Author Topic: My employer (now ex-employer) rented my equipment...FOGger's thoughts welcomed  (Read 3647 times)

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Offline Naildrivingman

  • Posts: 264
 I was employed by a local construction company from January to mid July of this year. During this period of time I allowed them to use my fairly modest collection of scaffolding. Most of the projects were ones that I was working on directly and I wanted to use the scaffolding not only for my own safety but for increased efficiency in production.   When I used my equipment on projects on which I was directly working I only billed for the time that it took me to assemble and disassemble the scaffolding. I did not bill them for any rental nor did I expect any rental as it was my equipment and it was benefiting me.

 My manager approached me about renting my equipment for a job he was bidding. At that time I told them that I would rent my equipment to the company for 50% of the going rate. This was a verbal conversation and nothing was written down.

 That project did not materialize, but they asked if my equipment could be used on another project.  I said yes and the scaffolding has been in various states of use of that project since April 1 of this year.

I quit that company in mid July. When I quit, I told them to use the equipment until the project was complete.   Because I quit rather abruptly,  I felt it would be somewhat of a slap in the face to revoke the use of my equipment as well.   They thanked me for allowing the continued use of the equipment and offered to pay me rent upon completion. They asked me for a competitive quote and I gave them one. That quote was 50% of the standard local rental, the same as I had pledged before.

They are now done using my equipment and have offered me $500 for the use of the equipment. 50% of the going rate equals approximately $1750.

You kind folks of the FOG have given me many different opinions I hadn't considered regarding questions that I have posted here and I am grateful for each and every one. I would like to know what you think about this situation.

Dance with who brung ya...

Offline rst

  • Posts: 1506
No good deed shall go unpunished.  Teach you to be a good guy.

Offline Tinker

  • Posts: 3519
@Naildrivingman, My thought, having rented equipment of various descriptions in the past:  If you rent a piece, or pieces, of equipment you receive an itemized list that includes each piece, or the combinations of pieces.  you are charged so much per day/week/month or whatever the term is to be.  You pay a percentage at the beginning of the term before you walk out the door with said equipment. You pay a balance, depending on the term you used that equipment, however the term was determined at the beginning.  You have a receipt telling the terms and the renter has a copy, both copies are signed by both parties. If there is damage, then you pay extra according to an agreed figure before you took the equipment. That, i think, is fair. If you rent to other people, you use the same method.

I have loaned equipment to friends.  I am very careful who I loan to.  If I rent equipment out, I am also very careful.  If I rent equipment, i am willing to sign as above for said rental.  If i rent out equipment, I make sure the agreement is in B&W.  If I loan, it is verbal agreement and I am taking my chances. If it does not work out, and there was nothing in writing, I grab whatever money is offered and run, but never laon or rent to the same party again without a firm and signed agreement.

another thought is that you should have adequate insurance coverage if you are renting equipment out. You are liable for any accidents.  That is a whole new kettle of worms for you to think about. If you are in the business of renting out equipmnt, I don't think you are fully prepared at this time.  Be very careful.
Tinker
Wayne H. Tinker

Offline charley1968

  • Posts: 488
How are you and the construction company finacially? If you've the money to spare and they're in a dire straits , i'd consider. If they're well-off and you're poor, i'd sue.
Just for today..

Offline aloysius

  • Posts: 155
Keep it polite, but firm.  Write a letter stating your version of events, esp. any verbal agreements entered into.  Diary entries stating the facts as understood by you entered on the day of each verbal exchange will help enormously should things get litigious.

Don't get litigious.  Avoid at ALL costs!  Nobody wins but the filthy, stinking lawyers.  If necessary, suggest the use of an independent, unpaid arbiter to help settle the claim.  Make diary entries for each & every exchange in the future.  Even better, state your case in writing and keep dated copies.

Best of luck.
FOG-wit since '95:  Some say since birth...

Offline NL-mikkla

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Stick to the 50% going rate deal as stated earlier, kinda slap in the face for wanting it even at a cheaper rate.
It was friendly of you to give them 50% in the first place and now they want even more discount..
I have 16 years of equipment rental experience and there should be no discussing of the rental rates once the job has is finished.

To avoid this situation is to bill them per week, and not at job's end.
This way when the job is done you will have most of your rent in your account.
Keeping it friendly and firm is a good advise, also for future rental projects,
Because that is the best, returning customer who pay a premium price,
The premium price you already gave away, but for 50% of goimng rates they will return.

Offline Tinker

  • Posts: 3519
I notice most of the replies, so far,  come from across one of the big ponds.  All good advise no matter where it comes from.  The main theme is to keep records, records, and records. You have had a good lesson and chalk that up to education. If you don't come to a better agreement, best to walk away, but don't let it happen again. Don't get involved with litigation. It will probably cost you more than you will get back.   

There is an old saying: Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.
Tinker
Wayne H. Tinker

Offline RKA

  • Posts: 899
I would say it appears you left on good terms, maybe it's better not to burn this bridge just yet.  Since nothing is in writing and enforceable, the solution probably lies within a conversation - how this all started.  Talk to the manager you made the agreement with and be frank.  Ask him how he came up with $500.  Remind him what he agreed to in case he's fuzzy and let him fill the silence with his justification for the difference or an admission of the mistake.  How you respond depends on the next paragraph.

I'm sure if there was some convoluted reasoning he will provide, perhaps related to your departure.  So before you pick up the phone, decide if it's worth pressing him.  Circumstances may be such that you would rather write it off than sour the relationship (although they kind of did that already).  But if the continued relationship has no value, the conversation ends with the request to pay in full what was agreed upon.
-Raj

Online Peter Halle

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Take the $500 and your equipment and chalk the rest up to doing a favor that turned into a learning experience.  You are lucky to get your equipment back and you are lucky that nobody got hurt using it and you being sued.  Rental businesses have legal contracts to protect themselves.

Peter

Offline Jozsef Kozma

  • Posts: 98
i have to say , Peters point is the most important
Be happy you got everything back ,nobody got hurt,
and made few $
Don't do it again , liability laws not in your favor


Offline Alex

  • Posts: 5433
Since everything is verbal, did you actually agree on a set amount of money, or just the vague 50%? Because the last option is open to interpretation, and as others already said, is it worth to sour the relationship over that?

Offline kevinculle

  • Posts: 126
When you decided to quit you changed your relationship with your employer and your prior verbal agreement between colleagues (which was already pretty shaky) became too vague to enforce or rely on.  When you quit you needed to either agree on the settlement and take your scaffolding or agree on the terms and convert this verbal agreement to a written contract.  I would take whatever you can get and take your scaffolding and chalk it up to life experience.

Offline HarveyWildes

  • Posts: 527
I'm a little on both sides of the fence.  Start by going to the person that you made the agreement with and remind him of the original agreement.  If that doesn't work, take the $500 and the scaffolding and run and don't look back.  And as mentioned, remember that there is a liability associated with letting other people rent/use your tools.

I don't know about rentals, but I've heard that the liability insurance for things like woodworkers co-ops or open shops is way high.

Online SRSemenza

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Take the $500 and your equipment and chalk the rest up to doing a favor that turned into a learning experience.  You are lucky to get your equipment back and you are lucky that nobody got hurt using it and you being sued.  Rental businesses have legal contracts to protect themselves.

Peter


This ^^^

    And in my opinion any further involvement or pursuance just opens you up to risk.  EX- maybe someone on the crew did  bang their knee and just didn't bother. But if you go to court ????  Plus you really have nothing enforceable unless there were witnesses that will be on your side but I am betting ...... not. Do you have the scaffold in your possession yet? If not go get it before anything further happens.

Seth

Offline antss

  • Posts: 1176
While I think the advice here is good, I disagree with most of you that this should be chalked up to experience or that ndman should be content with getting his equipment back and not getting sued.

That is simply a cowards reaction AND just condones the manager's behavior.  Which is clear to me that he's out to screw naildrivingman simply becaue he's in adantageous position to do so.  Can't stand for that , and this fella needs to be taught a lesson or he'll continue the behavior.

If you guys were in other professions like accounting, law, or medicine, you wouldn't think twice about trying to collect on an agreement with another member of your profession or a former employer.   Even if you feel that's not the case, we as a society are way to lax about "gentelemen's agreement's" and by not publically calling out welchers we are doing everyone a dis-serivce.

As for souring the relationship - why care ?   Do you really want to deal with someone that's out to screw you from the outset ?

Offline kevinculle

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If you guys were in other professions like accounting, law, or medicine, you wouldn't think twice about trying to collect on an agreement with another member of your profession or a former employer.   Even if you feel that's not the case, we as a society are way to lax about "gentelemen's agreement's" and by not publically calling out welchers we are doing everyone a dis-serivce.

As for souring the relationship - why care ?   Do you really want to deal with someone that's out to screw you from the outset ?

People in accounting, medicine and law do not make it their habit to encumber their property without the benefit of a written contract.  A gentlemen's agreement is exactly what it implies and when one of the gentlemen turns out not to be so there is no agreement as far as the law is concerned unless there are witnesses willing to back it up.  There is no relationship any more and that is the crux of the OP's problem...his exposure on this issue will not pay a lawyer for a day's work and good luck finding a lawyer who wants to litigate a verbal contract.  When you make a mistake that costs you money your 1st priority should be to not throw good money after bad.  If the OP has his wits about him he will focus on getting his scaffolding back, getting whatever money the other "gentleman" will pay, and moving on a wiser man.

Offline aloysius

  • Posts: 155
I agree.  A contract is a contract - verbal or carved in stone.  However, without validation or proof it becomes a matter of "he said, s/he said".  That's why diary entries can become validating proofs in disputation.  Do I need to spell it out any further?  Whilst I'd never ever suggest retrospective diary entry, it would sure be useful, wouldn't it?

If the 2nd party disputes the terms of the contract, there's little else that can be done toward resolution.  That's where an independent 3rd party arbiter becomes useful.  Both parties to the contract would become bound by this mutually unaffiliated person's arbitration.  It's just about the only way forward to achieve any sort of financial resolution, which will hopefully (but by no means necessarily) fall somewhere between the 2 disputed sums.

The fact that an impasse has been reached makes his course of action the only meaningful way forward.  The alternatives - take the money & run or litigation - means that you're bound to lose otherwise.  My suggested course of action has no intrinsic guarantees either, you my lose here too, but one would hope, & even perhaps naively expect, that natural justice will prevail.
FOG-wit since '95:  Some say since birth...

Offline antss

  • Posts: 1176
I make verbal , handshake, and gentleman's agreement all the time with that crowd. Never been taken advantage of.   Once, a banker tried but soon realized it was in his best interest to remain a gentleman. Lawsuits are not the only means to get people to do what's right.

Written contracts are no guarantee of payment either.  Even when you win in court, you still have to collect. And that isn't always easy or certain.  You should protect yourself by all means at your disposal. But , dropping the matter simply because you were ignorant just furthers the cycle of people taking advantage of others.

I didn't get that an "impasse" has been reached.  Nailman, said he was "offered" 1/3 of the contract price and it's implied he turned it down.  Maybe he didn't ; in which case there's really nothing practical for him to do except lick his wounds.  The skilled  negotiater would have said, no, no, no, the rental rate is $3500 - you must have forgotten.

Additionally , this falls well within the realms of small claims court which is inexpensive to file in and does not require paid counsel.  You'd be betting that the company values its reputation more than it values $1200.  That's a good bet unless the "manager"  is the owner too. 

Offline TSO Products

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@Naildrivingman - you have nothing to fear from lawyers. Since you're in Minnesota and winter is just a round the corner in your neck of the woods. I've been told it gets so cold in Minnesota that lawyers keep their hands in their own pockets!

But seriously: I feel badly for you because you're obviously a good hearted soul, albeit one who decided, without realizing it at the time, to cross the line from "employee" to venture into the EQUIPMENT RENTAL business for which he has no qualification whatsoever.

Keep in mind the debate here is about the difference between the $ 500.00 the contractor offered and the amount you feel you're owed - i.e.  net $ 1,00.00. Anyway you proceed whether its arbitration or small claims court, look at what you really expect to walk away with at best and at what cost in terms of lost time $$ income not to mention the aggravation.

Your maximum actual recovery by forcing the issue has to be very small in the end. Thank him for the offer he made as a substitute for payment of the agreed amount. Appeal to his conscience and his reputation and settle on something both of you can live with.

In the future: "cobbler stay with your lasts" - go forth and sin no more.
You did gain a valuable lesson in business, though, and no one can take that away from you - not too shabby and may well save much more in the future in a different situation.

"Good judgement comes from bad experience(s)"

Hans

You
TSOproducts.com

Home of the GRS-16 and GRS-16 PE Guide Rail Squares -  the MTR-18 Triangle and Work Holding solutions

Offline Naildrivingman

  • Posts: 264
Thank you all for your opinions and encouragements.  I have taken all to heart.

My plan is to craft a kindly worded, brief and direct letter outlining the original agreement and then see what comes of it.

At no time was my intention solely to make money, but rather to share my investment with my coworkers (because I was relatively certain that the company would not provide the same security and convenience that my equipment would allow).  It is important to note that I was approached about renting the equipment, not the other way around.  I am/was aware of the potential for liability exposure and the state laws protect me pretty well, so I chose to move ahead.  Never again will I do this with any equipment or tools, the work is not worth the reward.

My main hope going forward is that others can learn from my experience.  Thanks you fellow FOGgers for giving me the benefit of your insight.

Regards,
Chris
Dance with who brung ya...

Offline Pnw painter

  • Posts: 95
I'm not sure how much scaffolding you loaned them, but would the rental cost at 50% of the going rate be more than what the scaffolding is worth? If so, your old employer is probably mad at himself that he didn't just buy scaffolding.

Rather than writing a letter, I'd call or go out for beers to discuss the matter.


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Offline Naildrivingman

  • Posts: 264
I'm not sure how much scaffolding you loaned them, but would the rental cost at 50% of the going rate be more than what the scaffolding is worth? If so, your old employer is probably mad at himself that he didn't just buy scaffolding.

I don't have a definite answer, but I do know that when I started acquiring scaffolding in 2005, the full rental cost (100%) for a six month term equated to slightly less than the cost of purchasing used equipment.

Very few contractors own scaffolding unless it is used daily. The only trade that I can think of that tends to own are the masonry trades. Most others rent.  Storing scaffolding can use up a lot of space.

In this case I don't think the company has any regrets.
Dance with who brung ya...

Offline jobsworth

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What Peter said with a little extra ,

Make sure you check it out ad its not damaged, take the $500 at least its something but tell them you are ging to make them responsible for paying any of the cost to repair/replace  damaged equipment.

Go on a learn from this. I dont loan my stuff out.
Loving the Calif sun....

Offline Gregor

  • Posts: 433
I would get any of my stuff they still have, take the money they are willing to give freely - then (after after loading my gear and pocketing the money) ask them kindly if they want to spend some hours on the next small claims court to be found lieable to fork over the rest or if they want to spare that time and hand it over now to be done and even.

In case they fold: take the money, say goodby and never look (and come) back.
In case they don't: file at your local small claims court for exactly what is open, show up at the court date - good chance they're idiots and don't show (then you'll win by default).
« Last Edit: September 06, 2017, 08:34 PM by Gregor »

Offline Tinker

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Take the $500 and your equipment and chalk the rest up to doing a favor that turned into a learning experience.  You are lucky to get your equipment back and you are lucky that nobody got hurt using it and you being sued.  Rental businesses have legal contracts to protect themselves.

Peter


This ^^^

    And in my opinion any further involvement or pursuance just opens you up to risk.  EX- maybe someone on the crew did  bang their knee and just didn't bother. But if you go to court ????  Plus you really have nothing enforceable unless there were witnesses that will be on your side but I am betting ...... not. Do you have the scaffold in your possession yet? If not go get it before anything further happens.

Seth
Take the $500 and your equipment and chalk the rest up to doing a favor that turned into a learning experience.  You are lucky to get your equipment back and you are lucky that nobody got hurt using it and you being sued.  Rental businesses have legal contracts to protect themselves.

Peter

I think Peter and Seth have shown why they are such excellent moderators. 

Many other suggested solutions are so contentious that nobody would win.
Tinker
Wayne H. Tinker

Offline Naildrivingman

  • Posts: 264
I issued a counter request this past Tuesday and have heard nothing since. I'm planning on retrieving my equipment this weekend. Lesson learned...no more mister nice guy and no more loaning of my equipment for free or pay.
Dance with who brung ya...

Offline Gregor

  • Posts: 433
no more mister nice guy and no more loaning of my equipment for free or pay.
My solution is to collect a collateral sized to the actual current worth of the items (not what's in my books but what I would have to shell out when replacing them) the moment of handing out the gear. For most stuff I simply use list prices, having a 'congratulations to buying the stuff with your collateral' clause (should they fail to return the stuff as agreed or trying to return damaged goods) helps with a reliable return date and vastly improves the way in with the gear is handled.

That with a little papertrail (creative use of SCalc or Excel can easily create the dead tree sheet needed for this) where the borrower signs for when they got what, for how long, at what rates (for lending the stuff and the rates should the gear return defective, not in time or not at all) and I sign for the collateral - on return the same but with swapped roles. Not all humans these days are like your ex-employer, but sadly enough are which ruins the fun for everyone. The non-your-ex-employer types I simply inform that, as of past experiences, this is sadly needed and usually they get (and accept) it without being angry (as my lending rates are fair, similar to the level to what you initially agreed on).

Offline Tinker

  • Posts: 3519
I took my truck into the shop for minor repairs on Tueesday morning, expecting to be returned that evening.

They ran into other problems and i ended up renting a truck for one day>>> ending up renting three different days.
The rental company, from the information i gave them, gave me an estimate of cost which I signed each time. When I returned the truck > each day< with expectations i would not need it the next day, they refigured the cost.  Each time, the cost came to much less than the estimate had been.

Each time, i had returned the truck with more gas n the tank than when i had picked it up.  The truck was cleaned inside and out to as clean as when I picked it up.  Each time, I returned the truck within my estimated mileage (I gave an estimate of 10 miles between low and high estimate) Each time, i returned the truck much earlier than promised.  All of those factors I am sure influenced to some extent, the final charges.

I was not so fortunate, expense wise, with the repairs to my own truck, but that is not what this conversation is about.
Tinker
Wayne H. Tinker

Offline HarveyWildes

  • Posts: 527
Some advice has value no matter how old.

...Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,
Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.
...
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2017, 09:27 AM by HarveyWildes »

Offline Naildrivingman

  • Posts: 264
Some advice has value no matter how old.

...Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,
Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.
...
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

If only we could be as wise as Hamlet...
Dance with who brung ya...