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OT - Neighbour Requesting Payment AFTER Favour???

sunshinex's picture

So I'm curious about everyones thoughts here. We moved into our new neighborhood last year, and we have some really nice neighbors who we've spoken to a couple of times. They mentioned at the beginning of winter that they plowed the driveway for the old owner and can do the same for us. We said something along the lines of "oh that's ok, you don't have to do that! don't worry about it!" and they said "we have a tractor and it only takes a couple minutes" so we said thanks so much, that's very kind. 

Now we also have an apple tree that the old owner mentioned she (the neighbour) likes to pick apples from for baking. So we mentioned "hey, we heard you like picking the apples and we want you to know you can still do that anytime!" and that was that. They plowed our driveway anytime a major storm happened and we'd say hello, thanks again, etc. from the window. 

Fast forward to today... My neighbour called me over requesting payment. I said "what payment?" and he said "for all of the plowing last winter... I just wanted to remind you it's way overdue - 7 plows x $40 each" and I was surprised and said "I had no idea any payment was required..." and he said "the old owner didn't tell you about the cost?" 

So now I'm kind of at a loss for what to do. I mean, I don't have $300 laying around - if I did, I would've been able to buy a small plow, ya know? I'll of course find a way because I've never been the kind of person to not pay someone what I owe , but this doesn't feel very fair to me and I don't feel like I SHOULD "owe" a payment I never agreed to. 


SteppingOut_2020's picture

Sorry charlie but thats not how contracts work, even implied.  Unless a "meeting of the minds" was established prior to any work being completed, which has to include some mention of offer and acceptance then your neighbor is completely out of line and just now trying to take advantage of you.  Particularly when no other mention of payment being requested was relayed for a long period of time in which it sounds like this was.

I'd just tell the neighbor, sorry but any agreement that you had with the previous owner was between you and them and since you had not made any arrangements with me over price, terms or getting approval then you wont be paying.  If you want to try to salvage the relationship you can continue to thank them for what they have offered you but state that it was obviously a miscommunication and you are in no way legally responsible for this service and that you won't be neeing his services any further.

Merry's picture

It wasn't the old owner's responsibility. If your neighbor wanted to continue to provide the service for a fee, he should have been clear about the fee.

I think to be a good neighbor, I'd pay it if you could and tell him you'll take care of the driveway yourself in the future. If HE were a good neighbor, he'd tell you to forget about payment or at least offer to split it, but if you'd like him to continue plowing, it will be $40 per.


tog redux's picture

Nope. He has no contract, not even a verbal one.

Let him take it to small claims' court. He'll lose.

sunshinex's picture

I'm just a bit sad over it all. We were thrilled about having such kind neighbours. We bragged about it to friends and family. We planned on bringing over a giftbasket filled with wine and treats, but the pandemic happened so we never got around to it for safety reasons.

I also can't understand why they wouldn't mention payment sooner. They would have started plowing in december of last year and ended around march of this year... Plenty of chances to bring it up and make sure there was acknowledgement of a cost associated with it.  

tog redux's picture

I would tell him - look, I'm sorry. I thought you were doing it in a neighborly way, just as I gave you the apples, and I'm not willing to pay for it.

If he's still going to be a jerk or take you to court, so be it.

still learning's picture

There's always some expectation in return for a favor.  Now you know that you live next door to a sneaky fox...beware.  

Mommymode1985's picture

You were thrilled about kind neighbors but they aren't kind ... They're greedy. I bet MONEY that's how the last owner got suckered into it. Why else would he conveniently forget to mention price? You're being suckered ... Please don't be.

hereiam's picture

I've never been the kind of person to not pay someone what I owe 

Except, you don't owe it. The guy insisted on plowing your drive (I mean, you first said, "no") and never mentioned price or that he expected payment.

I would cut down that damn apple tree, too.

BethAnne's picture

I would draw up a contract charging $4 a pound for any apples picked. I mean, they are probably oragnic and they are local and super fresh.....

hereiam's picture

Agree with Floppy. So weird.

If I had a tractor and it only took a "couple of minutes" (and I practically insisted), I would be embarrassed to expect payment, especially after hearing that you had no idea that a fee was involved (because I didn't mention it).

sunshinex's picture


Weirdest part is, he started off the conversation asking if my husband was still working... I told him nope, it's just me working and my husband staying home with the kids. So he literally had verification that I am single-handedly supporting my family before requesting payment for what I believed was a favour. Even after I said "oh, I had no idea there was any payment required" he said something like "I'm not one to beg but I had to bring it up" 


hereiam's picture

Sorry, he should have brought it up when he offered. Very sneaky.

And asking, "the old owner didn't tell you about the cost?" doesn't cut it because he is the one who told you that he plowed the driveway for the previous owner. Yep, sneaky.

Thumper's picture

Was there ever a text about price? OR a note sent back and forth?

IF not, and if no written contract.  Tell him no...AND do not plow our drive way ever again.

Geeze---that take a lot of gall on his part. Shifty dude



HMSUKAUS's picture

Could you contact old owners and double check that they arnt taking the micky?

Id personally pay them and then refrain from going down that route again. Ive had relationships with bad neighbours before and it makes living there HELL on earth. I would want to avoid that at all costs. 

He could be right, it could be something the last owners paid for, pretty normal thing to do for cash. He may of assumed you knew, he could also be trying his luck. Id attempt to contact old owners and give neighbours the money then proceed to stay well away. 

sunshinex's picture

I'm thinking I'll pay it because on the off chance he genuinely thought I knew somehow, I can't stomach being in debt to someone and not paying it. But I'll tell him there's no way I can afford this going forward so please refrain from doing anything like that for us. 

The tricky part is, I want to tell them not to take my apples now LOL I don't want to be petty, but my 2 year old son LOVES his apple tree and gets so excited about it. She bakes a lot so she's not taking one here and there, it's more of a huge haul and I'd rather them not, and instead, keep the apples for my son if we're not mutually being neighbourly. 

SteppingOut_2020's picture

Why would you pay someone that you dont owe? Youre not in debt to him, he is out of line!  Especially during these periods where you are the only one working?? Hell no!  As someone else said, tell him to go pound sand...or if you want to be nice I posted my diplomatic response above.!  Stand up for yourself!

sunshinex's picture

It truly is the worst timing too. I just became self-employed last year, and while financially we're ok while I'm the only one working, it takes me working 10-11 hours a day to keep everything paid. I'm frustrated because I watched him take literally 2 minutes at most each time he plowed. I had nowhere to go, the plowing was truly no value whatsoever to me... our driveway is short, I have nowhere to go urgently every day, and my husband is home - he could have shoveled. 

SteppingOut_2020's picture

Dear, you dont have to explain to us, you have to explain it to yourself to get you to understand that you are under no obligation to pay this man.  This is not some creditor that you are in debt to that will always hang over your head, that will come after you years from now, accrue interest, etc.

The only downside to standing up for yourself is that you lose a good relationship with a neighbor, but Im sure you have others!  LOL and you can try to do whatever it takes, within reason to smooth this over without taking money out of your own household that you need to pay someone that you dont owe.

HMSUKAUS's picture

This is me: 
Apples cost what 1-2$ per kilo. What would it of cost for your drive to be ploughed if youd arranged someone to do it? Is his charge realistic or expensive.
Hes assumed you knew about the paying for driveway plough service. maybe they got free apples because he did it soooo much cheaper than someone else. Youve assumed its free. Lots of assuming.

If it was me in your position, Id go round on the back foot. Start with explaining that you didnt know about the charge for his service, you assumed it was a neighbourly thing and thats why you would take the apples from the tree, since learning about this charge - you cant really afford it, but you value your relationship and will honour that payment. But moving forward you think its best the apples for cheap ploughing deal ends because you need all the apples your tree produces and you arnt in a position to pay for that service. But thank him and keep it pleasant. 

Maybe im a soft arse, but some things arent worth fighting over. 

sunshinex's picture

I totally don't want to fight over it, but I genuinely can't afford to pay without causing some serious issues to our own personal budget too. If I arranged for someone to do this, it would likely be fairly cheap given I'm in the province with the lowest minimum wage. I can't imagine anyone paying $40 for a 2 minute driveway plow here with the majority making $11.50 per hour lol 

HMSUKAUS's picture

Im sure itll all be fine, just be honest and hope for the best. 
If it gets toxic, it gets toxic and youll deal with it. 

Best of luck.

hereiam's picture

If he genuinely thought you knew that he expected payment, he would not have pushed it when you said, "oh that's ok, you don't have to do that! don't worry about it!"  "You don't have to do that", implies that you had no idea there was a cost. Nobody says that when paying for a service.

For him to then say, "we have a tractor and it only takes a couple minutes" and NEVER mentioning a fee? No.

I know you don't want to have a battle with neighbors but you also don't want them thinking that they can continue to take advantage. What happens next winter when he "forgets" that you don't want him plowing your driveway and expects you to pay up? Get this settled, now.

Explain that since he never mentioned a price, you thought he was offering as a favor. So sorry, but no, had you been told there was a fee, you would not have agreed.

In fact, you did turn it down to begin with. He insisted, that's on him.


Thumper's picture

I would not pay them. They offered to be neighborly. We offer to mow our neighbors grass once and awhile. I would never knock on their door and ask for payment.


DPW's picture

I had a neighbour who used to plow my driveway too. The difference is he never made me pay after the fact, without a verbal agreement. I still would buy them a thank you gift at the end of each season but I would have been floored if he expected payment especially since I never asked him to do it. Tell him to pound sand and stop touching your apples Wink

Ursula's picture

I really wouldn't pay that.  It would be one thing if he had done it once and asked for payment.  But to have done it six more times after not recieving payment for the first time is ridiculous.  There was no contract and you even told him no, you would just do it yourself.  He insisted so you accepted thinking this was a neighborly favor.  

I'd ask them to stop picking the apples too.  

ndc's picture

$40 for "a couple of minutes" (as he described it) sounds excessive. Being a nonconfrontational person, I'd probably pay it, over time if necessary, but I wouldn't be inclined to be all that neighborly to this guy again.  But I don't think you actually owe him that amount.

still learning's picture

As another poster said, neighbor wars are no fun and can get nasty fast. It may be worth the $300 or a discounted amount due to their several apple hauls, just to preempt future drama.  Let's just say this was an unoffical contract, well now it's over! Let Mr. Neighborly know that you'll make payments (or preferrably pay in full to be done with him) and that his services will no longer be needed since you will be "paying" your husband to do it.  If you do pay him make sure it's with check and you have a paper trail. Also make sure you write a receipt specifying "7 driveway plows = $300 - $10 (or whatever the going rate is) per organic apple  ____bushels = $____.and be sure to write on the bottom PAID IN FULL - NO FURTHER SERVICES OF ANY KIND REQUESTED. Be extremely blunt and specific, next thing you know he's going to charge you for lightening the branches of the apple tree.  Make copies of all transactions with him.  Your DH and you should do this together and approach him as a united front.  

Not sure the layout of your property to theirs but is there a way you can fence off the apple tree?  Even a janky fence made out of stakes and orange contractor fencing would work.  For fun add a NO TRESPASSING sign Lol Great project for out of work DH!  If they ask, tell them it's to keep the deer out and also that you're untilizing ALL of the apples now.

Your neighbor is like those guys in New York who clean your windshield when you didn't ask them to and then demand payment,  or he is terrible at communication. Either way, end this "business" relationship in a professional way and set firm boundaries with them. 

Aunt Agatha's picture

Ok maybe he miscommunicated over the plowing (being more than generous here - I think he's a scam artist.)

But then to multiple times take enough apples for cooking and dishonestly acting like that's not a gift in kind?  I'd be furious. 

Figure out the going rate for organic heirloom apples in your area and absolutely take that off your bill.  Then nothing but BIFF any time you see those scam artist neighbors.


Dogmom1321's picture

Nothing was ever in writing, so you are not legally responsible for any of that. 

I would make it clear, that you did not receive an estimate or even an invoice after the fact. In the future, let them know you will take care of it yourself. That way they are not expecting money. Hoping this helps with the miscommunication. 

susanm's picture

Here is another possibility.  It is the wife who likes the apples, right?  And the husband who did the plowing and is suddenly coming around with his hand out?  Is it possible that the wife has no idea what he is doing and is not going to be happy in the slightest at her apple supply being cut off?  I would approach the wife and "reluctantly" open a discussion regarding the price for future apple access since her husband "suddenly sprung this bill on you and you had no idea that this was a business arrangement."  If he is running game on you, which is very likely because why else would someone wait until May to collect on work done months earlier, then you will find out by her reaction.  It is possible that she will be as concerned about maintaining good neighbor relations as you are and will shut the issue down for you.  

Rags's picture

You neither contracted nor agreed to his services.  The onus is on him to establish the terms of his services.  Inform him that the agreement was he would plow and you would allow them access to the apples from your tree.

Inform him that next year he should make the terms of his services clear.

Three houses ago we had a neighbor that had a lawn care service.  We contracted with him.  They did a great job.  Had he used the same wording in conversation with me that your plow neighbor used with you, I would have not paid him a dime.

Buyer beware applies to both sides of a business transaction.

Just tell him that the cost of the apples he will take from your tree is $280 and call it even.

Go buy your own plow before next winter.  If you still are okay with them taking apples then next year let them know that they are welcome to them at no cost.  Make that a year by year thing based on their behavior.  If they are reasonable, they can have apples if the call before picking.  If not, no apples.

Ispofacto's picture

$40 seems kinda steep for something that only takes "a couple of minutes".

They don't seem manipulative tho, just dumb.

I'd pay it to keep the peace and do it yourself from now on.


DHsfamilyfromhell's picture

He should have made it clear about payment before doing it. If that were me I would pay, but I would also make it clear that I would be doing my own from now on.