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CRAZY returning customer

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by signspark1988, Jun 14, 2019.

  1. signspark1988

    signspark1988 New Member

    Dec 26, 2017
    Signs 101 friends,

    currently I'm in a awkward situation with a return customer of ours.

    2014, we did a removal of old neon channel letters and reposition at the same location. We also did awning fabric change.

    2019, customer's old neon channel letter sign (Not made by us) burst into flames overnight and melted the acrylic off to ruin the awning below it.

    Customer is threatening me with a lawsuit because he claims because I moved the sign, the sign went into flames.

    Currently, my jaws are dropped to the floor with this situation and I keep telling him I had only one job with those signs and it was to connect to existing electrical leads. Anything internally with the sign, has nothing to do with us. I'm guessing because he can't reach the original sign maker, he's trying to get something out of me.

    What do y'all think about this?
  2. Jay Grooms

    Jay Grooms Printing, Printing, Printing......

    Nov 20, 2018
    Burlington Wisconsin
    I'd call your insurance company and give them a heads up. I don't know the laws, but since you were the last one to touch it..........
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  3. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    He's right, you were the last one in there and evidently something wasn't hooked up or grounded properly when you left. It took a long time to take place, but unless you can prove someone's been in it doing electrical work, I'd get a hold of your insurance company right away. Judging by your profile, you are not licensed to do this work..... ??
    • Like Like x 1
  4. signspark1988

    signspark1988 New Member

    Dec 26, 2017
    Yep, we are licensed to do electrical work in the city. I'm so shocked how I can be responsible for a fire that started within the letters and all we touched was our whip and their electrical leads. Also this sign being more than 10 years old, I'm mind blown with this situation.
  5. ddarlak

    ddarlak Trump Hater

    tell him to pound salt and don't worry about it. your insurance company will deal with if if need be.
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  6. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    I would think if you dismantled it to move it, you'd've made sure all the connections were still good after jostling it around. No bare wires or places for any wires to rub themselves bare.

    If you dropped your vehicle off to have the brakes replaced, he wouldn't be looking for other problems if they weren't obvious, but if the mechanic saw something outta whack, he would most likely call you to discuss what to do. Didn't you open it up to move it ??

    Just try this on....... when something goes wrong, that guy and his lawyers are gonna throw all the sh!t they can at the fan to see what sticks. You're named in the suit, as it was something YOU were working on. Beating that could be a problem, we'll just hope for ya, it wasn't really your fault. :thumb:
  7. backwoodsgirl

    backwoodsgirl Member

    Nov 16, 2018
    ^ what he said... they will grasp at straws... regardless of what bridges may be burned. They want you to pay for it so they don't have to file an insurance claim. People are somethin else nowdays. Tell him you're confident that moving the sign did not cause a fire years later, and the insurance company sort it out, sounds like it wasn't a huge loss anyway, thankfully.
  8. bannertime

    bannertime "You guys do banners, right?"

    Sep 8, 2016
    Arlington, TX
    Goodluck. You may be able to get away with partial fault, but if they can't go after the original manufacture, then you're in for a fight. Insurance and fire marshals are pretty smart about this stuff and can probably decide on the spot what caused the fire. The issue is going to be proving that you didn't touch that part; because you're guilty until proven innocent in this case. You vs Original sign guy vs act of god.
  9. CanuckSigns

    CanuckSigns Very Active Member

    Nov 11, 2008
    tell them to contact your insurance company, they will deal with it from here, this is what you pay premiums for after all, if it's found to not be your fault, your premiums won't go up, even if you are found at fault, they won't go up much with only a few thousand $ in damages
  10. night eagle

    night eagle Active Member

    Mar 9, 2009
    Crowley tx
    i agree let the insurance company's deal with it...they have way better lawyers than you do, and will prob fight tooth and nail not to pay

    • Like Like x 1
  11. 2B

    2B Moderator

    May 5, 2011
    +1 for either the insurance agent or your lawyer.
    they get paid to filter/handle these claims.

    we have started video recording all of our work, service calls, installs, repairs, etc.
    basically anytime we touch something that is not "ours"
    a GoPro is cheap enough and can record for hours.

    at the very least, always take detailed images before, during and after.

    here is an example of why recording your work is important.

    new faces were ordered for a wall cabinet.
    arrived on location opened the face and found (see image "BEFORE")
    took images (didn't show them the images... yet) and told the end customer of the issues before the new faces were installed, they didn't approve the repair cost and only authorized the faces.

    2 weeks later, get a call that we "broke" their cabinet and demanded to get fixed ASAP.
    remined them POLITELY we already told them of these issues and they only approved the faces., we would look as soon as possible.
    since we were in the area, went by to look at it later that week.
    they tried what was assumed to be a DIY fix, screwed a new fixture to the back of the cabinet and connected to the existing leads.....
    (see image AFTER 1 & AFTER 2)

    Because of the photos, and date stamps we could prove work was done AFTER we touched the cabinet. They quickly changed their stories

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
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  12. perfectpdf

    perfectpdf Member

    Jan 8, 2015
    Don't do anything except shut up. Hell I wouldn't even respond to this post anymore.

    Don't call your insurance company either you don't want it on your profile.

    Whatever they claim they have to prove without a doubt. If a lawsuit formed which it won't to prove without a doubt you're at fault they have to bring in a neutral qualified expert witness that has to be paid by them to investigate, create a report and then testify on the stand at a per hourly rate that will far exceed any cost of the actual loss. Even then if the worst report in the world was written up about the work by said expert they have to prove you still did it and no one messed with it after you left. A jury wouldn't buy it unless you admitted fault. So shut up and keep moving on. Don't talk to anyone on the phone about it especially your freaking insurance company, by email or in a customer waiting area. All phone calls can get subpoenaed and you don't want to say the wrong thing on record and have your insurance company and theirs come after you if you had a lightweight policy. There is a reason why "these calls" are monitored for quality assurance and it isn't for you.

    I am curious what the fire department report says about the wiring inside the actual electrical box, (not the whip) was the neutral and ground correctly used and not just both thrown onto the ground.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  13. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but where in the rule book does it say, if you see something wrong, report or don't report it..... you can put it back together by the owner's say so ?? Who is the professional here....... you or them ?? Aren't you the one coming out to do work on whatever project and you find something wrong, report it and they say don't worry about it, so you close it up and think you're outta trouble ?? If you close that up and got paid, you are doing a complete injustice to your reputation and the lives of people working in that place and maybe even some innocent people just passing through.

    If y'all can go to sleep at night, knowing there is a potential problem and you did nothing to fix it..... OR report it, then I guess you're alright with how you handled it.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  14. equippaint

    equippaint Very Active Member

    Oct 10, 2014
    Im with perfect pdf, go pound sand Its been 5 years, just shutup about it and see what he does.... which will be nothing. I wouldnt call your insurance co either. He should have his own insurance and he needs to call them to fix the damage, not you. It was 5 years ago
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. OPENSignsInc.

    OPENSignsInc. Member

    Aug 23, 2015
    Greenville, PA
    I'd be curious too as to where the fire originated (your junction, ballast, socket, etc.) and what caused it (loose wire, screw through wire, old ballast, lightning strike, etc.). I would not admit any fault right away because of length of statutes, but I'd try to get the fire marshall's report before trying to settle or going to court.

    I talk to my insurance guy pretty regularly, as hes right across the street and ive done work for him, and would probably give him a heads up if he doesnt know already (but thats just me).
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Gene@mpls

    Gene@mpls Very Active Member

    Jun 17, 2003
    Blaine, Mn
    The insurance company will just pay it- cheapest way for them.
  17. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

    Oct 21, 2016
    Frisco, TX
    Question is DAMAGES and NEGLIGENCE. If there are not big damages, no one will want to bother. He will have to hire a lawyer and all this stuff for what? The cost of a 10 year old sign and an old awning?

    And I'm with Gino 100%... You find an electrical hazard while your in that sign how much is it to recap that thing? Or tell them its dangerous and shut the power off till they can fix it. Never leave something if you know there is an issue. The cost and time involved of at least eliminating a fire hazard is more then worth it if something goes wrong and your now defending yourself. If your doing a face swap really they should be factoring in an NTE on repairs while your in there.
  18. Martin Denton

    Martin Denton Member

    Aug 17, 2017
    Manchester, UK
    I would leave the other party to do all the chasing and proving. Next time he contacts you I would ask to see his maintenance log for the period since you worked on it. If he doesn’t have one that could work in your favour if it went legal as it demonstrates a lack of reasonable care on his part. and if he does then that potentially gets you off the hook as someone else has worked on it in the interim period so should have spotted and rectified any issues...
  19. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    If you don't fix the problem, you should then report it and have a paper trail, so nothing comes of it down the road, such as the case in this scenario.

    All these back & forth silly actions won't hold sh!t, if someone is hurt or killed in this fire and/or any other fires. When only material things are harmed, it's easy to see what comes of things, but when there is a loss of life or huge amounts of body tissue damaged..... the storyline will change instantly and in one direction. Do you really want to find out the hard way ??
  20. JBurton

    JBurton Signtologist

    Sep 28, 2017
    So there is this case that I'd come across years ago concerning responsibility of signage. Something about a statute of repose and those laws in your state. This was a very interesting case where a sign was put up on a bridge, obviously lower than the minimum clearance listed on the bridge. A trucker comes along, gets concerned, and stops in the road. While stopped, someone else rear ends him. The driver ends up suing the sign company. The court finds that while the sign was below the clearance, the sign was installed over 6 years prior (Mississippi's statute of repose) that the company that installed it is no longer considered liable.

    Also, who notices a bad wirenut and tries to extort extra charges? I'd consider that a hazard, fix it for my own guy's sake, and tell the customer how awesome I am for replacing this wirenut. (Hand wire nut to customer) I know I'm not responsible, but I also know I'm not a fan of watching the world burn.
    Now if he needed new wire pulled up the pole, I may tell him I wouldn't power the sign myself with the wire in the pole and leave him with his sign shutoff and a number to run new wire if he wasn't ready to do it at that time. But a single wire nut is just crazy to not replace.

    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
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