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is the cofounder of LessAccounting, loves his family more than breathing and builds weird lamps for fun.

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How To Dispute A Bill

Oh no, you have a bill that you think is wrong...now what?

how to dispute a bill

What would you do if you got a bill much higher than you were expecting? Lets say you needed an email opt in added to your site. You found a developer who said he could take care of it for $500. After all was said and done you received an invoice for $5000 instead of the agreed upon $500.

What do you do?

Clear communication.

First check if it was a mistake. This could solve the problem. Maybe after installing the opt in he added an extra zero to the invoice by mistake. It’s not at all unlikely. It would be a good idea to simply ask him about it before you take any drastic action. For example hire an attorney to send him a legal notice that you are protesting the price, just to get a call from him explaining it was a mistake and the bill is in fact the original $500.

If not a mistake ask for clarification. Why did you get billed so much more than expected?

Ask for an itemized breakdown of what services where performed. For example $5000 for web design could be

  • Design - $1400
  • Programing - $1600
  • Responsive site - $2000

What happens if you refuse to pay for a service?

Paying under protest.

In another example you take in your laptop for some repairs. You depend on your laptop and can’t wait days, weeks, or even months to settle the issue to get it back. What do you do?

You can pay under protest. If they are holding something of yours hostage until they receive payment in full, make it clear, in writing that you are paying under protest and will be disputing the amount at a later time.

These tips will certainly help you out if you ever find yourself caught in this situation, but why get tangled up in the situation at all?

Stop the madness before it ever begins.

What if you could have avoided the whole thing? It’s never a bad idea to ask for a written proposal. That way everything would be laid out in black and white. If the proposal quoted 5 hours of work time at $35 an hour, you are very unlikely to get a final bill for 16 hours at $54 an hour.

Establishing good communication up front is also a good idea. If you were quoted five hours but ran into problems that resulted in it taking 15, having established clear communication guidelines, he could have notified you of the problem and you could have approved or disapproved the extra time.

There is an old saying that goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

This statement has never been truer than when hiring help.

Borrowing from another great saying will help us wrap this up. Get your ducks in a row and you will protect yourself down the road from things going terribly wrong.

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