Interior designer not refunding advance payment
I am an NRI, I had hired an interior designer in January this year, her total fees were Rs.2,50,000/-, I was asked to pay 50% as advance and rest will be paid at certain intervals during the project. Her fees only included the planning and execution of the interiors etc. I paid her the 50% advance via online bank transfer, she promised to send a proper agreement and receipts of the payments made to her (payment was made in her personal account). During the COVID-19 lockdown happened and there was no actual work done during this period, she managed to send me some 2D plans (around 5-6 of them) but she was not able to give us the 3D and other detailed plans as mentioned in her scope of work. She provided some quotes from her vendors which were exorbitant so I decided not to go with her vendors.
I was not at all satisfied with her work, and her rude behavior towards me and my wife so I terminated her services and asked her to give me an itemized bill of her work and deduct the charges incurred by her and refund me the remaining amount, she said the amount is non-refundable and refused to refund me the amount. I tried to send her a legal notice but her it was returned back due to “insufficient address”, my family kept calling her but she wouldn’t answer, so I asked someone to contact her posing as a client and got her address. I resent the legal notice to her new address but she unclaimed it.
I started posting bad reviews of her firm online, since I had recommended her to many of my friends and family I didn’t wanted them to fall in the same trap as me. I noticed her website domain was available for purchase so I bought it and put up a notice to alert people of what she has done to me (without any personal attack nor any foul language).
I have not signed any agreement which mentioned that the 50% advance I am paying is non-refundable, she keep mentioning the it was verbal agreement and she has the right to keep the 50%. I would like to know what options do I have in this case. Since she is trying to play the victim card and is threatening me filing a complaint against me for harassing a woman, stalking a woman, and extortion etc, so that I don’t leave her bad reviews.