Can landscape contractor charge design fee and keep it because I cancel the deal?

I hired this landscape contractor. He said he will design for a fee and the amount can be applied toward installation later. I paid him $300 deposit, but he kept canceling(3 times) conceptual drawing meeting. After waiting for three weeks, I told him that I am no longer interested in going forward with him because how he kept postponing just initial drawing phase. He said the deposit is non-refundable, and he doesn't want to give his initial drawing either. I offered that I would take half the amount as refund, to be fair. Contract only says the design fee will be applied toward installation cost. He said he will refund $150 and the check will be in the mail the next day. That was 1 week ago.

10 Comments on “Can landscape contractor charge design fee and keep it because I cancel the deal?

  1. Did you sign anything? If so, read what you signed. You might be stuck. If not, how large is the town where you live? Can you possibly spread the word not to use him? If so, he may come around to your way of thinking.
    Did you pay him by check or CC? CC you may be able to get a refund regardless; otherwise, if neighborhood diplomacy does not work, you may need to go to small claims court.
    Sometimes just filing is enough to get your money back.
    Good luck~
    c-r

  2. surley you have paid for the initial drawing, if he has not delivered anything he owes you a refund, try a stiff well worded letter and start proceedings if he doesn`t pay up

  3. Did you have a contract? If you did, you can enforce it. If not, you are at the mercy of small claims court.
    Does he realize he cannot sell designs? Only landscape architects can. He’s violating the terms of his license. Mentioning this to him might help him change his mind and give you your deposit back.

    Chances are pretty good he never did any drawing at all.

    Keep a record of everything that was said, when and who said it. That will help you in court. And contact the BBB immediately. At least that will make him take time to answer your complaint. Time he could’ve taken to finish the sketch and get started on your work.

  4. He has a choice. He can either refund your money or give you the design that you already paid for. He can’t keep both. If he gives you a design that does not look professional, something just scribbled on a piece of paper, sue him. Send him a certified letter letting him know you will be taking him to court. That should be enough to get him to either pay or produce the design. If you have to sue, be sure to add the court costs of filing and the price of the certified letter to the amount he owes you.

  5. take him to court… and you should get all the money back and tell him to keep the design

  6. I cant believe that he would be too busy in this economy to be able to turn away work. You should get the drawing he has done. But at the same time he has spent time on the job so he should get some kind of pay. I draw up plans and give free estimates. The plans belong to me unless they sign the contract for the job or want to buy materials through me. The person who said that he cant sell plans isnt correct. You dont have to be a landscape architect to sell landscape plans. It would be different if he had purchased the materials for the job and you backed out. Then I would say that you wouldnt get your deposit back because he has the materials ordered. The only problem you’d have if you took him to small claims court is that you canceled the contract, not him. It isnt very professional of him to keep canceling the meetings however. Landscapers like him make us all look bad.

  7. Nope, take the guy to small claims court.
    If he was the 1 canceling, not you; he owes you the full amount back.
    Good thing you found out now, the work would have been shoddy and probably not finished, at a loss of much more money to you.

  8. I think a deposit means exactly that. You gave him, the deposit to do the job. Then you cancelled. Regardless what he did you cancelled. If you put a deposit on anything else and do not go through with the deal you do not usually recieve your deposit back. This landscaper may not be underworked, he may be overworked. That might be his reason for cancelling he might be very busy and a very little comprehending does go along way. Did weather stop him? Was he always the 1 cancelling? Has he organised to do your job and now missed out on others, because he had made the schedule to do your gardens? I would say that it all sounds a bit say say if you ask me. I do not think you should get the deposit as it was you who cancelled and a deposit is a deposit and exactly that.

  9. You have a case against him. If he didn’t produce a design then he cannot keep any portion of the money.

    He will try to wear you out by stringing you along! Fight and do not let down!

    First, call the bank immediately and cancel your check deposit (they will charge you, but it will eliminate your problem all together). If too late to cancel, then go to your local courthouse and file a small claims against him (you don’t need to retain an attorney to do this). Also file a complaint against him to your local Better Business Bureau.

    Lesson learned: put EVERYTHING in writing next time such as how much time is allowed to lapse for consultation meetings and the design to be presented. Example: contract is voided if longer than two weeks for initial consultation meeting and/or design presentation.

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