First of all, you need to calm down again when facing these people.
1. Risk Assessment
This technique is part of Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and helps soldiers and other people with PTSD, who are hyper-aware and expect danger at ever corner, to dial their anxiety down to an appropriate level.
CPT focuses on learning skills to evaluate whether you thoughts are supported by facts and if there are more helpful ways to think about your trauma. Source
A risk is composed of the severity of an adverse effect and the probability of this adverse effect happening.
In your case, the adverse effect would be those people destroying your floor. The severity is medium (your property is endagered, but your health and life are not).
Now what is the probability?
- These people would need to find big tools (like a sledgehammer, pick or chainsaw) to even be able to destroy your floor.
- They would need to pack these tools into a car and drive to your house.
- They need to enter your property and your house against your will (read: through locked doors).
- They then need to exert a lot of physical work to actually damage the floor with their tools.
- The only thing they gain from their actions is the knowledge that you won't be able to use the items you paid only in part.
- In turn, they risk being arrested for committing several crimes at once.
You see, the probability of them actually following through is close to zero. You can lower the chance even further with the next steps.
You agreed to pay a price for items you hadn't seen at that time. The price made you assume a certain quality of those items. Seeing that they are damaged and don't meet your expectation, the situation changed and warrants a renegotiation of the price.
Make a list of what you were promised
The former owners promised you a list of things like:
- kitchen furniture
- kitchen appliances
You have to assume that these items are not new, but functional and not broken, otherwise they wouldn't be sold, right?
Note the price for all these items on the bottom of your list. Since the price was quite high to begin with, you assumed the items were in top condition, not run down and broken. You can compare the price to what new appliances would cost to strengthen your argument. This is a very important argument in your re-negotiation and you should note it down with the original price.
Make a list of defects
Next to the first list, note down anything that's broken or in bad condition. Then determine how much repairing or replacing the defect items would cost. Don't assume the price a friend would pay, but how much it would cost to buy new items in a regular store or how much a craftsman would ask for a professional repair.
Substract these costs from the overall price you agreed to pay before seeing the defects. Take notes of all your arguments to be prepared for the actual negotiation
Be proactive, contact them first
I'm well aware that this will be very difficult for you, but you need to be the one who initiates the renegotiation. The person calling / speaking first is usually the one who sets the tone for a discussion, so you cannot let them put you in a powerless position by the first accusation they utter when you pick up the phone.
Keeping your anxiety in mind, it might be better to write them an email or even a letter. Take an example in warning letters by lawyers and use a very strict language that leaves no room for arguments. You can take your time formulating this email without your anxiety limiting your options. Keep it civilized, but don't waste your time with pleasentries.
I found this article "Who gets heard and why" by Harvard Business Review very enlightening in that aspect. You must be (and always stay) aware that these people are constantly trying to put you in a position below them. By trying to find a compromize and make everyone happy, you contribute to your own lack of power and let them manipulate you into things you don't want.
That said, do not mention the recent passing of your grandma. It's a very sad situation and will surely agitate your emotions. Avoid that at any cost. If you have to explain yourself, say no more than "I won't pay you right now" or "I don't have the money right now."
I personally found that play-acting to be a strong man is very helpful in such a situation. Square your shoulders, raise your head and stare your immaginary enemy right into the eyes. Keep in mind that they cannot see you through the phone or computer screen. It doesn't matter how much you sweat or tremble, as long as vour voice is play-acting a strong man. Standing up during the discussion is helpful, too, because it adds to the role you're playing.
Have your list of facts and arguments at hand if you call them or add a spreadsheet to your mail. It adds to the illusion of being strong and clever, knowing all the facts and finding the right arguments at the right time. Tell them that their price is not reasonable for the conditions of the items and tell them (don't ask them) what you are willing to pay instead and why.
3. Offer solutions
Telling them their price in unreasonable but not offering any alternatives puts the ball back into their field and gives them the initiative to coerce you into paying the full price anyways. Don't do that. Offer them a list of alternatives and don't accept any solution but one you offered.
You have entered into a poorly written contract that settles the exchange of items against a certain amount of money. Both parties are required to fulfill it, so you cannot withheld money from them, but they cannot withheld fully functional wares fron you either. If the contract doesn't contain the words "as is" or specifies that the items are sold in whatever condition they're currently in, it's reasonable for you to expect fully functional items. Since that's not the case, the other people are not fulfilling their part of the contract.
Make it clear that you are willing to fulfill the contract, but not under the current conditions.
You should offer the following solutions:
- You pay the rest of the money minus the cost for replacements and repairs.
- You pay the full price only if they hire qualified and professional craftsmen to do the repairs and you only pay after all repairs are done. Don't accept offers from them to come around and do the repairs themselves.
- You offer to remove the items from your house and hand them over outside of your property only after they returned the initial payment. At no point in time are they welcome to enter your property.
That way you are the active negotiator and dictate your terms, instead of hoping for a reasonable offer from them.
It also offers you a strategy to postprone payment. It's not unusual to pay only after all defects were repaired, so you reserve the right to postprone payment until both parties have come to terms about the contract.
As said above, your grandma is not part of the discussion, avoid mentioning her at any cost. Lie if you must, but I'm sure it's not much of a lie if you tell them you're not willing to pay until the defects are repaired or your current move left you short on money.