Say a business overcharges me. Examples:

  • Cleaner quoted me a price of $50, but failed to mention it was actually $50 per hour so the total bill was $200 instead of the $50 I expected.
  • Restaurant quoted me a price of $100, but failed to mention it was actually $100 per 100g, so the total bill was $500 instead of the $100 I expected).

(Unfortunately the above quotes were all done verbally and I have no written record, except the final bill issued by the business.)

Can I simply refuse to pay and walk away? (And let the business make a police report/sue me if they want to?) Or are there better/wiser options?

(I'm looking specifically at Singapore, but answers about other jurisdictions welcome.)

  • 3
    I don't think either of your examples would qualify as overcharging. If the cleaner gives you a written quote for 50$ and then asks for 100$ after doing the cleaning you can and should refuse to pay 100$. But an oral quote which you misunderstood, no chance.
    – quarague
    Sep 20, 2023 at 6:04
  • Typo in "the total bill was $500 instead of the $500 I expected"?
    – brhans
    Sep 20, 2023 at 12:50
  • 1
    @brhans thx fixed
    – user103496
    Sep 20, 2023 at 14:24
  • I hardly think that a misunderstanding is "fraud". You'd likely have to prove a deliberate intent to deceive, not just a misunderstanding regarding units. If the prevailing market price is "per hour" or "per gram", then they were following common business practices.
    – abelenky
    Sep 20, 2023 at 14:51

1 Answer 1



What you are describing is a contractural dispute. And this dispute isn’t about whether you should pay, it’s about how much you should pay.

The correct legal thing to do is pay the amount that is not in dispute ($50 or $100 respectively) and work with the other party to resolve the dispute. You can negotiate any mutually satisfactory outcome - from you paying no more to you paying everything they ask to anything in between. If your contract has a dispute resolution clause then you are obliged to follow that.

If you can’t resolve your dispute then the person who is unhappy with the status quo (the vendor in these cases) can take legal action. This might be a lawsuit in an appropriate court - a small claims court for sums like this. In some industries, there may be an administrative tribunal which deals with small disputes.

Contract disputes are not a matter for the police. Theft, which is what’s going on if you don’t pay anything, is.

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