Marlie* loved her two cats but was worried about their safety with all the cars on her street. She decided she would have a cat patio built – or a “catio” – where the cats could safely enjoy the outdoors in a special area just for them.
“I wanted them to feel the earth under their feet and be able to come and go as they please,” says Marlie. She got in touch with a local contractor who had built a “catio” before. He came over to look at the property, provided a quote and said he could start construction in about three weeks. Marlie agreed and paid a 50% deposit.
Nearly nine months later, the contractor still hadn’t started the job, citing supply issues and scheduling conflicts for the delay. Marlie was beginning to get frustrated. “He just kept making excuses.”
After more delays, Marlie asked for her money back, but the business was not cooperating. “I was upset. I’m a single mother – I work hard for my money,” says Marlie. That’s when she reached out to Consumer Protection BC.
Marlie had entered what is called a future performance contract. After learning about her rights for this type of contract, Marlie sent the business a notice of cancellation because the contract was missing some required information. When the contractor received her cancellation notice, he told Marlie to take him to court.
That’s when Consumer Protection BC investigators stepped in. After assessing the situation, they issued a freeze order on the business’s bank accounts. When the contractor realized what had happened, he contacted Consumer Protection BC and learned that Marlie was within her rights to cancel because he had failed to include required information in the contract. He agreed to refund Marlie her full deposit.
“I was amazed at how fast it happened,” says Marlie, who has since built the “catio” herself. When asked what advice she has for others in similar situations, she stresses the importance of keeping meticulous notes, getting everything in writing and to keep trying. “Don’t give up. Always persevere.”
*Names changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
Curious about your rights when it comes to contracts for work that will happen in the future?
Did you sign a contract where you don’t pay in full upfront or don’t get the goods or services immediately (such as home repairs)? If so, you may have entered what’s called a future performance contract. By law, these contracts must include specific information and, without that, may entitle you to certain cancellation rights. Find out more.
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About Consumer Protection BC
We are not-for-profit regulator responsible for overseeing certain industries and specific consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will try to offer a referral to a relevant organization, if one exists. Other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.