As a dressmaker, what are my rights regarding a non-refundable deposit?

UPDATED: May 29, 2014

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As a dressmaker, what are my rights regarding a non-refundable deposit?

I am in an agreement with a lady that had me make a dress for her. We both signed a contract we made that all payments are non-refundable. The original design has been changed a little along the way. I turned the dress over to her that she had fitted that day worn for a few minutes and everything was fine. She loved it and even asked for me to make her a cloak that goes with it. However, the next day she sent me a message and wanted a refund; she has problems with the dress but it is nothing that I cannot fix. I have bent over backwards give her what she wants however, she will not negotiate with me. What can I do?

Asked on May 29, 2014 under Business Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you complied with your obligations, then you do not need to refund the deposit--especially in light of an agreement stating that all payments are non-refundable. Unless provided otherwise, deposits are generally only refundable if the business cannot or does not  honor its obligations. You can also charge her for any additional amounts due from her under the agreement (if any) and, if necessary, sue her (such as in small claims court) to recover those amounts.

The above said, if she tries instead to sue you to recover the payments made, while (from what you write), you would seem to be likely to win in court, it may be worthwhile, if it comes to that, to offer to return some or even all (depending on how much it is) of the money to avoid the time, distraction, etc. of a lawsuit.

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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