Monday, June 18, 2007

off topic, on prevailing

OK, this is totally off topic, but I felt this insurmountable need to share the news...
Today, I received a check from the state of Florida. Yippy!

After 2 full years of misery and perseverance I finally prevailed! The Department of Business and Professional Regulation finally cut me a check out of their "recovery fund". I had lost hope this would ever come true. I had never encountered so much red tape in my life (and I went thru the US immigration department procedure to become a legal alien!)

Here's the story highlights, for your entertainment:

-Fall 2004, the second hurricane in a row to land right in town does over $20 000 of damage to our home.
-Winter 2004, we found a licensed contractor willing to perform the work. I thoroughly check licenses, insurance policies, references, BBB state etc... We give him a fairly large deposit, which he promptly deposits into his company's bank account.
-Spring 2005, the wrong roofing materials are delivered in our driveway. Numerous phone calls are placed and many more stories are told about the reasons why no work is being performed.
-Summer 2005, after consulting a lawyer, we fire the contractor and ask for our deposit back. Follows may more phone calls and attempts to negotiate a refund. We file complaints with the BBB and the FL DBPR.
-Fall 2005, Another hurricane destroys the south office of said DBPR which delays our case again, but one of the state's investigators reports that contractor has agreed verbally to refund our deposit.
-Winter 2005, we receive a letter form the DBPR stating our case is being dropped due to the contractor being deceases. (!) (I have to say that then, I cried.)
-After much probing, someone at the Legal dept of the DBPR informs us that if we had a small court judgement, we could possibly be eligible for a refund from "the recovery fund".
-Spring 2006, we file in small claims (agreeing to the maximum for SCC instead of our full deposit.) Note: this required 2 separate appearances and the grieving widow appeared in tears on a Monday (after being mentioned in the Sunday paper for wining the local women's league bowling tournament) and her attorney states the corporation is being dissolved and will not even file for bankruptcy. All we can hope for is a judgment in our favor. Being that's what we need to continue with the state, we just wait and get that. Yea! We won in court.
-Summer 2006, we file a claim with the DBPR recovery fund and discover that is is just like we have never filed anything at this point. All new paperwork needs to be filled, contract, checks, phone records, copies etc, but also now, we have to prove we tried to collect our SCC judgement, (?!) and also demonstrate the repairs were completed on our house.
-Winter 2006 is spent meeting all these new obligation and learning much too much about asset searches and the corporate veil.
-Jan. 2007, our claims gets denied because of a roofing technicality (remember the wrong materials delivered, we never used it because it did not meet code, turns out he could not have installed it himself, wrong license... Thankfully, he had gotten a licensed roofer to pull a permit for it back then. Proving this got them to revise their original denial and recommend us for approval. We were granted an audience with the decision making board of recovery fund.
-Feb. 2007, we travel to Orlando for an 11 AM appointment with "the board". Turns out there are at least 20 other people with that same 11 AM appointment and that the board is running late, so please wait in this small hotel conference room where all your cases will be heard in numerical order as soon as the board arrives...
A litany of horror stories follow, guaranteeing I will never convince my husband to get me a pool, amongst other things and once our turn comes, we are promptly made aware that our case was a "best case scenario" since NONE of the work was done and NO ONE would challenge the ruling (TGFSF). The contractor lady that is head of the board asks why did i only ask for $5000 in small claims, I say, it's the max, she says, well now you're going to get the full amount back and bangs the gavel! Yea again!
-March 2007, we get more paperwork from the DBPR requesting we file a transfer of our SCC judgment to them and that our check should come within 4 to 6 MONTHS!
-May 2007, we get a registered letter for the state, I run to the post office with butterflies in my stomach. It's a letter stating our case was complete and we should get a check SOON...
-June 2007, another registered letter. Dare I dream? Yes, it is, a letter of congratulations (I kid you not,) and a check for the full amount of our original deposit.

Anyone without the means to research these options, pay for all these fillings, travel, take time off work etc. could never have got this to this happy ending. Anyone without the hard head not to take no for an answer or without the optimistic outlook that justice would matter could have not gotten thru this.

It wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all...





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2 comments:

Linda Poirier said...

Holy crap! They say the bureaucracy in Canada is ridiculous but I guess it's the same all over when you're dealing with government. Congratulations on your hard-earned victory, and good for you for persevering Sylvie!

Library Moose said...

That's a happy ending to a very unamoosing story! Way to fight the system!