The route to rectifying these situations can be a long and painful one, particularly where there is no option but to take legal action.
Identifying a suitable restorer can take time and often involves a lengthy lead-in period; the best are not usually found sitting in workshops twiddling their thumbs! The following approach represents a reasonable level of the required due diligence:
• Contact several specialists and get to know them over the phone
• Arrange to visit them at their premises to establish the kind of operation they run and the types of vehicles and extent of the restorations being undertaken
• Do they have an archive of previous projects with testimonials?
• Are you able to speak directly to former customers?
• What is the basis of their quotation and what is the lead-in time?
• Is the work specifically detailed with a broad timeframe to completion?
• A prioritised project should have specific timeframes including a scheduled start date
• A quote based on fitting your project around other work may be cheaper, but there is unlikely to be any guarantee of timeframes with the car being ready when it is ready!
• Many will require an upfront deposit with either scheduled staged payments to reflect the work completed or payment upon collection
• If payment is required up front or you are asked for a significant deposit ensure there is an explanation of why and obtain details in writing along with a receipt
• Formally agree a schedule of visits (to reflect the length of the project) enabling you to track progress; alternatively request updates via email / phone with appropriate pictures
• Maintain friendly dialogue through the process and address any concerns as they arise
The above approach may appear extensive, but in the majority of situations you are engaging in a contract of service with somebody you have little knowledge or experience of and getting it right from the start can make this journey, and all of the subsequent ones you have planned in your pride and joy post restoration, much more pleasant.