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What to do when your customer refuses to pay

When Builders Destroy

What do you do when a customer refuses to pay for work done?

Take them to court? A lengthy and costly process. Ask nicely and hope they pay? A reasonable yet most likely fruitless approach.

How about knocking down all your work? Sounds a bit drastic, but might at least give you that delightful release. 

Ever since people started paying others to build or fix things, people have also been refusing to pay. It’s an age-old problem and one that comes with a few pleasant options. Legal proceedings can take months and often end up costly for everybody involved. There is a degree of trust involved on both sides and when one of those sides doesn’t deliver, things can get ugly. 

After failing to pay a £7,300 bill, a woman in Cheshire watched in horror as this group smashed apart their own work in her garden.

The video which was uploaded to Facebook includes this somewhat Godfather Esque statement from the ring leader before the destruction unfolded. Watch our video here on You Tube

‘This is what happens when you try and have me off for £7,300. Smash the whole place to bits.’

According to reports, the police were called to the property but no arrests were made. 

A firm favourite from 2008 is this clip that appeared on Sky News, in which builders destroy a conservatory and a front porch after the owner refused to pay the agreed £15,000. The highlight of the news piece is undoubtedly the interview with the builder with his sledgehammer casually slung over his shoulder. His take on things is wonderfully honest while also being slightly unsettling.  

‘Very satisfying to knock it all down and see the lady get what was coming to her – but gut-wrenching at the same time’

The internet is awash with these tales of woe and blind rage. But the problem is that legally it’s still a very grey area. While builders are technically within their rights to reclaim materials used, wanton destruction can easily lead to a court case, as was seen in this story in which a builder’s crazed demolition of a conservatory was captured on CCTV and played in court. 

Look, we get it. When you feel like you’ve been cheated it must feel truly amazing to destroy something with a sledgehammer as payback. In fact, I can’t think of too many better ways of relieving tension than swinging a giant hammer through a wall. But the police tend to take a fairly dim view on crazed assaults on houses these days and while it might be the greatest two and half minutes of your life (insert sexual innuendo if needed) that release will soon be over and you’ll probably be left at the start of a lengthy legal journey. 

So what can be done instead? 

We’d love to be able to offer a new and satisfying alternative, but dealing with customers who don’t pay is a difficult situation to address.

Your best bet is documenting and record the work carefully then seek mediation or other legal alternatives. It’s not nearly as satisfying as swinging a sledgehammer, but let’s be honest, what is? At least this way you’ll have a fighting chance of getting paid without falling into legal problems yourself. We wrote a good post on how to protect yourself from getting knocked here. 

And if you really feel the need to smash up a room, try Wreck Room. The legal way to get out that wild destructive side that lies in us all.    

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