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You can collect from others, for an honest mistake.

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by mdvaden, Jan 1, 2007.

  1. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,944

    I forget what the legal term for this is, but I learned about it in a business law class I took in college.

    The idea is that nobody recieves benefits for free.

    Anyway, if there is an iron-clad "honest to God" mistake made, where you supplied work or material to the wrong person, that person may have to pay you.

    There are factors like "is it reasonable that it happened that way", etc..

    For example, suppose someone asked you to remove a $5000 pile or yard debris, and you mailed the contract back and forth - the papers are signed. But maybe you never went to the yard, or maybe an employee was sent.

    Suppose the yard next door also had an equivilent junk pile justly worth the same $5000 removal.

    Suppose both homes had their houses numbered with new numbers, but the number person swapped the house numbers. Suppose the houses were similar styles. Suppose nobody was home.

    That's hypothetical, but that's getting into the nature of this angle of law.

    If the wrong brush pile was removed - and nobody was home - then somebody will probably have to pay.

    Part of this kind of thing actually occuring, requires that somebody had to RECEIVE A BENEFIT. They had to receive something or some work absolutely worth the cost.

    Wish I could remember the legal name. But anyway, that's the deal.

    If someone has time for one of these short business law courses at a community college, you may find it worthwhile even if you only use 1 percent of what you learned.
  2. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,496

    There a new guy on here who is an actual attorney...Maybe we can ask him...I've never heard of such a thing, and as having a degree in Criminal Justice, I have had several courses in civil law. However, I believe that if the people knew the work was being one, and did not make any attempt to to stop it - in the belief that they may receive the work for free, then perhaps something like this DOES exist. I do know that if the people are unaware that this service is being performed, then hey cannot be held accountable. It is like if we go in and mow the wrong yard, we cannot charge them. The same goes for sale and delivery of goods. If Circuit City delivered a plasma tv to your house, and the drivers found out an hour later that it was not yours by wrong address, that would not entitle you to keep it.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    I could see...possibly...in the case of a mis-numbered house, or as Runner said if the 'wrong' customer was home and knew the work was being done.

    I also think it would be like pulling teeth to ever get paid...
  4. Lawntime Mowers

    Lawntime Mowers LawnSite Member
    from KC MO
    Posts: 219

    What if they sue the person that made the mistake unless they bring back the pile of junk that was clearly stolen from their private property. Goes both ways
  5. LawnTamer

    LawnTamer LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,988

    I did the wrong lawn once. It was a fert and squirt application. I just left a note that I had done it, so they wouldn't do it again and burn it, and left my card. Never heard from them again- too bad, I took that lawn from 'shame of the neighborhood' to one of the nicest on the street with that app.
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    While I agree, it really boils down to something that was 100% NOT your mistake and may further delve into where a customer tried to pull a fast one.

    Because when that happens (customer trying to get funny on me) you BET they pay!
    But otoh, if I did the wrong lawn and I fouled up and it's totally my bad (complete brainlessness = my bad lol), better luck next time but I take the hit.
    In the case where someone switched the numbers, I dunno man... Good luck collecting, thou I do agree that someone still should pay.

    Fair is fair.
  7. mattfromNY

    mattfromNY LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,581

    I can see where someone has entirely too much time on their hands to be thinking this stuff up. If You made a mistake and worked at my house and thought you'd be billing me, GOOD LUCK! I'd say thanks and smile, of course, because I'd sure appreciate it, let me know when you'll be in the area, and what house number you'll be at. I can switch my house numbers to accommodate some work! Just kidding. Doesn't it seem a little ridiculous to even try to bill someone for YOUR mistake!?!
  8. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,944

    The issue hinges on a verifiable benefit.

    Not a non-verifiable loss of junk.

    If a rusty fender was removed that was worth a lot as antique value, then no benefit was recieved. So that is not a two way issue. That would not be applicable.

    It's a billing matter all in itself if it actually qualifies as a true benefit and a billing matter - all hinging on the reciept of a benefit.
  9. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,944

    But if the court ordered you to pay the bill, you would be talking to the judge.

    Anyway, it's not a common thing to occur.

    And it may not be the contractors mistake. It can be the mistake of the homeowner, the next door neighbor.

    You capitalized "YOUR" but didn't capitalize or write "OTHERS".

    Personally, I'd agree: I'd hate to get stuck with a bill for a benefit I didn't request.

    Now that I wrote that sentence, I recalled one more thing from the class - the recipient of the benefit, must have needed the benefit. For example, accidentally replacing an "okay" roof with a new roof would not cut-it. But if their roof shingles were worn out, missing and peeling, with a leak or two, their house would qualify as needing a benefit, and that would change the legality.

    I have a feeling that these kinds of issues must occur when people are away from their homes, like on vacations or something.
  10. HOOLIE

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    Vaden...find the law you speak of!!!! So we can see what it is...nothing more annoying than "I heard of this, pretty sure it's true but I can't remember what it's called...."

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