0

I talked directly to an employee at a local manufacturing company, over email, about a custom small project. They wrote up a quote and I agreed to it. However, they never acknowledged my acceptance, and I hadn't heard from them in 4 weeks. I received a call saying my order is ready for pick up. A week into no response, I decided I didn't want to do the project anymore. Am i legally obligated to pay for and pick up the product? I never signed anything.

EDIT: Important information regarding the quote. The quote mentions "delivery 2 weeks ARO". There was no payment or receipt and the work was not completed within 2 weeks. It also mentions, payment in cash on delivery.

  • 2
    You asked for work to be done. They made an offer. You accepted. Why would they be required to acknowledge your acceptance? Should you be required to acknowledge their acknowledgement? When does the cycle of acknowledgements end?!? What makes you believe that you did not enter into a contract when you agreed o their quote? – brhans Jul 18 at 17:24
  • 'I never signed anything' means only that there is no written proof that you did agree. If it came to court, you would have the choice of admitting the truth (and paying the bill plus possible legal costs) or lying on oath, with a severe risk of being jailed for perjury. – Tim Lymington Jul 18 at 17:29
  • Not that it may matter, the project was in the $100 range. @brhans That's why I am asking. To answer those questions. – Eric Jul 18 at 17:31
  • @TimLymington: While there's not a signature, there may still be "written proof". The transaction was conducted via e-mail, and there may be an e-mail on the company's server from Eric saying "I agree". – Michael Seifert Jul 18 at 18:07
  • I've edited my question and added some information I think is important. – Eric Jul 18 at 18:07
4

You are not obligated to pick the thing up, but you are obligated to pay. Analogously, if you go into a restaurant and order a steak, you are obligated to pay for it, but you are not obligated to eat it. You can cancel the steak order within some reasonable short period of time (maybe a minute) – it depends on whether they have relied on your acceptance of their offer, and have done anything that puts them in a worse situation (such as "started cooking it"). You could have informed them that you decided that you didn't want the thing and they might have been able to cancel the order with no or minimum cost to you (depends on whether your job was simply "in the queue", or had they done something like ordered parts or detrimentally committed an employee to some schedule so that other customers could not be serviced). Once you accept their offer, you have an enforceable contract.

The additional information about lateness of delivery doesn't clearly change the situation. If there were an explicit "time is of the essence" clause in your contract, related to any delay causing harm, then failure to meet a deadline could constitute a breach of contract. For example, if you have a contract where you will be transported to a location by a specific deadline so that you can get on the boat, failure to meet that deadline causes material harm (if you miss the boat, you suffer a loss). You apparently do not have any such clause, and there's no indication that you suffered a loss because of the delay in delivery. A reasonable delay would not be interpreted as the other party breaching the contract.

  • I've edited my question and added some information I think is important. – Eric Jul 18 at 18:07
  • 1
    Technically, cancelling the steak is an offer to change the contract that may be accepted or rejected by the restaurant with whatever conditions are agreed. – Dale M Jul 18 at 21:48
  • I wonder whether that's correct. When you cancel the order, there's already a contract, but I think the customer would have a strong argument that the contract should be interpreted to account for trade customs, which would likely permit him to rescind the contract within a very short period of time. – bdb484 Jul 19 at 3:04
1

It seems to me that the company would have a pretty strong case if they decided to sue you in small claims court to recover their expenses. The quote that they sent you and your acceptance of same (either via e-mail or verbally) would probably be viewed as sufficient to constitute a contract: they offered to make the object in exchange for a certain amount of money, you agreed to the terms, and you were both on the same page about what was being discussed.

The fact that there was a delay in the performance of the contract (i.e., they took 4 weeks to complete the job when the quote said 2 weeks) might weigh in your favor, but it doesn't sound like the contract (such as it was) addressed what would happen if the job wasn't completed on time. If there wasn't any specific clause in the contract concerning delays, the standard is whether the delays were "reasonable". They could probably make an argument that a two-week delay is reasonable and that they proceeded with the job in good faith, and that it was incumbent upon you to cancel the job if you wanted to back out. Your case would have been stronger if you had attempted to contact them to cancel the job.

If they did successfully sue you, they would have to show damages. In this case, the damages would be any expenses they incurred in the process of creating the object for you. Since these expenses would probably include materials & labor—exactly the things you agreed to pay them for in the first place—the damages would probably be at least as much as the amount you agreed to in the contract.

It is conceivable that if you take the "screw you, I'm not paying" route, they may decide that it's not worth the aggravation to take you to court over such a small sum. The likelihood of this scenario might depend on how easy it is to file a small claims case in your jurisdiction, and how vindictive the company's management wants to be. Pursuing this route does mean, of course, that you shouldn't expect this company to ever want to do business with you in the future.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.