Can a business charge a fee for an estimate after they decline the job?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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Can a business charge a fee for an estimate after they decline the job?

We approached a local shed building company for the possibility of installing a shed in our yard. They informed us that they charge $125 for a site visit in order to make an accurate estimate of costs and we agreed to it. After the visit, they informed us that they were not interested in the job, and they still want the estimate fee for “travel cost.” Odd situation – contract not fulfilled from my perspective.

Thanks for your help!

Asked on November 11, 2015 under Business Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

No, they cannot charge you the fee unless they actually gave you an estimate, which estimate you had the option of accepting (i.e. they can't give you an "estimate" which they have no intention of honoring). Otherwise, they are in breach of contract (did not honor their obligationt to provide an estmate) and so cannot recover the fee from you.

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