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Mistakes on Dads Headstone :( my consumer rights please.

(34 Posts)
Bahhhhhumbug Sun 02-Feb-14 22:50:09

Long story sorry and obviously very emotive subject. Appointed a local stonemason to do dads headstone last summer. Found him from the outset quite prickly in a 'doesn't suffer fools gladly' impatient sort of way . Wish l had got rid then but too late now obviously. Firstly he wrote down a few suggested (by him) standard stuff 'In Loving Memory of ..' etc and got my dads details and d.o.b. / d.o.d. etc off me. This was in the cemetery where we decided where grave was going and he was to liaise with priest etc.

I got home and sat down and decided on exact words l wanted on headstone and sent him an email with a document attached showing this. I wanted 'Cherished Memories instead of 'Loving memory of' for example. I went into a lot of detail about font required etc and asked him to let me know if anything was impractical/impossible /whatever and l would go back to drawing board.

He didn't answer me (has never answered/acknowledged any emails from me , ever , even though his idea to communicate this way) so l thought maybe l had read his email address wrong and as he had written part of it in capitols l even tried it with capital letters hmm (not a techie me ! ). Still no answer so I rang him. He was quite short with me and said among other brusque statements that 'Everyone knows that email addresses are always in small case !' as if to scold me for emailing him twice. He also said that there 'was nothing wrong with the words HE had suggested' confused
You have probably guessed by now but I am not assertive and you are probably thinking l should've got rid by that point.
So four months ago he sent me the final bill (I had already paid £300 deposit upfront for his layout for memorial itself and plot etc ) and a photograph of the memorial. I was so upset , it was wrong in so many ways and different to what I had stipulated.
It was in a different colour writing to what we had agreed (verbally during a phone call , so no record) , it was in all capitals but the first letter of every word was a larger capital iyswim (I had written out my template in lower case with a capital letter at start of every word and also written in body of email that I wanted lower case except for first letter of every word and also l wanted a prose excerpt on the vase to be all in lower case italics if possible or just lower case if not with a .... at the beginning and end to signify a partial excerpt iyswim.
But no , it was ALL IN BIG SHOUTY CAPITALS.
Also one word out of the whole headstone was done in a different font pattern to all the others i.e. the word 'of' was written like so : 'oF' with the capital letter at end of the word instead of the beginning like all the others. There was also an unnecessary and grammatically incorrect and unasked for random comma in the middle of the excerpt.
So I rang him and it was a horrible conversation , he quickly became dismissive and arsey and made comments like 'But it looks alright in that colour, there's nothing wrong with it' and ended by saying ' I think you're being a bit over fussy tbh' . I pointed out in one of my rare moments of assertiveness that 'this is my dads permanent memorial , not a bloody note to the milkman!'
So came off phone and sent him a very restrained ( in circs ) email saying I could live with the wrong colour paint (I can't prove that I asked for different anyway) and that I could even live with the smaller capital letters instead of lower case but could not live with the rogue comma and the capital letter at the end of 'oF' and wanted it changing to capital O followed by smaller capital F to be in keeping with all the other words ! Both these minor corrections requested were at the end of a line so presumably easier to correct.
So I was more than reasonable I feel and met him more than halfway. Four months later (on Friday) having had no reply to that email ! DH and I went to see him at his workshop. DH arranged that by phone , as I don't want to speak to him anymore by this time sad .
He wouldn't budge basically and offered us our money back for deposit minus what he had paid out for plot etc so we could 'go elsewhere'. He admitted I had asked for lower case at one point but insisted the 'oF' was correct and the 'way we do it in the business' (rubbish - we've looked all round cemetery not one 'oF' to be seen!) The only thing he would budge on is agreeing to fill in and black out the comma.
So worn out by it all I agreed ( Iknow, I know!)and also because my dad is supposedly being interred on Friday , all arranged so was panicking.
But now I am thinking I just want my money back and start again because it's dawned on me over the weekend that we can inter dads ashes as planned and sort out a headstone later instead of 'making do'. He is going to go ape this chap isn't he now when I ring him tomorrow . He may even refuse to give me money back now as I've had my chance ! Also I could look like the culprit now as we shook hands on going ahead with just the comma removed.

Help sad

Oblique27 Sun 02-Feb-14 22:55:46

I think you are perfectly correct and very tolerant. I would not accept oF under any circumstances. If you can't bear talking to him, would your husband? The stonemason sounds very unprofessional.

Bahhhhhumbug Sun 02-Feb-14 23:00:57

So basically I have agreed to pay full price for a headstone in the wrong colour ink , in the wrong font and with a capital letter sticking up at the end of a word that shouldn't be there and after enduring the worst customer service possible for over six months ! Please tell me I haven't committed myself to this. I feel like smashing it up if I have sad

iheartdusty Sun 02-Feb-14 23:01:58

one formal letter, then small claims court. he sounds like an idiot. You would have a very strong case.

Bahhhhhumbug Sun 02-Feb-14 23:11:56

Trouble is Oblique my DH has gone into 'washing his hands of it' mode now because although he has been immensely supportive he feels that he gave up his morning to come with me but left me to make my own decision and didn't pressurise me either way. I kept saying what do you think but he kept saying it's up to you. He did say to the stonemason that it was 'all incorrect in that case' when he 'admitted' I had asked for all lower case/italics. But otoh l feel my DH is as fed up of hearing about it as me and was probably relieved when l came to an agreement and now has just washed his hands of it. I do exasperate people/DH with my unassertiveness and then changing my mind afterwards. I partly do worry too much about what people think of me and just felt far too awkward to actually accept his offer of full refund if that makes sense. I would've felt really mean as the chap has bought the marble headstone and vase and would lose money.

Bahhhhhumbug Sun 02-Feb-14 23:17:27

Thanks iheart he is a very arrogant man , I think and I don't think 'bully' is too strong a word for him. What should l do in meantime though as I need to stop him doing this minor alteration of removing the comma or he will claim he has lost more time/money etc. I really feel sick at thought of speaking to him. Funny thing is he has 30 years experience locally ! How on earth with his attitude heaven knows as he is totally wrong personality for his trade imo.

clam Sun 02-Feb-14 23:32:10

If your dad is only being interred this week, then surely the headstone can't be erected for quite some time afterwards? For mil, I seem to remember it was 12 months? Although she was buried, not cremated, so it may be different. So, you have some time to work this out.

I can't help with the legalities of this, but I will say I think this guy has behaved appallingly - a professional and caring attitude is vital, particularly when dealing with the bereaved.

So sorry for your loss.

Bahhhhhumbug Sun 02-Feb-14 23:33:44

Oh and not to drip feed but another thing he kept repeating was that the paper templates (hand drawn) he had sent me after I 'changed' his words to my own personal choice (!) and then after being told on the phone it was too many words having to edit the words 'again' (only one edit though as far as I'm concerned!) - were all in capitals (they were) so I 'knew he was going to do it all in capitals'.
I said that I was focusing by that point on the words (as that's what had been changed iyswim) not the font etc. as I presumed he was going to use the font I requested hmm and had only done template in small capitals in place of small case letters/italics because they are much easier to write out if that makes sense. I said I didn't understand why he would do templates in the totally opposite font to what I had requested and didn't think that was significant at the time.

Bahhhhhumbug Sun 02-Feb-14 23:44:36

Thank you Clam. My dad was cremated ( about eight months ago now) and the corner of the cemetery for cremation plots is sort of shingly whereas rest is (very boggy at moment) grass but stonemason told us that the hole is to be dug in front of where he will erect the headstone , so they don't actually put it over the hole itself and it can all be done on same day ? Another thing aswell is he said (after I 'agreed' to this 'compromise') he would come along and put the headstone up straight after we've done the internment.
I don't want him anywhere near tbh ! but of course didn't have the assertiveness to say we just want immediate family there <rolls eyes> . He is last person l want anywhere near!

Mouldypineapple Sun 02-Feb-14 23:46:35

He sounds like a totally unprofessional pain in the neck! And yes the last person who should be dealing with the bereaved. No advice really but maybe a strongly worded letter clearly spelling out what you've said here and asking for it to be made appropriately -or perhaps a solicitor (free half hour session?) would be appropriate. More likely to take notice then. And they could advise what to do next. Good luck.

Bahhhhhumbug Sun 02-Feb-14 23:58:56

Thank you Mouldy. I don't think he would do it all again as he would have rather give me a full refund cheque there and then (except for plot for which he has passed on the money and is now ours) on Friday than blot out/fill in /whatever they do ! a capital F at the end of a line and re-engrave it with a smaller F ( or even a lowercase f would've done ).
That seems ludicrous to me as the headstone and vase which he has laid out for already are useless to him and I think are a measure of how bloody awkward he is frankly. for the sake of altering one letter at the end of a line !!
But a solicitors letter might make him 'see the light' if he does now refuse to give me this refund.

Bahhhhhumbug Mon 03-Feb-14 00:11:25

'this is a measure' I meant to say !

I think I am gonna have to text ring him first thing tomorrow and tell him not to fill in/blot out the comma as discussed and that on reflection would rather have the refund he offered me after all. I might also tell him that when we visited the cemetery after visiting him we had a good look round the surrounding graves to find an 'oF' that he had said was 'how it's done in the trade' and could not find one single one. We only saw 'Of' or 'of' and therefore felt his reason given for refusing to do that one small correction was untrue and so have decided not to accept this any longer.

differentnameforthis Mon 03-Feb-14 01:25:54

Don't make do. Not over this. This is where you will go to talk to your dad, to be with him, you will hate it & it will forever taint your memories.

Get you money back, or cut your losses & find someone who actually cares about the person they are doing the job for, not so shoddy person who doesn't give a crap about your grief.

differentnameforthis Mon 03-Feb-14 01:30:00

And your dh needs a kick up the bum! Couldn't he see your upset? Mine would be down there sorting it out or demanding money back.

Yet your dh has 'washed his hand of it' sad I hope this isn't how my dh deals with my grief when my father passes.

Bahhhhhumbug Mon 03-Feb-14 09:02:43

differentname DH will probably come round he just is exasperated with me because he made the phone call for me , arranged the meeting because I am pathetically I know 'scared' of the man and also he had a morning off work to come with me for moral support. But then he left it entirely up to me in our meeting whether I went for the money back and started again or lived with the correcting of the comma only. He didn't want to influence me either way as like you say it is such an important thing there forever etc. and personal to me. DH isn't as pedantic as me and is very very laid back and although he did argue with stonemason that he had done it in different font than l asked etc. DH then did concede it looked 'alright' (it does apart from the 'oF' and the comma tbh if that had been what I asked for !!!) but left it entirely up to me and would support me either way.
DH used to help dad with his personal care in last few months of his life when he wouldn't let the carers help him and used to literally have to hose poor dad down in the shower and he died of bowel cancer so you can imagine what state he was in sad. I used to listen to DH telling dad daft jokes etc to put him at ease whilst he was showering him and it must've been an awful job and DH is a joiner by trade , so not something he ever dreamt he could do but his sympathy for my dads predicament overrode any 'bleugh, I couldn't do that' factor. So although l accept DH should be shoulder to shoulder with me to the end on this and you are right about that , I do need to leap to his defence to a large degree. He facilitated my chance to sort it once and for all and I blew it basically because I hate confrontation and felt that just taking my money back leaving the stonemason with significant losses would've been quite a hostile thing to do. I just desperately wanted to come to a mutually beneficial conclusion , not walk away with bad feeling. But now I have the bad feeling as a result. In contrast DH is a very assertive straight talking person also and I don't think really fully understands how difficult I find these situations which affects my judgement.

Bahhhhhumbug Mon 03-Feb-14 09:04:37

I meant if the capital lettering and the colour ink had been what I asked for , there obviously.

msrisotto Mon 03-Feb-14 10:16:34

Ok. If your DH is an assertive person, let him deal with this from now on.
You can surely say to him that you felt pressured at the time, but having had time to reflect, you aren't happy and want to get someone else to do the headstone. He might feel a bit irritated that you made the decision at the time but actually, you were under pressure.

I totally know what it feels like to have pressure to make a decision on the spot - in the future, just say to whoever it is that you will think on it and get back to them, it gives you the space to make the decision you actually want.

Oh and don't worry about feeling like you're being hostile, this bloke has been nothing but since the off.

Bahhhhhumbug Mon 03-Feb-14 11:17:42

Thank you msrisotto . I have sent the chap a text (cowardly I know) this morning saying on reflection I feel it is too important to compromise and would like to go for the refund option and asked him to make the cheque payable to me at usual address etc. I rang DH first and told him l was going to do so hoping he would offer to ring him after all and he said that was fine by him and then we just chatted about other things. Anyway on text I resisted temptation to be apologetic in any way but was just very matter of fact but polite. Not replied so far but will keep you all posted.

msrisotto Mon 03-Feb-14 11:58:56

Well done!
Have you ever read any books or anything on improving your assertiveness? I used to be much more wimpy than I am now and I think assertiveness training helped. Just a suggestion - Amazon

Bahhhhhumbug Mon 03-Feb-14 13:28:09

Thanks mrs I have looked at stuff like that before and did do a conflict resolution course at work. I have known for a long time that my problem mainly is being a dedicated 'people pleaser' (for example my headstone 'compromise' was based more on what my DH might be thinking/hoping for a resolution and the feelings/cost to the stonemason with my needs /feelings coming a close third!). So I do know really what my problem is and even what to do about it. I have over last decades become so much better and more asertive (divorced abusive,belittling first husband for one! ) but I just reverted to type for some reason with this man and maybe being such an emotive subject too. I think I will have another read though of one of these books because this has knocked my confidence somewhat and I am very annoyed at myself and don't want to feel like this again , so need a refresher course I think !.
I think this is why my DH will only speak for me to a degree in this instance because admittedly the more I can stand behind someone in these situations the more I will do so and yet the more I stand up to them myself the better I will become at it. My DH , I feel , is very concerned at the fact I have let someone intimidate me to the degree that I am physically scared of communicating with them even by phone and I know l am second guessing him but I think he feels that doing too much is not doing me any favours ultimately. He often says how meek and almost cowed I was when we met and loves the fact I am now so much more confident with people and definitely doesn't want me to slide back to how I was.
On the subject of the headstone saga I have also rang another (well recommended) stonemason this morning with view to appointing them and had a chat about my problems with first one. They were predictably horrified but also assured me that his claims of 'that's how we do it in the trade' are nonsense about the word 'oF'. They also said that his other claim that the large capital O would take up too much room as opposed to a large capital F therefore meaning the word would be too close to the edge , was baffling as all letters in the same font take up exactly same width of space (don't think I mentioned that nugget in my OP).
They did agree with him on one point only however and that was that if he simply corrected the one letter (F) and then re-engraved over it , then you would be able to see that and they too would personally prefer to start from scratch and grind back the whole stone and start again. So he wasn't being simply awkward it seems by saying he would rather 'abandon ship' completely rather than just correct one letter.
They also said they had a couple in before Christmas who'd had an 'open book' style stone done by him and had him inscribe one side but were most upset when they went back to him and he wouldn't do the other side when another relative died. Apparently he was very funny with them and didn't even have the decency to give them an excuse , just a flat refusal.
I would bet my last pound that they too were 'difficult customers' like me and made him do some amendments first time round.

Bahhhhhumbug Mon 03-Feb-14 13:34:36

They also said they would have rather ground back the whole stone and start again rather than just offer a refund and leave a grieving relative without the headstone they had lovingly planned and envisaged for months , a few days before their loved ones internment.
I like them , they sound lovely !

Bahhhhhumbug Mon 03-Feb-14 13:42:12

They are convinced btw that he simply made a mistake with the oF and didn't want to have to start from scratch to correct it satisfactorily as he should have done as explained above. Hence the attempts to riddle out of it with false 'excuses' that don't hold any water. he also said it would look 'unbalanced' the other way round (Iforgot that nugget too ! ) hmm

Bahhhhhumbug Mon 03-Feb-14 13:56:33

Oh and also (I am wittering away to myself now grin ) they said they had a similar situation years ago with a family whose relative was called Maud. The relative they dealt with had mistakenly put an 'e' on the end and they did the headstone with the names in capitals. Meaning when the other relatives noticed this rogue 'E' on Auntie Mauds name they queried it. The stonemasons actually did grind back the whole stone and start again without extra charge , to get deceaseds name correct , even though technically they hadn't made the mistake , the customer had.

ToffeeOwnsTheSausage Mon 03-Feb-14 14:03:32

Definitely right to not make do. I really hope he gives you back your refund and you are able to get a stone for your father that you want and he deserves.

Bahhhhhumbug Mon 03-Feb-14 14:13:37

Thank you Toffee. Funny enough my dad could be a cantankerous old so and so and be really awkward and difficult at times , bless him though he was a lovely man (we used to affectionately call him 'Victor Meldrew' ) . I am sure one day I will laugh at the irony of him being the subject of such a troublesome consumer battle up to a year after he died no doubt. grin

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