Originally Posted by Phobia
You wouldn't do business me then. We make and agree upon a sensible payment schedule before work commences. That way if you get hit by a bus or are trying to take advantage of me, I don't lose my house. If I get hit by a bus or am trying to take advantage of you, you're not hurt too badly either. I can't buy $5k worth of material and then float you a loan while paying for the labor to have it all installed. There's a reasonable compromise and if you do business with reputable people who have real businesses your risk is minimal. If you do business with people from craigslist or want ads, you're going to be screwed more often than not. I've been hurt a whole lot worse by deadbeat clients than this guy was screwed by a scam artist.
When I've done work with contractors that needed material and wanted a deposit we always had paperwork to cover ourselves. I should note here that I've never done business on craigslist. A reputable contractor shouldn't ask for money without some kind of paperwork. I might give a repeat contractor an advance, but that would be a situation where you've developed a trust with the guy. I would like to think that in a bigger metropolitan area than I'm in the contractor would be bonded.