What happens if you get a fuel oil delivery without your permission?

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What happens if you get a fuel oil delivery without your permission?

I called a fuel oil company asking them to call me back. They never did. One day I come home and there’s a note saying they’ve filled my tank and I owe them money. I never asked for a delivery only a call back. Do I still owe them? What if I made a partial payment after a threat of being sued? Do I still owe the rest?

Asked on May 2, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Legally, if you did not agree to the delivery, you are not liable for it; someone cannot simply, without permission, deliver anything to your home and make you pay for it. The legal issue is whether you did in fact authorize, agree to, request, etc. the delivery.

Practically, if they company claims that you placed an order, they could try to sue you (if you don't pay an amount they find acceptable); the issue then will be whether, if they do go ahead and sue you, can they prove you placed the order or authorized the shipment.

If you have already paid some of the money, and if the oil is useful to you (i.e. you have  oil heat), and if the oil is close to the price you would have paid for oil from other sources, the best option may be to simply pay them the rest--you've gotten the benefit of the oil and paying will save you the time, cost, and effort of fighting with them, including potentially being sued.


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