Carpentry & Joinery Question

Is my customer entitle to see my trade/suppliers invoices?

thanks everyone for your answers, much appreciated.

7 Answers

Best Answer

The idea of being in business is to make money !! When you go into a shop to buy something do you ask to see there invoices to check there prices ????? of course you don't, you accept the price or go somewhere else. I always add my own costs on to materials I.E buy at trade price sell at recommended retail this is common practice, but having said that I always let the customer know what the price of the materials are going to be before purchase, this then leaves them the option to buy the said materials themselves.
Depending on distance traveled to collect materials, will also depend on whether you decide to charge for collection. This is an area where you must use your own discretion.
Did you give a quote or estimate ?? quote being a fixed and agreed price, estimate being flexible (mine by + or - up to 15%)
Did you have a signed agreement of payment terms ??
Same applies to working hours ??
Did you have an agreement of finish date ??
To be honest the list goes on, and on.
Your age is a big factor here your young, and I think she is taking you for a ride.
I have been to small claims courts with out comes always in my favor, but then I am a lot older, and a lot wiser.
My advise to you would be get what you can from her, avoid confrontation, and put it down to experience. I know this is hard to swallow, and yes it hurts, but unless you have fully protected yourself with signed agreements Etc. you will not get far in the courts.
As regards her seeing your invoices( I have never been asked myself ) I don't think I would show them, especially if you had already agreed a price, after all your profits are nothing to do with her.
That is something that maybe someone else could answer for you.

Best of luck

Answered 11th Oct 2011

R.H. Property Maintenance

Member since 28 Sep 2008

You dont say if you gave her a fixed price or hourly rate.
Sounds to me that you are being more than reasonable, ie you have given her breakdown on materials, you have stated the hours worked, and if you havent fiddled any extra hours I cant see a problem.
You have also been more than generous, knocking of your percentage on the materials, as you have had to do all the running around organising them, telephone calls and checking deliveries.
And you also havent charged her for the scaffold.
Ive been in the trade over 40yr now, and things are not getting easier, you cannot run a business properly or make any profits giving in to customers like this, unless there is some other reason she is refusing to pay, I suggest send her a final invoice, payable within 14 days, explain what you have knocked of the prices, if your building merchants accounts stack up, send her photo copies.
Then in the last paragraph, state that if payment isnt received within 14 days you will take court action, easy enough to do, you can do it online.
I suspect she will pay up before then.
Note, I am a builder, not a solicitor

Answered 11th Oct 2011


Member since 29 Oct 2008

If she agreed a price for daily or hourly rate she is legally bound by verbal contract. Passing debt on to collection agency is not the answer, all she has to say is work was not up to scratch and they won't take it any further. You are under no obligation to show her your materials invoices, the discount you get from a supplier is your discount and nothing to do with her. Small claims is the way to go, and from past experience you have a very good case.
Hope this is of some help.

Answered 11th Oct 2011

Treefrog Interiors Ltd

Member since 20 Sep 2011

sorry to hear you are having customer troubles! unforetunately this can be a problem, espescially with friends & neighbours - because there is an element of trust before you start doing work for them, both parties don't tend to see the need to put the details in writting. Treat every customer as a potential conman!!! Not every customer is & in time you'll learn how to spot a dodgy client. But if you have that in mind every time you look at a job, you'll be thinking of ways to protect youself. Did you put anything in writting before you started work? If so refer your customer to this written agreement. If not, then it sounds like you need to be as open & as honest as you can. People are generally happy to pay as long as they don't feel that you are trying to hide something or make money over and above the deal that you have agreed. I've been in the business almost 25 years & I've found it best practice to always put in writting exactly what work is being done, who pays for what, if there will be any mark up on materials etc. I strongly suggest sitting down with the client & calmly discussing the issues - ask why they are refusing/disputing payment, show them all your delivery note/invoices. If they are struggling financialy can you come to some arrangement so the materials get paid for now & you come to some arrangement for labour costs. Small claims court is the last resort - even if the court rules in your favour, there is no way they can be forced to pay you straight away. Plus, think of the bad publicity for your business! I hope this helps and you soon get the matter sorted.

Answered 11th Oct 2011

RFT Carpentry & Building

Member since 3 Nov 2010

if you have deducted the 20% off for the materials where is the problem in showing her your invoices? Maybe next time if possible give a fixed price good luck

Answered 11th Oct 2011


Member since 22 Nov 2010

Did you agree a figure before you started the job? It is always better for both you and the customer if you do this,if there are any extra's along the way discuss them and get an agreement of costs.This woman may well be trying to take advantage of your youth and possible inexperience.You do not need to show any customer your suppliers invoices they are yours for your accounts. if you chose to add a percentage for handling/transportation and liability then you have that choice, Marks and Spencers will not show her their suppliers invoices and she would get a shock if she was aware of the mark up in retail shopping. If you need to seek legal advice then do so the woman sounds like a real pain. Unfortunately you will experience such people many times throughout your trading life, tie up your paper work and stick to your pricing.Make sure your customer is always in the know,no one likes shocks at the end of a job.
Good luck

Answered 12th Oct 2011

Duwood Design

Member since 15 Aug 2009


This is just from my experiences if i do a big project like a conversion i tell the customer about how they can clam tax back on all material during the duration of the project so i give all the invoices to the customer so they can claim back all the tax quicker and during the project which all ways helps them if they under budget.

Hope this helps


Answered 11th Oct 2011


Member since 9 Oct 2011

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