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Question: A man asked me to do a job. He now wants to pay me less than my invoice based on another contractor’s estimate. We had no written contract. Is there a law that says in the absence of a written contract, the customer must pay the previously agreed upon estimate?
Answer: Verbal contracts in Wisconsin are typically enforceable. If the man asked you to do a job for X, and you agreed by performing the job, that is a contract. It’s an verbal contract – rather than written. If you performed per the agreed upon terms, now he must also. Just because someone else quoted something different, does not change his obligations under the verbal contract.
There are exceptions to a verbal contract being enforceable. Those exceptions are barred by the “Statute of Frauds”. For example, in Wisconsin, The Statute of Frauds does bars a verbal contract when the payor reasonably believed that payee could not pay back within one year’s time, it is a contract to create an interest in real estate, it is a contract in contemplation of marriage, it is a contract for a sale of goods over $5000, or a contract made to answer for another’s debts. See Wis. St. § 241.02, 706.001. If none of those apply, the verbal contract is enforceable. Hence, this is not barred, and is fully enforceable.
Also, to any extent that you enriched the party by him not fully paying, you can ask for further damages under the theory of “unjust enrichment”. See BILHARZ v. FIRST INTERSTATE BANK OF WISCONSIN, et al., 98 F.3d 985 (1996).