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ripped of by Plumber/heating person

i don't know if theres even a good outcome for this, I'm just curious if anyone has some experience with this...

the basic story is that we hired a plumber to come and check out a very old heating system, they gave us an estimate which included a large amount for materials... long story short, the work was carried out but later we see that theres no way they actually took those materials along, they said new pipes, no new pipes fitted, cleaning up the boiler which looks exactly the same.. you get the idea.. they couldn't even fix the heating system so its currently still offline?

foolishly we paid in cash and now we are wondering if theres anything at all we can do?? i know Hungary is a very different place to the UK haha..

anyway!

many thanks

koznoz :

we paid in cash and now we are wondering if theres anything at all we can do??

Did you get official itemized receipts of any type, for the materials or the labor? If so you can file a police report and take legal action. But good luck with that. Courts here are unpredictable.

If you paid and got no official receipts from the plumber, then there is nothing you can do. It will be a you-said-he-said case. Not only that, but paying someone to do work without getting an itemized receipt for their labor, with their business tax number on it, is unlawful. You can be fined for doing this. Yes, such black work is done all the time here. But it is still unlawful. So if you do not have receipts and file a complaint the plumber will probably deny he worked for you at all, which leaves only you admitting to an unlawful act. Nicely boxed in.

Frankly, either way, and unless is was really a lot of money, just chalk it up to experience. And only pay by bank transfer all tradesmen in the future.

we received a quote to begin with, which listed the items needing replaced etc, this also stated the materials cost but it was lacking details like exact costings and so.  We also received an "end of job" receipt although it was also lacking details,  not even his full name.. there is however a tax number but we suspect that this may be a fake, we couldn't even find any info about his "company" ?

the cost was 240000 (150000 for materials which we cant find, other than radiator knobs) and the heating still doesn't work so you can understand why I'm irked..

we have actually just found a web page for the company, it appears this company is filing for bankruptcy?

well, thats definitely not good in regards to getting anything back!

what a world

Unfortunately, overcharging for materials is one common scam. I know far too many expats with similar stories (myself included -- see below).

With your receipts you can file a police report. You may need to have the police come by and inspect your house to show what was and what was not done. But, I doubt that will do much good. Many such scammers will just start new business which has itself a "clean slate" and do the same all over again despite existing legal action and bankruptcies. So even if knowing the money is lost, acting on a sense of social justice alone, to stop future scams and victims, may not have value either.

We purchased a 600,000 HUF waste water treatment tool that only upon delivery from the Hungarian seller did I find out did not have the proper certificates to be used legally in Hungary (the idea that selling something retail so openly that was so illegal did not even occur to me). EU Consumer law (i.e. also required to be Hungarian law) was on our side to return the tool and get a refund. But.... Tried to return the tool to the seller, they would not take it, demanded a refund, they provided it but did not take back the tool, then later responded by filing a police report saying we stole the tool (police found we didn't), then filed legal action against us to return the refund to them (all the time refusing to take back the tool). Guess who lost in the court case? We did. The judge did not seem to care about (or understand) consumer law.

Yep. What a world. I don't do anything here on trust anymore. That boat has sailed. Everything gets checked and double checked and proper accounting is done on everything. Constant vigilance can get fatiguing. But the best way to get out of a jam is to not get into one in the first place.

wow!!

I'm really sorry to hear that.. its really awful! i knew that things here can be very confusing and backward but in my naivety i just thought it cant be all that bad!

the only positive from my experience in this is as you say, to become extra vigilant and essentially trust no one in the future, its a very quick learning curve even in simple matters

thank you so muck for your replies on this matter

much appreciated

best

Sorry to hear this, I agree with Klsallee's answer.
In the future it might be a good idea to get several quotes before agreeing to any job done.
We always look online about how any repairs are suppose to be done, we look at part prices ourselves and do some homework .
So far, knock on wood, we only needed help installing our new water heater and only because it is one of those overhead styles and way to heavy for me to hold while my husband did the bolting.

He was raised here in Hungary during the communist times and back then everyone had to learn to fix things on their own or wait and wait for a time slot for a repairman to come over.
Not fun to be a do-it yourself person but it saves in money.
We look at prices for anything, even found a place to rent a auto stall by the hour to do our own oil change.
If you do not speak Hungarian I think you are often a target for a rip off, sad to say.
There really is allot of info online about repairs for just about anything these days.
At least next time you need a repair you will have some basic knowledge.
We are "cheap" or rather thirty because of our upbringing, I suppose, we even double check prices on tiny parts, one shop wanted a 350 forints for a item and another wanted 200 for the same thing. Those small amounts do add up, enough with time for a nice little party or dinner out.
We don't have to be so thrifty but why throw away hard earned funds for nothing.
Try not to panic next time and go with the first repairman, it's hard when it comes to plumbing because they can be the scariest and dirtiest repairs.
We bought a house in S. Ca. when we were "younger and dumber" it had a major break in the water main. Everytime we went to look at the house the owner would BS us by saying they just watered the lawn, didn't notice the water running all the time until the day we moved into the house.
After spending a Kings ransom on the house we hardly had any savings left for major repairs, we hate to take any sort of bank loans for anything.
We had to call up a plumber but we called up several before going with one , we also spent our move in day digging up the front lawn to save a few bucks on the repair. Not fun but saved, I also tore down a old wooden fence by hand , wrapped  the old slots of wood in bundles for take away before we had a brand new nice brick wall put up, saved over $500. by doing it myself.
There was no internet when we had our house, we borrowed books from the library to learn how to repair tile, do a roto cleaning in the house working from the roof down, even did a acid wash ourselves in with our swimming pool, seemed like it would be over whelming to do but once you start it isn't all that hard to learn as you go, it takes being very careful though.
Learn over the internet and do a bit of the repair yourself if possible next time.

Again, sorry for your hassle, I think just about everyone at some point in time got the raw end of a deal or two.
Next time you need a repair, maybe it really would be best to try and discover what exactly needs to be fixed then even ask here for some advice before calling up a repairman.
We really got burnt bad when we bought our "dream house" in the 80's, that plumbing thing with the main being broken was really pricey, think over $800. just after handing over all of our savings to the bank to buy our home, not much ready cash was on hand and we never asked family for loans.
A friend loaned us the cash which we paid back the week later after my husband got his pay.
We really wanted to sue the seller BUT we again had been foolish and gave him 2 law suits to handle for us, he was a personal injury lawyer.
Never mix business , hard to sue your own lawyer when you have two larger cases going on.
Life is full of lessons, not all are fun.

thanks so much for the reply! means a lot to hear of others stories like this, even though its sad to hear many others have the same misfortune..

the whole thing has been miserable but your helping to feel less ashamed! its not even losing the money that hurts ( a bit of course) but rather the feeling of being cheated.. also that these guys are ripping people off all the time!! shocking

again, i wont make this mistake again.. and the plus side is that i will start to learn how to fix problems myself, at least to gain the knowledge of basics..

bless you xxx

Good luck, hey, we are 62 and 69 years old and still fall for BS, some people are just innocent and a huge target for scammers,sad.
What hurts the most is seeing our adult son get ripped.
Once my husband walked him through a brake job on his car over skype. We try, that's all one can do.

well, in a shocking turn of events... the same plumber whom already ripped us off has gotten in touch to try and rip us off again!!!

this time he's saying we agree for him to come back tomorrow and continue to do more work?? this came as a shock to us as we certainly said nothing of the sort..

he goes on to say that he even bought materials and cancelled another job for us?

all very strange.. he's definitely a scammer..

does anyone have any idea what we could do? to be honest we are a bit stressed out and anxious

If he shows up, do not let him in. If he persists, call the police and have your prior bills from him ready to show the police. And file a police report. If he threatens legal action say nothing to him, but include all such threats in the police report.

In fact, the more I think about this, if he shows up or not, you probably should file a police report, as just a proactive step to prevent further harassment. You can also send a registered letter to him stating he is not to contact you further. Any lawyer or even a public notary can send the correct type of letter for you. Some lawyers:

http://www.expat.com/en/business/europe … s/lawyers/

The US Embassy also has a list of English speaking lawyers in Hungary (you do not need to be a US citizen to use these lawyers):

https://hu.usembassy.gov/wp-content/upl … ty2016.pdf

thank you!!

yes i agree... the messages he sent were verging on threatening which spooked us out quite a bit

and its clear as day that he knows what he's doing, trying to scam us even further..

i think we shall definitely have to contact the police... the paperwork we have from him is probably bogus enough as it is, so if he does continue to threaten us it really shows his level of intelligence..

thanks for helping ease my mind a little bit, its all a bit intense

your a star

If you even "just feel" he was threatening you, do include that in the police report. In fact, I would suggest going tomorrow morning early to the police. Let him find nobody home if he comes tomorrow morning. And if he comes later, you can say (through the closed door) you already filed a police report about him and he should leave immediately, if he doesn't you will call the police. Then after he leaves, call the police and ask how to add a followup of these events to your report to keep it current.

If you can get a witness all the better (for example, invite a friend in the "know" of this issue over to be with you tomorrow at your apartment when/if he shows up).

Sorry about this. I am sure you do not need such aggravation in your life. But you do have rights here in Hungary. He just thinks he can bully you because he thinks you do not know your rights.

P.S. If your building has a sup or caretaker, tell them they are not to let anyone into your apartment under any circumstances when you are out. Too easy for a "plumber" to try to con his way into your apartment saying it way "okayed" by you. Yes, some people do fall for the "I am his sister from out of town" story, even if the tenant is an only child.

It's not a 'different country' if you learn to be a bit more careful. Always ask for identification and bills, even of the quotes - everything, on paper. That is how registered repairmen work and  if they refuse it, look for another. Never pay in advance, especially not in cash! I'm sorry for your experience but I'm not sure the police would take your side unfortunately.

I just read that the went on threatening you. Well in that case, whatever message you got from him, just show it to the police or involve a Hungarian. I hope you'll find a solution, good luck.

Good advice, go to the police and file a report for sure.
This plumber might not even realize you are on to him and his scams.
He might be lame enough to believe he pulled one over on you.
Just a shame my next door neighbor doesn't live in your house, he would take care of this "quietly" or not so quietly.
Let us know how these events turn out, take care.

On re reading your first post, you mentioned he bought allot of materials and didn't use them on your flat.
I wonder on some very off chance if his conscience got to him or if he knows he could be in some real legal trouble for his first rip off round with you?
Really too bad you can't get a few "heavy hitters" over that speak Hungarian and let him know they are watching his every move and that you have already overpaid and not giving him another penny for him to finish what he started.
I might be dreaming, it is a can of worms you can't close once you open it up. Sometimes it pays to have friends who have friends...
I suppose worst case you can talk at the door to him and ask him what the heck he is doing at your door again, Don't be bullied by this jerk. He can not enter your flat without your OK.

thanks again for the advice!!

i know, i wish there was a huge bouncer round here at times... just to sit and stare at them :D unfortunately (or not) I'm not that type, plus we don't really have many friends here.  My partner is Hungarian but has absolutely no experience in anything like this so we learn together...

update - well, he didn't show today, and sent a message saying basically "meh, we agreed i was coming on Monday, whatever, when you want me to come call me"

so i think he got the message that we don't want him to come today at least.. but still, I'm pretty sure that he will call again eventually, not today, maybe not tomorrow, but maybe in a week or so

if he does that again, i will almost certainly have to get the police involved (as much as i don't want to).  We are actually also nervous about repercussions from going down that path!

and i don't think he feels bad, its a complex thing but basically the page/business where we found him has filed for liquidation, i think he just realises he could potentially get more easy money from us and is as simple as that.. he thinks were thick and thats why we have some sort of advantage at the moment.

anyway, what a time.. . i do feel a bit thick for getting scammed in the first place, now i pay the extra price of stress

thanks again folks!

I wonder if he is "trying to make good" on having you buy all those unused materials?
Does your partner think that is possible, maybe some sort of miscommunication?
In any case, I would tell him straight out that you are not going to pay another red penny .Tell him you want the work done that you have already paid for.
That's if you want to try and see what his game is.
Sorry for your hassle, it can be a headache.
We are not bouncers either but if push came to shove, you never know what you can do. Been there ourselves.
Once on good faith we allowed a HU guy in S. Ca. to store our machines, they were worth a pretty penny, we had a machine shop we closed and he offered to store our machines in his industrial unit for a fee.
We paid rent to him.
We found a new location for our shop a few months later and informed him we were bringing a heavy mover to take the machines out of his unit.
He thought that possession was his just because he had the keys to the front door of his unit.
He wanted to steal our machines!
I called up several lawyers, also informed the local police that I was going to break and enter to collect my property.
We showed up with the mover, a  glass repairman, 2 extras ( heavies, just in case) and called the police on our selves to have them on site to witness our legal right to get our property back.
This was over 30 years ago, doubt the cops would be so cool now days but we were within our legal rights.
The jerk didn't see it coming, we said to let us in, he wouldn't so I broke in the glass window and we entered, removed the machines, he was B- ing and moaning about it, the cops were on our side and told him to shut it up and get out of our way!We had all the papers with us on ownership.
Sometimes you have to get tough and mean in life, sad to say.
Dang, those machines cost us a small fortune and we were not about to just let them go.
It was basically peaceful, no one got hurt only that jerks ego.
You never know what you can do until you have to do it. I am afraid at times as to what I could and would do if anyone messed with my family.
I almost ran a child down who broke my son's arm and was still bullying him, stocking my boy while his arm was trying to heal. Had the brat in the sites of my car, literally called out loud to Jesus to stop me and only because my son needed me, no care what I would of done to that little monster who was gang stocking my boy. The kid saw me behind the wheel looked so scared , I reffed up my engine so he could get a scare just like he had been doing to my boy. Thankfully "Jesus" came through for me and made me take my foot off the gas. Crazy happens...
It's a good thing I was born a weak, skinny girl otherwise some folks would be in trouble.

haha!

what a story... I'm glad it worked out for you back then with the machines... good for you!! i also feel as if being here i need to start really levelling up. I'm just too used to people being fair, oh how foolish i am ;)

the thing that worries the most is getting the police involved as i have heard so many stories now of the situation being turned around on us, if we call the cops and for some reason they believe this scammers made up story then we get a whole new level of stress... back home in the uk i would have no trouble calling the cops on a dodgy tradesman.. but out here its so unknown with many varying outcomes...

what i can do now is simply to try and record all evidence and keep all communications with these guys, the only power i have at the moment is that this person still thinks were stupid.. so if push comes to shove we can at least gather as much evidence as we can.. i just cant believe he's stupid enough to keep pushing.  He ripped us off and could have just let it be whilst the going was good.. but oh no, he reckons were a good cash cow and he can push us around... incredible!

in Hungary I'm learning to basically always expect the un expected.. nothing will surprise me soon

koznoz :

in Hungary I'm learning to basically always expect the un expected.. nothing will surprise me soon

I look at it this way:

I lived in Switzerland for many years. Everything worked. Everything ran on time. Rules were pretty clear and most people followed them.

And it was all very, very boring.  :sleep

haha!

thats right.. never boring here

just wish for at least a few boring days a week at the moment :D

thanks!

oh yes, I've learned a lot from this at least... i will be a stickler for ID and the correct procedures in the future...

Sad to say that this is the "new" Hungary. Back ages ago people didn't pull this sort of BS, I guess the gov. would of locked them away and tossed out the key back in the day.

Too bad some people take the meaning of Freedom to mean they are free to act like jerks.

Do not be afraid of the cops, you did nothing wrong so why be afraid.
Now if you were in S. Cal. right now, yes you might not wish to call them over but here in Hungary to me the cops look like big Boy Scouts.
They seem actually pretty relaxed compared to what we get in the US now days.
When I was a cute little teen girl, the cops would even give me rides to house parties even though from the St. the music could be heard blaring at midnight. Higher then a kite and still get dropped off at a friends house after another friend I was riding with got busted for being high and running over 3, yes that would be three, US post boxes.
They didn't even search the Jeep, thankfully....
These days in the US my baby bro( 14 years my jr.) as spent 6 months in prison for losing his temper and throwing his "best friend" through  a plate glass window after coming home early from work and finding him "entertaining" my bro's older wife. Happened to find out her family was big time into the Mexican mafia and she didn't want him to get released from jail.
She needed time to sell the house behind his back and raid the bank accounts, sell the new BMW etc. so she could get plastic surgery. Seriously, wish I was making this up!
She had a super interesting job working for the music industry as a host, would book bands into hotels, set up things for them to do etc.,while they were in town, dinners, parties etc. She was a cute young looking Mexican American women who had a really good personality, I loved her to death when I met her, until the evil twin came out in her! All my bro's so called "rocker friends" thought she was their meal ticket to fame so they were all over her.
Wow, never know about people until something serious happens, some people flake out on you and some step up.
My bro has been hog tied by the cops for speaking out, 6 months in prison, lost his good state job because of that arrest, went homeless for a bit afterwards.  he received  a huge scar across his neck that I noticed, a reminder of his 6 months in the hole. He never told me about this when it was happening, I was in HU at the time too. No one gave him bail to get out.
Wow, just bad stuff, all good now, he is a biker / rocker/janitor at a grade school, he has married a school teacher who makes more then double his pay, she even treated him to a Harley and a honeymoon in Hawaii.
never give up I suppose is the lesson of the day!

Just a quick side note: No I am not a "trouble seeker" it seems from some of my posts that I may come off as a hard a**.
Not at all.
In fact the "child" I wanted to run over with my car was actually one of those 14 year old brats that mature physically very fast but their brains are not up to the task. He was larger then me!
My bro is a huge "Teddy Bear" sort of guy, just has anger management issues!
We never ever start trouble, sometimes trouble finds you though.

haha... i would have felt exactly the same so don't worry :D

and yes, trouble always has a way of finding us... inexplicable

:)

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