Who has to pay a fuel bill mistake by the driver?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Who has to pay a fuel bill mistake by the driver?

I had fuel oil delivered today, I get heat assistance and specified I only wanted the amount of fuel that the assistance paid for, the driver filled my tanks then told me sorry he didn’t see the note and now I owe $309 for the extra fuel. I should also say this is my first time dealing with this company but I’ve heard similar storys from neighbors and relatives about the same company. So I believe that I shouldn’t have to pay for what was obviously there fault, but can they legally come after me for the money?

Asked on January 11, 2017 under Business Law, New York


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You can't keep the oil without paying for it or at least allowing the oil company to pump the excess oil out. The reason is that if you keep something wrongfully delivered to you, you have accepted it. To allow you to keep it without paying for it would constitute something the law calls "unjust enrichment". Something that the laws disfavors. That having been said, so along as you offer them the opportunity to reclaim their oil but they decline to do so and try to sue you for the money it claims that you owe, you could raise as a defense that the extra oil placed in your tank was made in error and you gave the company the opportunity to correct the error but it failed to do so. Accordingly, you should put your offer to let them reclaim the surplus oil in writing and send it return receipt requested.

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