Are you obligated to pay a restocking fee for a cancelled order if you were not informed about the fee when you made the order?

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Are you obligated to pay a restocking fee for a cancelled order if you were not informed about the fee when you made the order?

We verbally ordered (over the phone) a plumbing product (a water pump) that we thought we needed from a store. They neglected to mention their restocking fee for cancelled orders. A few days later we cancelled the order when we realised that it was not the right pump. At that point we were informed of the restocking fee for cancelled orders (even though we had not yet made a purchase). Are we obligated to pay a restocking fee that we weren’t made aware of and we haven’t even made a purchase?

Asked on September 2, 2011 under General Practice, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you placed a verbal or oral order to the store that they acquire, or pull from inventory, etc., a certain item, then the fact that you did not yet purchase the item does not matter--in reasonable reliance on your representation that you needed a certain part, they took action; that reasonable reliance on your representation makes you liable for the reasonable costs of their action--which could include restocking fee. Thus, because they took action on your representation, they may recover their reasonble costs or losses, even  if they had not disclosed that previously. They may not, however, unless the fee was previously disclosed and agreed to, recover an unreasonable or excessive amount; that would require contractual agreement.


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