AES backed out of a project which required a deposit $17333, will only refund a portion.
AES Builders was hired to finish out our basement (project 1) and to add a master bathroom to our master suite (project 2), both of which had permits pulled. Project 1 required a deposit of $14,166, $14,166 for start, $10,000 for half completion, and $4168 for completion of the project. A deposit of $17333 was put down specifically for project 2. During project 1, there was a miscommunication between the contractor and a hardwood company regarding hardwood for the stairs. Both parties were approached by myself, requesting for them to communicate with each other how to take care of it. When the AES contractor was approached, he became very defensive. After that conversation, the AES owner, Mr. *** ******, decided to pull out of project 2.
My wife and I were shocked that such a drastic reaction could take place. Nonetheless, my wife and I were eager to complete project 2, and I wrote an apologetic email to AES, even offering to remove myself as a point of contact, leaving my wife as the sole point of contact. AES still refused to move forward with project 2, and offered to refund our deposit for project 2.
*** ****** delivered a check for $13547.86, deducting money that is still remaining for project 1. However, the basement project is not finished. According to the contract that was signed, the final payment of the remaining balance is not due until completion of the project, meaning all service, labor, errors rectified, and final inspection. I never gave consent to AES to receive payment for completion of the basement project. They would not have had the ability to do so if they didn't already have the deposit for project 2 in their possession. The financial incentive is no longer there for AES to come out to our home promptly to take care of issues (we have requested for them to come out, and they refuse to do so until they have everything they need to do everything in 1 visit).
I have no problem paying the remaining balance of the basement once the project is completed, but consider this inappropriate and, according to our contract, as illegal. I spoke with *** ****** about this today, and he refused to give the full refund of the deposit.
Moreover, my wife and I believe there were other factors influencing the decision for AES to pull out of the project, with Mr. ****** using the minor incident aforementioned as an excuse to back out of project 2. According to ***** ***** Mr. ******'s #2, the contractor, *****, has been having personal issues and is now taking time off.
Overall, my wife and I are extremely put out by this ordeal. If we had tried to back out of project 2, we would have forfeited a portion or all our deposit. With AES backing out, they have no penalty and even unjustly secure unearned payment.
We would like for AES to refund the remaining balance of $3785.14.
The remaining balance of the basement project will be settled once the work is completed with final inspection, and after all expenses put into the project are thoroughly reviewed by AES and ourselves.
We have one contract that included the basement and upstairs bathroom. We wanted to do both projects at the same time and the homeowner refused to allow us to proceed with both at the same time. We agreed to proceed with the basement and then the bathroom as per the customers request. During the process of doing the basement the wife was great to work with, however the husband was very difficult and disrespectful toward our men on the job. We continued to work to get the basement done even thought the husband became more increasingly difficult and unreasonable. After I made a decision to not do the bathroom work and refund his money, he, in his own words via an email, wrote to my estimator stated "I want to apologize for the way I spoke with both you and ***** regarding the downstairs project and any other time I may have been abrasive and/or confrontational. It is an undesirable quality of mine that I struggle to control." He further stated, "I think that the AES team, and ***** especially, have been doing a great job that both ****** and I are very happy with."
He was asking that we reconsider and continue working for them in the bathroom project. After talking with my team and the foreman *****, I made a decision that it's in the best interest of the customer and the company to return the customers money, less the money due as we had completed the project with all we could do at the time. The customer was waiting for a custom wood step and a light to come in for us to finish. I had advised him to let us know when he received them and we would come back and do both projects at the same time. We did all we could do until they received the product they ordered outside the company. On Tuesday November 5 he and his wife emailed us stating the items has come in and also emailed a punch out list. We went out on Friday November 8 and Monday November 11, 2013 and resolved all the issues on the punch out list.
It is the companies position that we were done with the job as much as was under our control. Monies owed or not owed to the company did not control our response to the customer. As soon as the customer had what they needed, we responded immediately to complete the install of those items and also complete seven minor touch up the customers desired upon our return. The Mrs. inspected the work with ***** and gave her approval of work completed.
In reference to the customers comment about the installer taking time off, I did indeed give him two days off due to being exhausted by the last couple of days trying to work with the husband. The installer was not dealing with outside personal problems, only requested a couple of days to recuperate from this job.
also, I emailed back in forth with the customers over some reimbursement for allowances and mailed them back money due for under spending on their material allowances. The customer is currently holding up the final inspection awaiting an electrician to upgrade their smoke detectors. AES has completed our contract and we are more than happy to return to do any needed service work under our Five Year Free Labor Warranty program. The Mrs. called the estimator Monday, November 12, and stated the globe of the stair sconce broke and she will pick up another one and let us know when to come and install it. AES has fulfilled the contract and all remaining work falls under the guidelines of service. It was not and never has been the intention of AES to cheat the customer in any way. We would have liked to do the upstairs bathroom, but unfortunately due to the aforementioned cannot continue to work in these conditions.
Final Consumer Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
This will be the final time that I address AES's responses to my complaint. I will address each numbered item aforementioned by AES:
1) This response is simply full of unjustified excuses. Bottom line is this: the work and a significant amount of touch-up work was not completed when the balance was unjustly withheld from the deposit from the other project. Had a walk-through been performed prior to AES withholding money, this would have been noted (a walk-through was never performed). The owner of AES made too many assumptions before prematurely taking our money. The explanation about the plumbing situation is really inexcusable since everyone working for AES and everyone hired outside their company is still ultimately AES's responsibility. The owner of AES can keep on making his assumptions that I'm upset and intended to "cheat" him out of his money all day long. This is completely presumptuous of him and, I believe, clearly shows his motivation for retaining the balance unjustly and prematurely, all the while ignoring what is clearly written in the contract. Only one party involved is currently guilty of "cheating".
2) Yes, all of the final inspections are passed and completed as of last week... After all inspections failed initially (not one item was the fault of us, the owners). The stair tread situation only delayed inspection by ~1 1/2 weeks. All other delays were on AES.
**Special note: the touch up work is STILL NOT COMPLETED, but should be done by today. Do I really need to allude to the attached contract again regarding "touch-up work" and payment?
3) This explanation about the HVAC situation is full of inaccuracies. Never was it explained to us that AES would give us allocations, then do all the work they thought necessary, then deal with whatever costs were above certain allocations. What WAS explained was that if they go under allocations, we get the difference, and IF OVER, THEY INFORM US BEFORE THEY PROCEED WITH THAT PARTICULAR PORTION OF WORK. This actually happened a few times throughout the project without an issue. As an example, they needed to move some pipes around which would cost an additional $1100. AES ran this by us, and we agreed, paid the extra $1100, and said nothing more about it. By AES's logic, they could have arbitrarily spent $10000 for the HVAC (more than $7000 over our budget), then asked for the difference after project completion. Would any homeowner be accepting of such action? Now, of course this dollar amount is pretty over the top, but does define the point I'm trying to make. At what dollar amount above cost allocation would AES deem it appropriate to run it by the homeowner before moving forward? Although a smaller amount over budget, $800 still deserves the same notice prior to AES making this unilateral decision. Additionally, AES should have been more accurate in its cost allocation regarding the space. The size of the space and HVAC unit capable of servicing such space should have more been predicted more accurately on their end, period.
Not to mention, I still question the overall cost of the HVAC unit itself and associated accessories.
**All statements following the final numbered topic #3 are really irrelevant to my complaint. AES has successfully stalled long enough by going back and forth through the BBB to finally complete their project a FULL 6 WEEKS after my initial complaint was filed and unjustly retained payments prematurely without appropriate steps taken prior to retaining these funds.
My hope is now that through this complaint process that the calculating and unprofessional nature of AES is made more available to the potential consumer.
In summary, AES disregarded contractual obligations, inappropriately retained funds prematurely in a very calculating manner, and was not forthright nor professional in adhering to cost allocations. And, just to let AES know, my wife feels the exact same way (so, please don't try to use her as your advocate... AES has absolutely no idea what they are talking about when alluding to her feelings regarding this project).
Final Business Response
I am very sorry that this ended the way it did. This is a very unfortunate situation. Everything was very happy with the customers until I made a decision to not do the bathroom upstairs because of the way the Mister was treating my installation crew.
The job turned out very beautiful and will add many years of enjoyment with usable space in the basement. I believe AES has done everything possible to bring this to a happy conclusion concerning the job being fully completed.
After being in business for over 24 years, we have many very happy customers and are happy to give references to all of our potential clients. We back our work up with a 5 Year Free Labor Warranty even though the Maryland only requires one year. To all consumers reading this, please feel free to call me personally if you have any questions as I am a working owner and available to speak directly to you.