Complaint / review text:
We contracted with Starcom on April 28, 2016 to build a front portico with stone porch and stone sidewalk for $29, 000. A deposit of $9500 was paid. Starcom decided to opt out of the contract, and has not returned our $9500 deposit.
Most surprising is the “OPT OUT PROVISION” of the contract we signed (on page 4). “Either Starcom or the Owner can opt out of the Contract at any time, upon written notice, at which time Starcom will invoice the Owner for final payment of all amounts due and owing for labor performed and materials then delivered, bought or allocated and/or any obligation incurred by Starcom in the normal execution of the Contract, including a portion of project profit and overhead costs.”
In other words Starcom can decide for any reason to avoid starting any construction, then charge us an amount they determine. In our case, the evidence shows that they decided that they underestimated their contract quote, and asked for an additional $4600 from us. We refused to pay more since we made no changes whatsoever to the contract details and didn’t believe we should pay for Starcom’s mistake. So we now have no portico/sidewalk and lost $9500. Here are some details:
We became increasingly concerned as work on the project still had not started. Three times over the course of 2 months we were sent incorrect drawings for the contracted project; the stone mason and project manager Derek had a version of the drawings we had never seen, including a smaller sidewalk, no demo of existing sidewalk and shallower footing than originally contracted. These “mistakes” were apparently an attempt to reduce Starcom’s cost. Nevertheless, with each drawing mistake and delay, the Starcom salesman, Scott apologized, took ownership, and assured us “It’s a matter of trust” that he would resolve the problems and deliver the portico and stone sidewalk as we had originally contracted. Although we really wanted to get the project completed, we had offered to Scott that we would consider releasing Starcom’s contractual obligations if they would refund our $9500 deposit (if Starcom didn’t wanted to perform the work for any reason). However, Scott assured us that Starcom wanted to complete the contract.
After a discussion about the faulty drawings, Derek and Scott both called us the next day to apologize for the actions of the owner (Bob), and warn us that Bob wanted to opt out of the contract. A few days later, the fourth set of corrected drawings were sent to us by Bob. The new drawings were sufficiently correct (included original contract details, nothing more). We immediately responded with our approval of the drawings and we were looking forward to starting work. Less than 24 hours later we received an email from the owner stating that they were “opting out” of the contract. Moreover, since we had approved the drawings, he would be keeping $2900 of our $9500 deposit if we agreed to release Starcom from its contractual obligations. We refused and suggested that Starcom had the reasonable options to either complete the contract work, or return our $9500 deposit.
In retrospect it seemed like a continuing deception to charge us more for the original contract work, and/or reduce Starcom’s cost by reducing the masonry work with modified faulty drawings, and delaying the project. However, sending us corrected drawings after we were told that owner Bob decided to opt out of the contract, and luring us into approving those drawings with a false implication to start work on the project, was deceptive since Starcom was not providing these services in good faith.