How best to resolve disputes

Best ways to handle contractors, doctors, other services


Despite your preparations, it's possible for issues to arise, putting you in conflict with a service provider or health care provider.

According to a nationwide Angie's List poll:

  •  23 percent have wanted to fire their contractor, but didn't.
  •  Of those who wanted to fire a contractor but didn't, 46 percent said they felt they already invested too much money into the project to switch contractors; 14 percent had already paid for the project; 14 percent were afraid of the repercussions from breaking the contract; and 13 percent were afraid of upsetting the contractor.

Whether it's an unanticipated cost, faulty equipment or a simple misunderstanding, conflicts can be unavoidable.

Angie's List tips: How to resolve a dispute

  •  Act quickly:  If you have a concern or conflict, address it immediately. Waiting may only make the situation worse. If you don't speak up, then you can't expect them to do the job you want.
  •  When possible, complain in person:  It's easy to be ignored if you write a letter or email expressing dissatisfaction, and phone calls can often result in being placed on hold for an exorbitant amount of time. If possible, make complaints in person by visiting your service or health provider's office.
  •  Complain in good faith:  Ever hear your mother say you'll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar? Don't come into the situation angry or thinking everyone is out to get you. Instead, come into the situation thinking your provider will want to work with you to come to a resolution. Be assertive in sticking to the facts, but show that you are willing to work with the other party.
  •  Document everything:  Document every part of the process, including every name, date, time and price that relates to the complaint. Documentation, such as receipts and written estimates, can be crucial evidence when trying to seek resolution. If a job was not completed or the work was performed poorly, take photo and video evidence to help prove your claim. Also, be ready to explain exactly how you want the situation to be resolved.
  •  Explain the consequences:  If the contractor's response isn't sufficient, explain what will happen if you don't get action. If you have been a long-time customer, let them know that they will no longer have your business and you will not refer the company to friends and family.
  •  Report your contractor to the state: Your state's contractor licensing board is a great place to start when hiring contractors, as it will help you check licensing, credentials and provide critical information about the details of the construction process, such as how much a contractor is legally allowed to charge for a down payment. This is also the place you can report your contractor should something go awry. In the case of issues with your health care providers, you should contact your state's medical licensing board as well.