Advice: The contract always wins

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A couple called me about a moving experience.

And no, not the good kind.

As the story goes, they finally decided to retire and move to their dream home in North Idaho. They came out to visit the area and decided it was just what they had been dreaming about, a near pristine land with four seasons and nice people. With the help of their real estate professional, they made an offer on a property in the rural part of Kootenai County, on the side of a small “mountain” with a nice southern exposure.

Their one-level home was the perfect place to begin what they hoped would be a long and peaceful retirement. They decided to make the move, lock stock and barrel, late last spring. They were in no hurry. so they took their time and talked with several moving companies, both regional and national. After careful thought, they selected one of the companies to effect their move.

To keep costs to a minimum, they decided to do their own packing. All their possessions were carefully wrapped and packed in boxes. The big day finally came. Three movers arrived at the appointed time with a large, brightly colored truck. Within a few short hours, all their belongings were safely ensconced within the cavernous trailer of the truck. They signed the final documents and the truck departed, scheduled to arrive at their new digs in four days.

The couple decided to take a leisurely, meandering drive up to their new home in Idaho. They arrived the day before the movers, did a final walk-through of their new home, and retreated to a nearby hotel after a pleasant dinner by the lake. The next morning they could hardly wait to get to their home and meet the movers, the truck and all their furnishings.

The moving truck arrived as scheduled, but for some reason stopped on the dirt road a few hundred yards short of the couple’s new home. Finally, the husband went down and asked the driver what the hold-up was. He was informed by the driver that the truck, in the opinion of the driver, could not get any closer to the home because of the condition of the remaining dirt road and the driveway. The driver explained that, according to the small print of the contract, “if the driver deems a particular roadway, private or public, unsafe or impassable,” the driver may at that point either return to a safe point and store the homeowners’ goods until the homeowner could make other arrangements for delivery, or unload the cargo at the closest safe point to the destination.

The new homeowners immediately called the home office of the moving company and were very unsympathetically told that the driver was “only doing his job” by refusing to drive on an unsafe roadway or driveway. The homeowners elected to have the movers unload all their property along the dirt road. What a mess. Of course it started raining and the mess got muddy. Shortly thereafter, one of the homeowners’ new neighbors happened by in his truck and upon hearing the new Idahoans’ tale of woe, offered to help. Pretty soon, a whole passel of neighbors showed up with pickup trucks and even a small forklift. Within a couple of short hours, everything was carefully placed in the new home.

It wasn’t exactly the way the couple intended to meet their new neighbors, but it turned out to be unique and memorable, and I’m sure will be a great story for years to come.

THE LESSON HERE IS: READ THE FINE PRINT! Don’t assume that any contract means what you THINK it means. It only means what is written.

When there is a written agreement between the parties, it almost always supersedes any verbal promises made before the contract is signed.

•••

BE AWARE: A very competent consumer called me last week and reported a potentially dangerous situation. He’d bought a brand-new front-loading washer and gas dryer from a local big box store.

The next day the delivery store’s truck arrived at the appointed time. The consumer met the truck in the driveway, right in front of the garage door. The utility room/laundry room was right off the garage, up a couple of steps.

As the driver hopped out of the truck he explained, even before hitting the ground, that his helper called in sick and that he would need the consumer’s help in unloading, unboxing and installing the new appliances. There was no way the consumer could help; he had recently had major back surgery. In addition, the delivery guy let it slip that he had never installed a gas dryer, but “how hard could it be?”

As much as the consumer wanted to take immediate delivery of the new laundry set, he sent the truck back to the store. He then called the manager of the store and asked him to please arrange for delivery when a full, experienced crew could be arranged. Sure enough, the next morning, bright and early, the washer and dryer were installed, properly, without incident or delivery or setup charge, with the apologies of the store and the manager. All’s well that ends well.

LESSON: Don’t settle for less than you paid for AND always have a qualified, experienced person install your gas or electric appliances.

•••

TICKING TIME BOMB: Remember where you live. While it’s been forever since I’ve seen a mosquito, the ticks this year are horrible! Maybe it’s the fact that the little bloodsuckers can cling to anything and slowly make their way to a spot to quietly start getting under your skin that creeps me out.

Before you go out in the fields or woods, apply a repellent containing DEET to your ankles, legs, socks, and so on. Be very sure to check yourself and each other for ticks (some couples make a game of it!). Also be sure to get your pet a tick and flea collar or another form of vaccination. Also check the kids. Bringing these little critters in the house can be disgusting and hazardous to your health.

•••

REMEMBER BILL BROOKS: “He’s On Your Side”

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I have many more tips and interesting cases that I’m working on. Call me at 208-699-0506, or email me at brookshomes@gmail.com (#GoGetEmBillBrooks) You can follow me at http://www.billbrooksconsumer advocate.com I am available to speak about consumerism to schools, and local and civic groups. Bill Brooks is a consumer advocate and the broker and owner of Bill Brooks Real Estate in Coeur d’Alene.

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