Based on a Twitter thread from a mid sized YouTube personality:

I have been emailed MORE THAN 10 TIMES by a service I'd like to be sponsored with that I will not name
Every time they email me, I say I'd love to work with them, then the middle men come back to me and say they don't work with gaming channels

Would it be legal for this creator, or another creator, to stipulate on their contact information page that contacting them for a sponsorship deal when the contacting entity has policies that would make a sponsorship arrangement not possible, and then withdrawing that sponsorship offer when the creator replies with interest, incurs an automatic administrative fees invoice for wasting the creator's time? And would the company be legally obligated to pay that invoice?? I think I've heard a couple of stories about people who put a clause like that on their contact page, sent the invoice and had the company pay the invoice. I'm interested in Canadian, USA and Belgian/EU laws on the subject.

  • 25
    Just to nitpick: It's almost certainly legal to send the bill; the question is whether the bill must be paid.
    – bdb484
    Jun 28 at 16:58
  • 4
    Invoicing and collecting such a fee would likely take more time and effort than it is worth. (Oh, if I could only bill every email solicitor that wasted my time...) Jun 28 at 17:58
  • 1
    You could send an automatic response to such emails. "Please note that consideration of your request may incur a processing fee of up to $20 if your request does not meet the following criteria: ..." If you agree to these terms and want your request processed please answer to this email with "I agree to those terms" - otherwise your request will be ignored.
    – Falco
    Jun 29 at 12:34
  • 3
    You can't bill them for wasting your time, but you might be able to report them as spammers, violating the CAN-SPAM law in the US. This is usually difficult to enforce because the spammers are difficult to track down, but it sounds like you know who these people are.
    – Barmar
    Jun 29 at 14:27
  • 1
    Bro needs to say "no can do, I have an upcoming deal to sponsor <their competitor>". Jul 1 at 1:51

3 Answers 3


If you have an agreement with a company that specifies "you agree to give me something of value, in case I give you something of value", you have a contract. In order for there to be a contract, there has to be actual acceptance of the offer. You can put out on a web page some contract stating those terms, and if you get positive acceptance of the contract (hence the standard click-through technology), then as long as you have done the thing promised, you can bill them for doing the thing promised.

It's not clear what thing of value you are offering on the web page, since it's not "doing actual work". Them sending you an email isn't you doing something. One thing you could do is block all incoming emails, and for money you agree to unblock emails from registered subscribers.

Just announcing that you will bill anyone for emailing you does not create a contract, because the emailer need not have even seen your announcement. This is why e-contracts need a click-through button. It's legal to request money, but there is no legal obligation for them to comply. That will be $10, please.

  • 6
    It would be illegal to send something that looks like a bill but is actually a solicitation. You can't send someone a bill with the hopes of forming a contract by tricking the recipient into believing you already had a contract. This of course would come down to intent and whether the bill-sender genuinely believes there's already a contract, so it may not apply here. But in general, it would be illegal false invoicing to just send bills to people knowing they did not agree to the charges - it can be illegal to request that someone pay you depending on the circumstances. Jun 28 at 18:28
  • 3
    @NuclearHoagie : sadly, that has been becoming a common practice. Some scammers are sending bogus bills for vague-sounding services en masse, which are low-cost enough that many people might be tricked into believing it's simpler to jut pay them than to research whether they really have to pay them. Even if only 1% of the victims pay those few dollars, as long as they send out millions upon millions of such bills, they can make a profit.
    – vsz
    Jun 29 at 4:06
  • 1
    "By contacting me using the above link about a possible sponsorship, you agree to enter into a contract. On my part, I will consider your sponsorship offer and respond. In the event that you have pre-existing policies against sponsoring me, you agree to pay me X$ for my consideration and response; however, if there is no such pre-existing policy on your side, then I will waive my consideration fee." -- the thing of "value" (considering their proposal) is listed explicitly as well as the terms. The click-through merely exists so you can prove they knew of the agreement.
    – Yakk
    Jun 30 at 14:07
  • @Yakk And that's why email is so popular for spammers. There's no barrier to unsolicited contact. There's no possibility of someone preventing you from sending them an email, for any purpose or even no purpose. (They can only control what happens to it in transit, or on the receiving end.) And you can buy lists of many, many thousands of addresses, then just spam them all for as close to no cost as makes any difference in advertising.
    – FeRD
    Jul 1 at 16:02

In theory it is possible to actually bill them. Whether you can get paid is the other matter, and whether you want to go to court is again something very different.

Most people consider legally binding "contract" to be a lenghty text on paper, signed and stamped by representatives of parties involved. This is not entirely true. Most of the daily activities that involve exchanging money are also contracts, although in different form.

For example, the combination of the offer and acceptance of the said offer constitutes a legally binding contract. So for example, when you see a person with a hot dog cart with the advertisement "hot dogs, $10", that's an offer. When you approach the person manning the cart and say "I will have one", that is your acceptance of the contract.

If you find stone in the said hot dog and break your tooth, that is breach of the contract, because the offer "hot dogs $10" clearly stipulates edible hot dogs, and the seller did not deliver promised goods. If you get your hot dog and run without paying, that is breach of the contract.

All of these can be legally enforced through courts.

Back to your case. If you carefully document their persistent offers and make sure they are not pranks, that they are clearly made by people with authority to offer you something, and you accept it each time, then perhaps you could build a legal case that would have some chance of succeeding to enforce their payment (of course you NEED to supply the services as well).

  • 1
    "because the offer "hot dogs $10" clearly stipulates edible hot dogs", IMHO that's an assumption on your part and not a stipulation. Especially if you didn't read the fine print that says "may contain gravel". It still however maybe a health code violation.
    – Peter M
    Jul 1 at 13:44
  • "Hot dogs that don't violate the health code for saleable food items, $10" DOES seem like it would be implicit in the offer, though. And "hot dogs*, $10 *–(may contain gravel)" would be a health code violation even before making the sale.
    – FeRD
    Jul 1 at 15:54
  • The thing I never understood about these everyday verbal contracts is: what happens if you order hot dogs, and then once they take your order, they tell you they're out of mustard. Or you order something, pay for it, and then end up waiting 2+ hours when you expected to be out in 30 minutes. Did they breach a contract? I dunno, what was even in the contract?
    – user541686
    Jul 1 at 18:51
  • @peterM Again, it is a common misconception that you can put an asterisk and small print "may contain gravel". No. There is the question of what would reasonable person expect when offered "hot dog with asterisk". It would not be gravel. You (as a seller of hot dogs) would lose in court.
    – xmp125a
    Jul 3 at 6:54
  • @user541686 Again, the question what is reasonable. "Sir, I can offer you hot dog but we ran out of mustard" takes care of this problem. Reasonable expectations are part of the law as well. They are not written, but still legally binding. Look up "trade usages". They essentially allow transaction to be considered a full contract even if it is not 50+ pages long, covering all eventualities.
    – xmp125a
    Jul 3 at 6:59

Contracts made in derogation of existing law are void. Contract made under a mutual mistake of fact are often voidable when the mistake makes performance more burdensome. Unilateral mistakes do not usually give the mistaken party an out. There is a different set of rules that govern mistakes of law, which I can not currently recall.

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