Waste carter bill stands despite huge mark-up on quote

A rough estimate of $16,000 to shift land waste ends up costing $216,000

Waste carter bill stands despite huge mark-up on quote
A cartage firm has won its case despite a low quote


A customer has failed in court to get a 16,000 waste cartage estimate turned into a contract after the final bill came in just short of $216,000 and it refused to pay.

The District Court of Western Australia has ruled that the earth-moving company JW Cross’ rough quote to Parkridge Group for work using trucks and an excavator was no more than that, even though the it proved erroneous and was made by an employee inexperienced in that particular estimate.

In such a case, the lack of a written contract for the job and similar evidence from witnesses allowed for use of JW Cross’ machinery, or other machinery if that was needed, along with disposal costs to be charged "in accordance to its schedule of rates".

JW Cross had taken Parkridge to court over non-payment, while Parkridge defended itself on verbal contract grounds and claimed negligence on the part of its agent, MPM Development Consultants.

The alleged fixed quote verbal contract had been made to an MPM employee and had been made before an issued involving asbestos contamination had arisen and therefore added costs.

Though Parkridge argued that there was no proof of contamination, Judge Simon Stone rejected that on expert evidence during the case.

On whether the initial conversation was an estimate or a fixed quote, Stone’s finding begins with a statement of fact that legal experts warn can be central to such cases, depending on the circumstances: "There was no written estimate or quote for the removal and disposal of the stockpiles and the cost of doing so."

He found that the oral estimate of the cost to remove and dispose of the stockpiles did not include the tipping fees that would be incurred and that meant a fixed price or quotation to carry out the work had not been given.

On the claim for loss and damage, the judged ruled that Parkridge had in fact lost nothing.

"If $215,976.49 is what JW Cross took to remove and dispose of the stockpiles, with its usual and reasonable rates which were competitive with other competitors in the industry, then that is what ultimately Parkridge would have paid someone else to remove and dispose of the stockpiles," the judgement states.

Given this, there could be no negligence claim on MPM, despite the lack of a written contract that MPM’s employee should have sought, because it could not have gained the removal service for less.

The risks related to verbal contracts run on both sides, with lawyers warning that such agreements can be enforceable and that the lack of written contracts can make them hard to enforce of even prove.

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