Smart Money

Carpet Contract Is in Dispute

DEAR BRUCE: My husband and I decided to put new carpeting in our living and dining rooms. The gentleman discussed fees, we signed the contract and I gave him $1,000 cash down. After he left, I went over the contract further and found that there was a discrepancy in the total amount still owed to the company.

The following day I sent an email indicating such and told him we could not afford that difference and we were canceling the contract. He conveniently never mentioned there was a sheet of cancellation hiding on the back page underneath.

We went back and forth with emails for over two weeks (I have all copies). Then they said if we were to cancel they would keep 25 percent of the total amount for restocking fees. Keep in mind, they hadn't even pulled the carpeting yet! We still haven't gone forward, and I don't know what to do or what our rights are. -- B.J.

DEAR B.J.: Essentially, the company is trying very hard to make money off of you. You didn't read the contract closely before you executed it, which is the first major mistake. The second mistake was giving the contractor $1,000 in cash.

Sadly, you might not have the right to cancel the contract unless you can get into a court and demonstrate that the company deliberately or perhaps by mistake overcharged you.

The reality is, if things are as tough as you indicated, you could just wait it out until the company tries to come after you. I would write them a letter explaining that you're not in a position to meet this obligation, that they neglected to clearly present the figures in the contract and, as a consequence, you're not going to pay. The likelihood is they will bother you for a few months and eventually write you off.

DEAR BRUCE: My husband is in a facility for dementia. It costs $60,000 a year, plus sitters cost $52,000 year (10 hours per day at $15 per hour). Our annual income is $150,000.

How much of the medical cost can I deduct? I pay the sitters cash weekly. My living expenses are $2,800 monthly. We do have tax-free interest to help pay the expenses. -- A.M.

DEAR A.M: You have a bunch of issues here. First of all, any money that you're paying out in cash without some kind of receipt can't be counted as a medical cost, and you may end up paying taxes over and above what you could be paying. You're missing out on deductions, which is a shame!

If I were you, I would hire a certified accountant to run the numbers to see where you're going to be. I suspect that with all your legitimate expenses, there will be very little if any tax due.

(Send questions to Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.)

(The Bruce Williams Radio Show can now be heard 24/7 via iTunes and at It is also available at

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