Are verbal quotes for the price of a service performed legally binding?

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Are verbal quotes for the price of a service performed legally binding?

I was verbally quoted me a price for a service. I then received a bill for much more than that price. I am refusing to pay more than quoted amount. The provider of the service is now suing for the amount that he billed for, even though the verbal agreement before the work was performed was a significantly lower price. Additional information: We went the service provider a check with “Final Payment” on it (for the quoted amount), the check cashed but when viewed on-line the words” Final Payment” were crossed out (this was done by the service provider – not us). Not sure how that plays into it. How will this be viewed in court?

Asked on April 29, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) First, it is a common myth that writing "final payment" on a check has legal effect. It doesn't, not when you legitimately owe more than the amount of the check; you do not have a right to change what you owe or deny the other party money it is entitled to by simply writing "final payment." Doing so has no effect.

2) An oral or verbal agreement to do the work for a certain amount is enforceale. An oral or verbal proposal can give rise to an enforceable agreement if it is presented as an offer to do the work for that amount, which offer the other party then accepts. On the other hand, the proposal could simply be an estimate for planning purposes, w/out binding effect, and the agreement could be that the work will be done and the party billed the actual cost, notwithstanding the proposal or estimate. It depends on the terms of the proposal and agreement, which, of course, can be difficult to prove without anything in writing if the two parties disagree as to the terms.


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