Bennett v. Hayes

125 Cal. Rptr. 825 (1975)

 

RULE:

An automobile repair dealer's failure to give his customer a written estimate prior to repair of the customer's automobile, as required by the Business and Professions Code, bars any recovery for work performed.

FACTS:

Hayes brought his car to Bennett’s automobile repair shop. Hayes agreed to pay $70 for the repair of one front brake, $100 for a radio, and $17 for lubrication. Although specific sums were mentioned, Bennett was unsure of the exact price of all the parts involved. Bennett failed to give Hayes a written estimate for this work. When Hayes came to pick up his car, Bennett informed him that the car’s rear brakes were not working, and it would cost him additional money to make those additional repairs. Hayes authorized Bennett to make the repair, at the extra cost of $200. Hayes was billed for $500. Bennett sued for breach of contract. The trial court ruled in favor of Hayes. Bennett appealed. The appellate court affirmed.

ISSUE:

Does an automobile repair dealer's failure to give his customer a written estimate prior to repair of the customer's automobile, as required by the Business and Professions Code, bar any recovery for work performed?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

Under the Business and Professions Code, if work is done in excess of the written estimate without the consent of the customer, the repairman may not charge for the additional work. A violation renders the repair contract unenforceable at law. The primary purpose of the code is to protect the purchaser by discouraging practices forbidden by law. Bennett could have complied with the code if he had given Hayes a written estimate for the amount that the repairs would cost. Since he did not do so, Hayes did not have to pay for the repairs.

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