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Is a verbal agreement legally binding in the state of Wisconsin?

Milwaukee, WI |

I was contacted via telephone regarding a magazine offer which locked me in for 5 years. I was given an option over the telephone that I would be able to cancel prior to receiving any of the magazines. I received a letter stating the terms for the 5 years and the total price. I did not agree to those terms so I called to cancel. The answer I received was a simple "No. You cannot cancel." I then talked to a supervisor who also stated that I was not able to cancel because I agreed to paying for 5 years. I sent a partial payment (against my better judgement) with a letter stating I wanted to cancel any further services. Am I obligated to pay this third party company for the full amount they are askingr?

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Attorney answers 2


I do not know. What was your agreement? It sounds like you had the right to cancel. But they are going to dispute this. In the absence of a written agreement, it is your word against theirs. On the other hand, you may be able to report them to the Better Business Bureau or the State Attorney General. If there are other problems/complaints against this company, they may not want to push this. You can always consult a lawyer, but there is not that much money at stake, here. You might just refuse to pay them anything more and see if they come after you. If they do, you can let the judge decide.

Or you might take the bull by the horns and sue THEM in small claims court, for the return of your payment.

I guess you should do a cost benefit analysis and see if it is worth your time to mess with it. You might just decide it is a (hopefully not too) costly lesson, and move on.

James Frederick

*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.


Verbal agreements are generally binding in Wisconsin. However, certain contracts MUST be in writing to be enforceable under the statute of frauds. Contracts that cannot be performed within one year must be in writing and signed by the party against whom enforcement is sought (i.e. you). In this situation, a 5 year subscription cannot be performed within one year, but the payments arguably can. Your partial payment further complicates matters.

I would suggest reporting the company to the Better Business Bureau.

Good luck.

This is not intended as legal advice. It is only provided for educational purposes and cannot be relied upon as legal advice. Further, no attorney client relationship is or has been formed by answering this question.

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