NSW Overcharged more than 400% estimated cost

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by Sanjaya Shrestha, 7 November 2018.

  1. Sanjaya Shrestha

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    The plaintiff, Building Inspector, has lodged case against me for collection of his undue payment. The plaintiff had referred "Mercantile Law - Sale of Goods and Services" under Commercial list and sought the reason of claim as the contract with him includes only cost estimation and subject to change.
    "Work done or materials provided by the plaintiff for the defendant at the defendant's request, pursuant to Rule 14.12 of the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 2005 (NSW)."

    I consider this as overcharging where intermediate invoice is more than 4 folds (400 times) the estimated cost for the service by adopting unfair practices to overcharge. Further the report is not delivered in the acceptable form. His timesheet includes site visit plus travel time 8.375 hour and report preparation for 53.95 hours. His work is related with producing the evidence report where he relied on visual inspection of the house and data collection using simple tools spirit level, tape, plumb bob, etc.

    Please advise if I am obliged to pay the remaining about 3 times of the estimate for service which is not fit for purpose which is explained in below section. Please also suggest me if I would be able to recover the deposited amount as I had to engage another expert by terminating the contract. Before terminating the contract, i had sought his opinion to continue work as per estimate with 10 to 20% variation as acceptable condition.

    Unsatisfactory professional misconduct
    A.Service not provided with acceptable care by adhering to the best practices
    1.Work undertaken by inspecting the site and then not engage time to prepare report till the report submission deadline date
    2.Overspending time by doing out of scope work
    3.Overspending time for data collection on minute details
    4.Not notified for increase in cost estimation even after the site visit
    5.Not notified for work already done beyond the deposited amount
    6.Report missed the first deadline and was submitted on last day of submission date to NCAT without consideration reasonable time required for me to compile the report.

    B.Professional Conduct not complying in accordance to NCAT Code of Conduct
    1.Scott Schedule is prepared without proper scope of work where details on estimate cost calculation and work order for rectification work.
    2.Technical content of the report where report is misleading
    3.Error in report were not rectified and suggested rectification if reported by NCAT respondent parties.
    4.Money order for rectification work on defects on the house is extremely high which is $494900. As an example, I have recently received the repair quote of around $22K plus 5K for material whereas the report cost in the report is in the figure of around $75K. Filling the silicon gap on one side of door is quoted $700.

    C.Report is not concise.
    The reader needs to devote lot of times as the report is not concise, content error, formatting error including wrong figure naming, figure caption, etc.

    Chronological Order of Events
    Quote was requested with Scope of Work to produce NCAT Expert Witness Report.
    Estimate was given in the contract though detail information has been provided
    Contract was accepted with 100 percent of payment of requested deposit amount.
    The Expert inspected the site.
    The Expert missed the deadline to submit the report to me and the report to NCAT. Deadline was extended.
    The Expert provided the report on final day of submission deadline.
    I had no option than to submit the report to NCAT on hardcopy and the respondent by email.
    The Expert sent the invoice.
    Terminated the contract as the expert is not willing to make amendment on estimated price
    Engaged another expert for submitting the second report.
     
  2. Rob Legat - SBPL

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    Just on the basis that you’ve been charged four times the quoted fee, you’d stand a decent chance of being successful - unless there is conduct by which you’ve agreed to the charge, such as agreeing to ‘get it done urgently’. Even then, it may not mean he’s entitled to the full amount.

    Then there’s the issues of the quality of the report and the timing of its delivery. The quality will depend on an objective analysis, and you may need some expert evidence on that unless it’s clearly substandard. But even then you’re relying on a court or tribunal’s view of what is clearly substandard. A believable expert will make that easier.

    The timing of the delivery of the report may be relevant, unless he delivered it by the day you asked for it. Not saying that you did this, but For everyone’s future reference: never allow an expert to get you a report on the day it is due for filing. If you do, you can be stuck with what you’ve received whether it is suitable or not. Get it earlier, to allow it to be reviewed. You should never use this buffer to ask the expert to change what they’re saying, but they may need to be asked to clarify something or consider a question from a different perspective.
     
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  3. Sanjaya Shrestha

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    Thanks for your feedback. I am very much concerned particularly on the fee agreement contract which includes "At this stage it is impossible to give an estimate of fees in a matter such at this as they will be related to the number of matters identified. Our fees will be calculated using the hourly rates. ......please note this is an estimate and is subject to change." However, I had given the detail information about the scope of work and he did not inform me for any revision of price after the site visit by which stage number of matters were identified. I am in opinion that he should have prepared the report within the estimated budget which fulfills the purpose to produce as NCAT Expert Witness Report and should not be intended as Defects Report, Prepurchase report. The expert had explanation that the report is prepared for NCAT and I do not have to agree on the report about the correctness, scope of the report. Further his opinion is to make amendment on the report upon the NCAT respondent response. This will surely add extra cost for his service to amend the report.
    I had requested to submit the report 6 days before the submission deadline. After site inspection, he did nothing to prepare the report till the submission deadline based on his timesheet provided with invoice.
     
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