Is a verbal cost quote from a contractor vs. a written cost quote binding by law?

UPDATED: Sep 17, 2011

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Is a verbal cost quote from a contractor vs. a written cost quote binding by law?

I hired a design firm to make drapes, bed headboard, etc. The owner of the company gave me a verbal total cost quote at the beginning of the job. We both agreed on the total cost of the project (verbally). I paid a deposit and work began. I expected a written contract to be sent to me based on our verbal total cost agreement, however, the owner never sent a written contract despite 12 requests. The job is completed now and a bill was issued that is a lot more than we verbally agreed to. Owner says it’s because she made mistake in original quote. Legally, do I have to pay the extra cost?

Asked on September 17, 2011 under Business Law, Virginia


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Contract law recognizes verbal contracts as well as written contracts. Written contracts are really just easier to prove and that may be where the down fall is here.  What is going to happen is that she is not going to turn over the products made and then she is going to sue you for the money owned. At that point you can countersue for the products and services and to enforce the terms of the contract as you see fit.  Do you have ANYTHING other than your word to show that there was an agreed upon price?  A receipt for the deposit that says what the balance will be?  Or what percentage of deposit you put down (sometimes if the estimate states that a 50% deposit is required you have some numbers present for the court to work with).  Her credibility and your credibility will be at issue here.  And maybe you should see if there have been complaints about her doing this before.  Good luck to you.

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