What are my rights if a tree care company did work without an agreement and now demands money for work done?

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What are my rights if a tree care company did work without an agreement and now demands money for work done?

A year ago 2017 I contacted a tree care company to come inspect my ash trees

for ash-borer beetles. This tree care company was recommended by the city i

live in. They did inspect my trees and called me on the phone with an quote. I

asked if my trees was infected, which they replied ‘No’. i denied treatment and

they asked if they need to treat my trees the following year, which I replied

Asked on June 21, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Legally, if you did not authorize the work, you are not liable or responsible for the cost: person A cannot do work on person B's property without B's authorization or consent and force B to pay; rather, A effectively donated their services to B.
But courts are not mind-readers or psychic: they don't know what actually happened, but only know what the two sides in a lawsuit tell/show them. If the tree company (or their collectons agency) sues for the money, they will presumably testify that you or your wife did authorize the work; you and your wife will presumably testify that you did not; the court will decide who is more likely telling the truth. Generally, businesses do not do work without a customer ordering or authorizing it; it would be easy for a court to believe them, that you did agree to the treatment. (For example: your wife could have told them to simply go away if she wanted no work done; but since she allowed them to "look at" the trees, a court could conclude she authorized or possibly even asked them to do the work.)
Therefore, while it's not certain they'd win, unless you have some written documentation (e.g. emails, texts) showing that you did not authorize the work, there is a reasonable chance you'd lose and have to pay. Given that, and given that you did apparently get the value of the treatment (you are not disputing that it was done), you may wish to pay them  with the discount and over time, to avoid litigation that you could easily end up losing.


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