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Can I refuse to pay for a service?

This page tells you when you might want to refuse to pay for a service such as a repair or having something made for you and what could happen if you do.

For example, the work may have been done badly or not at all. It may have been done without your agreement or you may think you’ve been charged too much. The trader may be taking too long to start or finish the work.

You should always explain to the trader why you are refusing to pay for a service. You may want to write to the trader and you should keep a copy of the letter.

The trader is asking you to pay in advance

It may be that you’re happy to pay for a service but the trader is asking you to pay in advance and you don't want to pay until the work is done. You will need to negotiate with the trader. You may want to contact a trade association to find out what is normal practice in the trade. You may decide that it is reasonable to pay some money in advance, for example, to cover a trader's upfront costs, but to keep most payment back until the work is finished.

You only want to pay for part of a service

It may be that you want to pay for part of a service. For example, if the work has been done badly, you may want to only pay what you think the work is worth. You may also want to only pay what you think the work is worth if no price was agreed for the work and you think that the amount being charged is unreasonable. You should always negotiate with the trader if you do not want to pay the whole bill.

In some cases you may need an expert opinion to help you decide how much you should pay for a service. If the trader belongs to a trade association, you can also get advice from the association. The association may also have a dispute resolution scheme that you and the trader can use if you can't agree how much you should pay.

What happens if you refuse to pay for a service?

If you refuse to pay for a service or only pay part of a bill, it’s possible the trader may take you to court to claim what they think you owe them. If this happens, you may be able to counter-claim, for example, if you have had to pay extra to get another trader in to finish a job.

You should get advice if you are being taken to court.

Paying under protest

It may be that the trader has your goods. For example, they may have your car or electrical equipment that they have been repairing. The trader is likely to refuse to return the goods until you have paid the full bill. In order to get your goods back you may have to pay under protest and then claim the money back later, possibly by going to court. You should make it clear in writing that you are paying under protest.

Next steps

Citizens Advice

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