Is there a guideline for a written letter of refuse-to-pay?

UPDATED: Jan 28, 2015

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Is there a guideline for a written letter of refuse-to-pay?

We received an invoice for $750 for services that we did not feel were worth the cost. There was no clear start of the “consulting” cost and we are refusing to submit payment. I have been searching around the web and can’t seem to find a proper template for a small business letter.

Asked on January 28, 2015 under Business Law, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

There is no template because situations vary so much. There is also not necessarily any right to refuse to pay because you feel the service was not worth the cost--people often are disappointed by what they buy, but have to pay anyway. The only real issues are:

1) Did they lie about the service, the rate, or some other signficant issue? If so, they may have committed fraud, which would provide grounds to not pay.

2) Did they violate the terms of a service agreement, proposal, price quote, etc, in which case they may have breached a contract, which could provide grounds to only pay what was in the contract.

3) Did they get the time that they provided services wrong (e.g. bill you for too much time), in which case, if you can prove the correct time, you'd have grounds to only pay for the accurate time.

Otherwise, in terms of a letter, simply clearly spell out your objection, and send the letter some way you can prove delivery (e.g. certified mail). Bear in mind that to avoid a possible legal fight, it's probably better to negotiate to pay something you can live with rather than refusing to pay anything at all.

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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