I used a site, ELocal to get quotes for electrical work needed for my business. I was contacted by 5 Electricians, who all agreed to provide free written estimates for the job to pass along to the landlord of the building. Ever Green Electric was one of the five companies that came out. After checking the circuit breaker I was told that there was a $135 service call charge I had to pay and that an estimate would be emailed to me. I asked why that was not disclosed prior to arriving and was told that it was to be charged because he had to take out his tools. I never agreed to or authorized any work and no other company asked me for a fee to cover a free estimate. I am now receiving emails and threats of liens by the company. How do I get this to stop without having to pay this fee?
I have a couple of suggestions. First, you may want to report the contractor to the local Better Business Bureau. I do not recall any of the television stations in our area having consumer help segments, but if there are any such resources, contact them.
From a legal vantage point, you arguably had a contract in which you invited Ever Green Electric to give you an estimate in consideration for your promise to consider offering them the work. There was no promise on your part to pay them. Sometimes one can recover without a contract on a theory of "quantum meruit," i.e., recovering for value given. However, here you received nothing of value.
I further suggest you write to advise them that (1) you invited them to give an estimate for the work, you never asked them to do anything, and your agreement was for a free estimate; and (2) if they do not stop harassing you you will explore your legal options.
I do not see a legal basis for them forcing you to pay, but it makes sense to end the harassment.
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