Lesson Learned: Paying Upfront

August 2021, we received a recommendation on a gentleman that was known to perform brightwork and other topside tasks. We viewed some of his work and were excited to get in touch with some work we wanted done on the boat. We later contacted him and was given a quote to sand and repaint our topside decks with new non-skid paint. The quote for the topsides came to roughly $3500, with an additional $1000 if he were to include the cockpit.

This person, we shall call him F__, assured us that he would take care of ordering all supplies and, depending on a good weather window, would begin work. In order to provide the necessary supplies, F__ requested a deposit to which we wrote a check for $1000.

Weeks and then months began to pass and each time we would reach out to get a timeline, we were assured that we just required a “good weather window.” As the months rolled by, even when we had clear skies and low-humidity, we heard nothing from F__. There was little to no communication on his part and we began to suspect something wasn’t quite right.

Fast forward to June 2022, and we were finally able to get in touch with F__ and was assured that he was still interested in the work and would begin assisting with the deck painting. Once again, he stated that he was “ordering the paint this week,” which we had grown leery of hearing, but continued to trust that he was on top of the task. I, Shawn, planned to assist in the the sanding and painting in order to speed up the process. F__ expressed no issue with this plan and insisted that he was still interested and intent on accomplishing the job.

We started sanding and he actually showed up for a total a 17 hours (at a quoted rate of $10/hour) but still had not ordered the paint. Counting all of the “supplies” he brought, I could barely justify $100 as to costs. He arrived with 2 rolls of edging tape, 3 packs of sanding disks, and 2 bags of aluminium oxide powder for the paint coating. Our $1000 still had not been used to order the paint.

As stated above, we had the pleasure of F__ for 3 partial days, for about 17 hours worth of sanding work on his part. Then he just ghosted us. We received no response to calls, or text messages. He failed to even walk over to communicate with us given that he lives in the same marina. Shannon and I then just decided to order the paint ourselves.

We sent messages asking when we could expect him back and received no reply what-so-ever.

Shannon and I ended up finishing the entire deck ourselves and we have yet to receive any kind of refund from our deposit. We could no be more proud of the work she and I did. The deck looks amazing and the new non-skid really helps move around deck safely.

There is a lesson here. Even if people “act” friendly and professional in the beginning, be careful in handing over too much money as a down-payment, regardless of recommendation or assurances. Some people have no honor, no morals, and no issue with taking your money and vanishing without a word or a trace. It really sucks to be constantly reminded about the worst parts of people and discovering repeatedly that few seem to have any kind of work-ethic anymore. I cant help but wonder if this is just a New Bern thing or if it is an endemic problem elsewhere as well.

This was a relatively cheap lesson in terms of money, but reminded us just how swarmy and untrustworthy people can be.

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