Can a seller assess storage feesfor an item afterhe has been paid for it and he is the reason that pick-up has been delayed?

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Can a seller assess storage feesfor an item afterhe has been paid for it and he is the reason that pick-up has been delayed?

I purchased a hot tub from a private seller in several weeks ago. Since then, he has made it very difficult to arrange for transporation/delivery. Now he states that I must pick it up by this Friday and pay $2K in storage fees or I “default” on the purchase. All of this seems ludicrous because he has been the obstacle all along. At this point, I would prefer just to get my money back then to continue dealing with this unreasonable person. Is there a statute regarding storage fees? He seems to believe it is his “right” and is referencing something about a legal code.

Asked on April 18, 2011 under Business Law, West Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There is no "right" to charge storage fees. If the terms of sale of the item provided for storage fees in the event of non-delivery or interest for late pick up and payment, etc., then those could be charged per the agreement or terms. Or if you had acted badly in some way (intentionally not picked up the tub to make the seller store it for you for free), the seller *might* be able to sue you to recovoer those costs--but he'd have to take legal action to do so and establish his right to them, were they not in the contract or agreement of sale.

Furthermore, even when someone has grounds to charge storage fee, unless they were set by agreement, they must be reasonable, and $2k for a few weeks is not reasonable. Also, unless a contract provided for "default" (or something similar) in the event of nonpayment, the seller could not make you default on fees, though he could later seek them. Finally, no one may seek reimbursement or compensation for costs incurred by his own actions, such as by not cooperatinng on the pick up or scheduling.


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