Bill Rogers wrote a story on customer service that struck me as “what-a-coincidence.” I recently had some work done on my home. We needed a stairway remodel and I may be a plasterer, but truly awful at finish woodworking. My wife and I got two bids, and like Bill experienced, they wanted money up front. To me this was not right. I have heard of people never seeing the contractors again and they have no recourse. To some contractors, this sounds unreasonable and impossible, but it happens.

My wife got two bids - both wanted a deposit to buy materials. I was not pleased. A third contractor, the lowest bid, asked for no deposit but wanted a payment upon delivery of the materials. I could live with that. He then sent my wife a subcontracting agreement. She was now nervous. However, I was a subcontractor and read through the short contract. Very fair to both sides and in the event of a dispute, it allowed for arbitration with the loser paying the legal fees.

He was there when he promised, did a great job and got paid in full. A woman he was about to work for was nervous about the contract, my contractor had her call me. I informed her that contract was for both of them.

I was surprised how many small remodel contractors do not use contracts and want money in advance. Is this normal today?