Situation advice requested

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I'd like to solicit information on how to best deal with a situation I ran into today.
After getting a few detailed estimates and getting a recommendation from a colleague who owns an apartment complex, we hired a company to come in and replace our boiler last week with a new, high-efficiency model ($5k+). The company is a small one and hires contract labor to help them. They're licensed and insured, etc. I think they did a great job, they were polite, the owner was on site after the first group came in and they worked quietly (as they could).
Anyway, today my wife went to pull out this evening's dinner from the chest freezer in our utility room and discovered that the power cord that runs from the chest freezer to the outlet set near the boiler had been unplugged. We just hauled 5 heavy-duty contractor bags worth of food to the garage to be thrown out.
I track what we buy because we buy a lot of it in bulk (bulk meat from a butcher and we belong to 2 CSA's) and the freezer is 9cubic feet or something close to it, so I know that we just threw away about $500 worth of meat and produce (on-sale, bulk price ... multiple times that amount at the regular price).
I know that the plug was pulled by the contractors, because it's in a spot that the kids cannot reach, we've never had a problem with them in the utility room before and it's the likely spot the contractor's would have likely used to plug in their tools due to its location.
I could not prove that nobody else pulled the plug because it happened a week ago.
I'm relatively non-confrontational and would rather not deal with major problems, but this is $500 worth of food ... a lot of which was not only bought, but prepped or made into soups, stews, etc. for consumption through the winter, so there was a cost there too.
So on the one hand, I probably should have checked the entire room after they left. On the other, I didn't unplug the thing and it was something that they did that would have never happened if they had not been here.
If you were the company owner, would you fight the assertion? Would you want to know so your guys don't screw up on another job? Is it easier to deal with off-the-record, or file a claim?
As a customer, what would you do?
TIA.
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I would call the owner of the company, calmly and politely say exactly what you have said here.
What I did next would depend on his/her reaction to what I said.
I would not be a happy contractor but I would want to know.
Considering the liability rates and deductibles I would settle the claim if I though my guys did it. And to be honest I think most legit contractors will do the same.
Colbyt
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Colbyt wrote:

That's what I'd do. They probably pulled the plug in order to use a power tool and just forgot about putting hte other plug back in. Dumb, yes. Malicious, no. A reputable contractor will pay up.
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-snip-

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As a customer, I'd call the contractor and lay it out like you did here. Polite, but firm-- and see what he offers. I would be hoping to recover half- I'd kick my own ass for not noticing the freezer plug myself.
Then- as a homeowner I'd buy one of these for $15 (Amazon.com product link shortened)61613189&sr=8-2
I bought one after one of the kids left the freezer door open-- It has paid for itself several times over in the past 3 years. Just figuring $300 in food average- each time it alerts to a problem it has paid for itself 20times over. Shop around- I think I paid $10 for mine.
Jim
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wrote:

(Amazon.com product link shortened)61613189&sr=8-2
Anyone that has a freeze or even a refrig that isn't accessed at least daily should invest in one of these. Contractor error, kids, blown breaker, dead compressor, you name it - they are cheap insurance for several hundred dollars in lost food.
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Yes its his fault, yes its a bit your fault, throwing away food-money is no fun. You should get a freeze alarm. I think some units have them built in. Next time it will be a fuse or the lid was open or the unit broke. He should pay but what % is fair, I dont know. If he denies the issue and says no then you should get 100%+, see what he says and tell us.
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Jim, The reviews point to a low-volume alarm. What is your experience?
Thank you, Dave
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On Sun, 27 Dec 2009 12:05:50 -0800 (PST), "tom snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com"

That isn't the one I have-
I got 2 of these- http://www.nationalmarineproducts.com/SearchResults.asp?Search=alarm Can't find anything but "Made in China" on it.
My only complaint is that they aren't real instinctive to set- so don't lose the directions. . . . and if they are put someplace where they can get brushed up against, it is easy to turn the alarm function off. [the display still shows temp-- and there is a little bell to tell if the alarm is on or off]
It isn't loud, but it sure carries. My freezer is in a pantry off the kitchen. If I'm watching TV 3 rooms away, I hear it loud and clear. [well- not so loud-- but it is clear as can be]
I am 60ish- and my hearing is questionable at times-- but maybe it is just one of those pitches that works for me.
Jim
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I hate it when the volume goes down, on my freezer.
--
Christopher A. Young
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If you are dealing with an honest contractor, and you explain the situation as you did here, he will pay the damages, or turn it over to his insurance company to handle the claim. There should be no need to become confrontational.
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as a business owner, I want customers to come to me when they have a problem. Just call him over, and explain it to him. You don't need to be confrontational , just matter of factual. If he is a decent and honest contractor he will call his guys in and ask them. Please just give him a chance to do the right thing.....all good ones will try and work with you. If nothing gets done, then seek other options. I hated nothing more than people being mad and complaining to friends without at least letting me have a chance to fix the problem......Merry Christmas

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Even an honest contractor may balk at paying these damages. After all he may not be that sure as you are that it was his fault or so sure about the cost of the damages. Did somone unplug it or did it come out from vibration of someone hammering? What happened may be more of a mystery to him than it is you. I have a friend who owned a building supply business who lost $50,000 worth of paint because a contractor installing an alarm system accidentally unplugged an electric heater that my friend relied upon to keep the paint from freezing in the winter. The contractor had no prior knowledge of the possible results of his actions. My friend tried to sue for damages. He lost because he had taken insufficnt care to insure that something like this couldnt happen, had not cautioned the contractor about the importance of the heater and he had no proof that the contractor had caused the problem.
Jimmie
Jimmie
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I agree with calling the contractor and explaining what happened.
In the event he tells you to go play in traffic, then follow up with a certified letter demanding reimbursement for your damages.
If he does not pay, then you file in small claims court.
Part of the things I would do is to itemize the loss the best you can, as the burden of proof will be on you to prove the amount of your loss. You probably should have offered the contractor the right to inspect the loss as soon as you discovered it.
--

Roger Shoaf

About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
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Sadly, you missed your first window, and that was CALLING HIM AS SOON AS YOU HAD KNOWLEDGE. Is that gonna happen again?
Moving along, call him. Explain what happened. Ask what he will do.
He may pay for it all. If he is difficult, move up the ladder to the Contractor's Board, or whatever governmental agency handles these things in your jurisdiction.
If he's difficult, it's best to put it this way:
"You know, I'm not really sure what to do here. So, I think I'll just file a report to XXXXXXXXX, and let them decide the issue."
Most contractors don't like having marks on their records, and are willing to smooth things over. Sounds like an honest mistake. Give him an honest chance to fix it.
And be 100% sure. Sometimes our little "darlings" can twist their heads around backwards and spit split pea soup when no one's watching. Steve
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wrote:

TIA wrote:
I think they did a great job
Guess not.
I had to eat my profit once when a guy I was working with unplugged the clients satellite TV which deleted his programming many years ago. The way I see it is the company that you hired was not small enough.
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tom snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

The freezer is YOUR responsibility. Knowing contractors were working in the area should have been an indicator that YOU should check things after they leave.
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Van Chocstraw wrote:

I was leaning that way, especially if the freezer had been moved. If the freezer had been moved, then homeowner would make sure it was in working order when replaced. It seems to me that it would be extraordinarily good fortune if the contractor agreed to even partial reimbursement. But, again, it would be lame-brained for anyone to KNOWINGLY unplug a freezer and not take care to replug it.
For the homeowner, I wonder whether they observed the work regularly? I sure would have. Did you wonder where they plugged in, or even suggest beforehand what outlets they should use? When I have work done, I arrange for stuff like that, but haven't had boiler work done. Does homeowners' policy cover the loss? Contractor's insurance?
When I have work done, I make ready for it....remove anything that would be in the way, protect stuff that might be scratched or dirtied. If I know the water or power will be off a while, I account for that. If I have the fridge repaired, I empty it and wrap/insulate the food, lay an old towel to catch runoff when freezer thaws, etc.
We had a major kitchen re-do, with a skilled and careful contractor. IIRC, it took about a week. I watched a lot of what he did, and caught two fairly major problems. One prob. was the miter of the countertop being off just a hair - I brought it to his attention and he corrected it without problem. Throughout, he seemed very professional and careful, but perhaps he just didn't see what I saw.
When we bought a new washer, the delivery was hurried and on a Sunday. Two guys to install. The laundry room is tight and in order to remove the washer it has to be lifted and tipped...there was an old, dried puddle of deterg. under the washer that I wanted to remove before they brought the new washer in. I was ready, with scraper, bucket and rags. They waited a bit impatiently, asking me to hurry. I worked as quickly as I could, but I wasn't going to leave the crud there forever....I might have added 5 minutes to their time on the job, but I got it done.
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wrote:

Ditto...When I had my garage and addition built I went around every day to "check" things out and I told them where they could hook up power and where the hose bib was for water and I checked every day to make sure the power cords were unpluged in case it rained and they could be in a puddle and the hose turned off...Caught the window RO being wrong on the very first wall they stood up...Also they would occasionally leave their compressor plugged in and running because it was around the corner plugged directly into the outlet...It wouldn't start for long periods of time so it was easy to forget so I would unplug it and set it inside for them...I KNOW how hectic a job can get sometimes and shit happens..The job went beautifull and came out great...We both did our jobs....Bottom line you should have been on top of things like that...It is YOUR part of the job..You MUST of seen them use it cause they would've had to slide it out to plug in....That said , if it were me and my guys used that outlet because it was the only one close I MIGHT split it with you if you had showed it to me when it happened and not 2 weeks later after the mess is cleaned up and the meat gone....Then it's just your word ...Tough luck..Live and learn....JMHO....
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wrote:

You are an intelligent experienced worker. What about someone who hires a contractor who isn't as experienced, and trusts the contractor to do the correct things.
You do have a point about the wait. In my first post, I chided the OP for waiting so long.
In the case of me having to do work that the contractor should have done, I just either hold out or backbill at my normal $80 per hour rate.
Steve
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wrote:

In my case I CHOSE to run my own job rather than hiring a GC so I knew going in..
Yeh ,I see your point about homeowners that don't know any better... But still , if I had seen guys unpluging my freezer to use the outlet or knew that was the likely spot for them to use , I would have told them to plug in somewhere else and made sure the freezer was plugged back in...Common sense...To look the other way and not even check with that much money invested is , well no other way to put it I guess , STUPID.....And so was the idiot employee who was to lazy to ask about other outlets to use....Like I said if he had called me as soon as it happened I would split it with him to keep it out of insurance claims and the likely court battle..2 weeks after the fact with only his word to go on...No way...Not in todays world...I'ld let the insurance company deal with it..If you have work done in your home it is a good idea to keep an eye on things...If you are not up to it have a friend stop over and check things out...Like I said...Sometimes shit happens....That's why I carry insurance...Camera phone has saved me once or twice as well...Knew we were going to bring drywall through an upstairs window with a boom truck and took photos of the window and trim as it was already badly dinged up by the builders or whoever and sure enough they tried to blame me being the last one to remove the window and bring stuff in...One look at the pics and there were some red faces...Don't know who paid but it wasn't me....LOL...There was a scratch on a tub that I took a photo of before we started sheetrocking that saved me once too....Just seeing me snap photos has probably saved me a few times as well....Thet always seem to blame the drywallers for everything being the last ones in and out besides the painter...LOL......
To the OP...Sorry you lost your food but perhaps you have learned something.....Come here for advice BEFORE you get into trouble...Much easier to fix things that way....Merry Christmas....
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