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I hired a mowing company to mow my lawn. In the "NOTES" section of the contract, I specified I wanted mowing to occur every other week rather than weekly. In addition, I stated the same in my e-mail when I sent in the scanned/signed copy of the contract.

4 weeks later, I was informed that the owner of the mowing company did not read the contract until then and did not notice my request. He stated that he does not allow for anything other than weekly mowing services. His own contract even says that customers can skip mowing for a week whenever so long as they give him 2 days advance notice, but clearly he does not even abide by his own contract. I cancelled services with him and he sent me a bill for the full 4 weeks.

I am thinking that his failure to read my requested terms and inform me that he could not meet my requested terms until 4 weeks after services began was his own negligence.

Legally speaking, am I responsible for paying the full 4 weeks billed? Do I have the right to pay for just 2 weeks considering that he breached the terms requested in the contract?

  • How many times did he mow your lawn? (This might not be legally significant, but probably an important emotional fact that can affect settlement) – David Jun 26 '17 at 4:51
  • @David - He mowed my lawn a total of 4 times until he informed me that he just noticed after 4 weeks that I had requested mowing every other week. – THE DOCTOR Jun 26 '17 at 13:41
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My take on this problem is that it is a classic tension between unjust enrichment and contract terms. You contracted for only 2 mows and he delivered 4 mows accidently. If you pay only for two mows, you got the benefit of two extra mows (the unjust enrichment), but are paying for something that you didn't ask for (the contract terms). If you pay for all 4, you are paying for a service you didn't want. In my opinion, you would probably end up winning in a small claims type of action because you specifically requested a less frequent mowing, and the lawn service accepted your terms. But this is far from a done deal, for instance if you knew about the extra mowings, but didn't stop them, (or they can paint that picture regardless of your real state of mind) it looks like you tried to get free mowings without paying for it, which might lower your chances of winning.

Practically, I would concentrate on the negotiations rather than the legal stance because no amount of legal correctness will probably convince the business owner, and it probably isn't a worth his time to sue you to recover. You could send a check with a letter explaining that you had only requested two mowings, and that you are only willing to pay for 2. Write "Paid in Full" on the check in the memo area, and hope they cash it. If so, you are probably done because you had a legitimate dispute about the amount owed, and you offered to settle for the amount of the check. Cashing the check probably counts as acceptance of your offer. The other choice the business owner has is to send you to collections, where they will probably recover less than your 50% payment, so the dollar-wise move on their part is to just cash the check.

You can see more about "paid in full" checks here: http://www.weisslawstl.com/2005/12/01/accord-satisfaction-how-notation-check-sometimes-unwittingly-resolve-payment-dispute

It may vary according to the jurisdiction you live in.

I had a similar dispute with an electrician. I had warned him before he came out that I had isolated the problem to a long line of buried cable that required special equipment to diagnose. I asked them to show up with the right equipment to diagnose, including boots and machetes to follow the run of cable. They showed up with neither, failed to diagnose the problem, then sent me a bill for the callout. I explained my position and that I was happy to either go to court if they wanted to sue, or go to court if they turned me over to collections, and that they should just walk away and I wouldn't complain about the time they wasted showing up unprepared to diagnose my problem. They did walk away after much huffing-and-puffing about it.

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We can presume that the person you dealt with in setting thus up was an authorized agent of the company's owner – if not, you don't have a contract with the company (so no obligation to them). Your biweekly condition on mowing is part of the contract which they offered and you accepted. In saying that he only allows weekly mowing which has to be interpreted as a declaration that he won't live up to the contract, he has repudiated the contract. That then gives the other party (you) the right to terminate the contract (and thus you won't own anything). It is immaterial (to your position) that he failed to read the contract, though he might want to have a word with his agents about allowing such modifications of his policy in future contracts.

It's unclear from the question whether he has mowed your lawn, how many times, and at what frequency. If for example he mowed the lawn on a weekly basis contrary to your stated intent (i.e. once and then again a week later) and you did not complain, that can be interpreted as you accepting a modified version of the contract (one without the "biweekly only" condition), in which case you could be on the hook since you repudiated the contract by cancelling it.

  • The person I dealt with is the owner of the company. As mentioned, he billed me for 4 weeks of work meaning that he claims he mowed my lawn 4 times (once every week). I did not know that he was mowing my lawn weekly until he complained about my terms that I included in the contract 4 weeks after the contract began. That is when I cancelled services with him. – THE DOCTOR Jun 26 '17 at 13:45
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The standard could potentially be that at the time that you knew or should have known of the company's mistake of fact you should have cancelled. That should probably involve the fact of how fast your grass grows and whether you did or should have noticed that it was cut, for example, when you got home from work on mowing day. But as the above poster said, if can pass the "knowledge" hurdle, you may be good to go. Make sure to consult an attorney if this proceeds to a legal case.

  • lol what is the standard for downvotes, by the way? – A.fm. Jun 29 '17 at 21:33

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