A concreting company has sparked an online debate after workers began tearing up a customer’s freshly laid driveway after they refused to pay the remainder of an invoice.

Clare Concreting worker, Damian Hallet, said they had been hired to lay a concrete driveway at a home in the South Australian town of Clare. Before completing the final stage of work, he asked the customer to pay the full invoice.

But once the concrete had been poured, the customer refused to pay the outstanding $3,500 of a $13,500 bill. Hallet and his business partner, Jamie Sommerville, said they gave the customer plenty of time to make the payment, but never received it.

So they warned the customer of their intention to ‘collect their materials’. “When I turned up there, I waited outside for 15 minutes, he was looking out the curtain and I pulled a bit of the concrete up and he finally came out,” Hallet explained.

Sommerville added that rather than settling the remaining balance, the customer attempted to negotiate a lower price. “It quotes in our contract that all materials are owned by Clare Concreting until paid in full. So we went there, gave them a bit of a chance, didn’t start straight away and then came in and started digging it up.”

The workers were filmed ripping up the customer’s driveway and police were called to the scene to help the two parties reach an agreement. Mr Hallett posted on Instagram: “We have been paid in full on the day. Thanks to South Australian police involvement.

The workers received about 500 messages from other tradesmen, who supported their actions. “People have said, stand up for yourselves, we idolise you guys…It’s great to see someone do this and hopefully people understand that tradesmen do work hard and want to get paid,“ Sommerville said.

But Lawyer Morry Bailes advised that contractors could potentially face trespass or property damage charges for such actions. Emphasising a better alternative would be to seek legal advice. “It depends on a couple of things, first of all, what the contract provides for and secondly what negotiations might have gone on between the parties. We haven’t heard from the landowner.”

The tradies later revealed why they took the tough approach, having been left $14,000 out-of-pocket for a job last year. “We’re still recovering from that. We’re just hard-working Aussies. It’s a hard trade, concreting.” Mr Somerville explained.

In the aftermath of the incident, opinions remain divided, with some applauding the workers for standing up for their rights while others question the appropriateness of their actions.

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