Waxhaw, NC asked in Consumer Law and Business Law for North Carolina

Q: Is this legal?

I recently hired a small cleaning service to deep clean my home and paid a $213 deposit. No contract was signed. The Monday prior to my Thursday appointment my family tested positive for covid. I contacted the business immediately. The owner has said that since she can’t find another appointment to fill my spot my deposit is nonrefundable and nontransferable to a later date and is also unwilling to clean the house on our original due to us having covid (understandably). Is this legal?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Lynn Ellen Coleman
Lynn Ellen Coleman
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: Is it illegal as in the cleaning service can be charged with a crime? No. It's a dispute over the terms of a verbal contract. You say you were never told the deposit was non refundable. They say you were. With nothing in writing, this is a "he said, she said" situation with no absolutely correct answer. If they have a web site, social media page, or other advertisement which either mentions this or fails to mention this, that's some additional evidence for one side or the other. Keep trying to work something out. It's not illegal for a service business to require a deposit which is not refundable if a service appointment is cancelled. There are no COVID consumer protection laws here which would make this illegal. Is it unreasonable? Depends upon your perspective. One would think that once it has been several weeks since your family contracted COVID, the business would be willing to perform the service. However, there is nothing "illegal" if they refuse. Court costs for small claims are around $190-230, so is this worth fighting over in court? Even if you win a judgment, you may never collect.

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