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Canceling a contract involves some work

Posted by Mitch Lipka  February 11, 2014 10:49 PM

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flooded basement.jpgQ. In the spring we met with Basement Technologies at our house on the Cape to discuss the installation of a French drain. Like many others last spring, we had water in our basement. That day we paid a $3,000 deposit. We later decided to cancel the project as we realized this solution wouldn’t work in our case. We have called the salesman’s cell multiple times without getting a response. A few weeks ago the company sent someone to meet with us. He took pictures and said that they would be back in touch. We’ve not heard back. We spoke with someone else to check on the refund, but she always promises to “call right back.” Can you help?

Bruce Richardson, Brookline

A. It’s never easy sorting out situations that have played out over a long period. But a request to Basement Technologies’ President James Pratt to check on the matter certainly expedited things.

A short while later came a detailed explanation, an apology over the misunderstanding, and the promise of a full refund.

“As you may know, we have been serving thousands of New England homeowners for the past two decades and enjoy a very good reputation for solving wet basement problems with our patented systems and products,” said Gary Iskra, executive vice president at the company. “Also, please accept our apology on the confusion regarding the status of their original order and the delayed finalization of it.”

The contract had, as is common, a three-day right to cancel with a full refund. After that, cancellation is subject to the loss of 20 percent of the estimate.The company waived the charge in this case.

In other words, you’d normally be on the hook for a lot of money. So even if there’s a handshake and a smile and an agreement that all is well, it’s important to get a contract cancellation agreement in writing.

That way there will be a clear record about what happens from there, preferably that if no work is done, the contract can be canceled with a full refund of the deposit, without penalty. This could have ended much differently.

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About the author

Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at


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