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“Contractor” convictions: teachable moments for the good guys

Whenever a conviction goes down, there's a lesson to be learned


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October 5, 2017 by John Bleasby

A fake electrician is sent to jail and fined thousands of dollars for installing pot lights without a license. Another is convicted for advertising electrical services on-line he had no right to perform. One contractor, and then another, is charged and convicted for taking the money and running, yet another for failing to provide a legally compliant contract.

Learning from the mistakes of others
Reports of criminal behavior by a few bad apples hurt the industry as a whole. At the same time, there are lessons to be learned. Of course, legitimate contractors and trades people like you should always take the time to explain to your prospect that you are a professional operator with a reputation for high levels of customer satisfaction. You’ve got referrals and references to prove that. However, there is more to be gained from contractor convictions than that.

Only perform work you are licensed to perform
Maybe it’s tempting to change a few pot lights while you are installing new kitchen cabinets during a renovation. However, if you are not licensed as an electrician, don’t do it. Electricity is no kid’s game —you know that. Bring in the right people to do the work required, be it electrical or otherwise.
Case in point, our coverage last month
“A Brampton, ON man felt the full force of the law two weeks ago, penalized for installing pot lights in several area homes while falsely representing himself as a licensed electrician and without an Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) inspection. David John had been promoting both himself and his companies as “licensed electrical contractors” specializing in pot light installation, using flyers, signs and on-line advertisements. John was sentenced to five days in jail and ordered to pay a $40,000 fine.
read more….

Be careful how you advertise your services on-line
The internet is a wonderful tool for promoting your renovations and building services. Just be careful how you promote those services that require licenses.
Case in point, our coverage only last week…
“Yvon Richer had been advertising his unlicensed electrical services for several years, including on Kijiji. … Ontario’s Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) together with the courts finally caught up with him.  On Sept. 13, 2017, the Orleans, ON man was fined $10,000 plus another $2,500 in victim surcharges by an Ottawa court. Richer did not defend himself, did not enter a plea, and did not appear in court.” [It was Richer’s second conviction for unlicensed electrical work}
read more…

Do you know what trades need to be licensed in your province?
This guide from Trusted Pros might help.

 Is your contract legal under your province’s laws?
Depending on the regulations in your province, you may not be permitted to take more than a certain amount of deposit in advance of work performed, and most certainly not the whole amount upfront. You might get away with it, but if your behavior combines with incomplete or shoddy workmanship that can lead to serious consequences.
Case in point…
Two people associated with the Ottawa firm Orleans Caulking, “were convicted of two counts of providing a contract that did not comply with the regulations of the [Ontario] Consumer Protection Act, 2002” according to a release from the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. The owner of the company was ordered to pay $10,000 restitution to one client and $7,000 to the other. His employee was fined $500. Both customer victims were seniors. What led to the charges and convictions was not whether the work was done or not done —it was the contracts themselves.

Need help understanding what needs to be in a contract?
This CHBA website might help.

If you take the money, do the work
It seems obvious, doesn’t it? Your client pays you and you do the work. Not everyone does that, unfortunately. Some take the money and run. That’s a bad move that guarantees trouble

Case in point…
An interior design-build company in Mississauga ON was fined along with its director for taking a $15,597.96 deposit representing 50% of the projected total cost and then not performing the work, according to a recent release from the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. The company was fined $2,000; the director personally fined another $2,000 plus ordered to refund the full deposit amount.

What happens to these companies and the people behind them?
Even though there’s always two sides to a story, we rarely hear from the individuals or companies charged and convicted. Often they plead guilty in court without offering a defence, then disappear. The companies go bankrupt and close their doors. Mail goes undelivered, the websites are shut down. That in itself is a lesson to be learned —once convicted, it’s pretty much game-over for these companies. Often the individuals associated with them are placed on court-ordered probation. Furthermore, through the magic of the internet and social media, the names and reputations of those directly involved are tarnished.

Don’t be that person. Learn from these convictions by take the time to review the way you promote yourself, how you draw your contracts, and the manner with which you conduct your work.

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