Am I required to pay an invoice for services that were incurred through a misunderstanding?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Am I required to pay an invoice for services that were incurred through a misunderstanding?

Charges were incurred through the fault of the
vendor for 70. At best, it was a
misunderstanding. I agreed to pay for a portion
of it, but they insisted that the 70 be on the
invoice. So I short paid the invoice. They have
since sent me a number of emails and calls
about the short paid invoice. Now theyre
threatening a Better Business Bureau report
and will start applying interest to the 70 on
September 1st. Do I have any recourse here?

Asked on August 30, 2019 under Business Law, South Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Did you get and retain the benefit of the services? And did you have any chance to stop the services from being provided, or did you accept them? If you accepted services and received the benefit of them, then you would owe the money for them under the theory of "unjust enrichment": people or businesses are not allowed to accept and retain goods or services which they know were only provided for compensation without actually paying for them.
If you had no chance to prevent them from providing the services, then you did no thing wrong and legally are not obligated to pay: others cannot make you pay them by unilaterally doing things without your knowledge. It's only when you could have refused the services but did not, therefore consenting to them and accepting them, that you have to pay.
If may well be the case that you are not legally obligated to pay, if you only became aware of the services after they were already incurred and could not as a practical matter then return them. 
But even if not legally obligated to pay, is it worth having to deal with negative reviews  or reports, or possibly getting involved in litigation (e.g. if you have to bring a legal action against them to make them withdraw any negative reports or statements) over $70? Or, since you already partially paid the invoice, for less than $70? Sometimes, even when you are in the right, the wise thing to do is to pay.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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