I got ripped off twice in 1 week

There was a time when $400 didn’t mean much to me. I’d made that much before in 1 night dealing poker. These days, it’s a lot.

The city made an exception for me and allowed me to move to the next phase of the process to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy. This is the document that allows me to operate a store legally in Dallas. It’s what I’ve been after since signing the lease in April. This would be great news if not for what has happened since.

To obtain my certificate, my store has to pass 4 inspections —

  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Mechanical
  • Building Safety

It failed all 4 inspections. But it wasn’t a total loss. 3 of the 4 failures were easy fixes that my uncle knocked out for me in a few hours. The 4th one, the electrical, has turned out to be hell incarnate.

The inspector said the electric panel was installed without a permit, and to pass the inspection I needed to hire a licensed electrician to pull a permit for it and make sure it was installed correctly. That’s it. No actual work, just legitimizing work that’s already been done. He said a licensed electrician will likely charge me $300-$400.

So I put an ad on Craigslist last Monday, July 3rd.

The first version of this ad said $400. Anyway I scheduled 3 guys to come out to the store and 2 showed up. I hired one. He said he wanted half the money up front and the other half when the job was done. I gave him $200. Never heard from him again. My brother even checked out his electrician license and it was legit.

I held out hope for 4 days that this wasn’t a con job, but alas, it was. I wanted to file a complaint and a police report but I don’t have time to deal with all that shit. 4 days of stress was enough. I reposted the ad.

I scheduled 2 guys on a Sunday, 1 showed up. He said he could do it for $350, didn’t ask for any money up front. That made me happy! The next day, I didn’t hear from him all day. Having already been through a 4 day flake job, and having not given this guy any money, I scheduled another guy to come out.

The 3rd guy showed me his electrician license and his plumbers license and his ID and all that shit. He wanted half the money up front as well. He promised that he would go to the city office and get the permit in the morning. I wrote him a check. That was yesterday.

Today he calls me and says he couldn’t get the permit and was trying to explain some bullshit excuse as to why. He offered to meet me at the store and explain it to me clearly. I went to the store. He never showed up.

So yea I was defrauded out of $200 not once, but twice in the last week.

The funny part is today, the 2nd guy who never asked for money up front applied for the permit. We are waiting for the application to be approved.

But of course, my state of mind right now is so anxious that I seriously doubt this guy will come through as well.

What I learned

I have been pounding my brain trying to pinpoint where I have gone wrong.

Is it Craigslist? CL has been a reliable resource for me in the past.

I thought maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m not as good a judge of character as I thought. But here’s the thing about that, I want my default position to be one of trust. My premonition has always been to trust strangers until they break that trust. Yes it will burn me sometimes like it did this time, and like it has in the past, but that’s the price you have to pay to be a warm, caring, loving, and trusting human being in a shitty world. It’s the nice guy tax. Or maybe it’s just the stupid fucking idiot tax. Either way, I’ve been paying it my whole life.

What I should’ve done is tap my network. Yes it is a tiny network, but each of the people I know in this city might know a few hundred, and maybe among them is a recommendation. It’s a lot harder to rip someone off if your friend recommended you to them. Then, you have to answer to your friend.

Today sitting in the parking lot of a Boston Market I called 2 people I know in Dallas, and they both had an electrician to recommend. Here’s me after those calls —

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