the rep contacted his boss, who agreed to this request. I cannot recall if we used credit card or direct deposit for the transactions.

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Thanks bluebyjane, 100% upfront payment seems to be more common for these smaller scale building works than I thought.

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We’ve never paid in full up front over more than 30+ years of paying for works. Painting, electrical work, or custom made doors and carpentry.

Common does not make it appropriate. A deposit is part of a binding contract. Ownership legally of the completed work remains with the supplier until paid in full. As a purchaser which is most likely? For the supplier to fail having been paid in full or the customer to not pay for the goods ordered? I’d trust myself as a customer to pay!

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