What are my rights if I’m trying to make arrangements with creditor but he keeps changing his mind?

Charged an obscene amount by emergency vets. Under duress, I was forced to sign a “high – low estimate” and paid several $K to start treatment. After 12 days it was made clear that if I couldn’t pay more it was the end. Final bill was an obscene almost 10K. They demanding immediate payment and bullied me into maxing out credit cards while my pet lay waiting on the euthanasia table. Hysterical, I had to sign a monthly agreement but had to stop paying because broke. I was never called and now process server lurks. I called vets to work it out but now they expect me to pay and be served. Why?

Asked on September 10, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, California


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The "why" is because you signed all those agreements for services and that gives them the ability to go after you for payment for services rendered.  It was a contract between you.  But it does sound like they had the upper hand and an unfair advantage given the situation with your dog. You were in a highly emotional state and subject to being "unduly influenced" in your decision making processes.  You should consider fighting them on this.  First, contact the State licensing bureau for veterinarians in California and file a complaint as to their behaviour and tactics (use the words "unethical").  Next, contact your state attorney general's office consumer fraud division and see if they will also take a complaint. The better business bureau as well. If you are sued you are going to have to answer and then I would raise what is known as affirmative defenses like fraud in the inducement; unfair business practices, etc., and move to set aside the contract as being "unconscionable."  Good luck.

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