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Dispute on quoted amt. to paint the Basement


We agreed with the painter on 800 to plaster a little and paint the basement. We prepared the money and when he came back to complete job, he said $900. What to do? Nothing in writing is a mistake.



What does he say in regard to the fact that you agreed to a price of $800, does he agree to that or does he say that you made up a price of $900? Depending on what he says we will know how to proceed forward. If he says that you made up $900, then if there is any slight chance that he is right, you are stuck, because if you don’t pay him his full wage it is five deorayso lavin, and you would have to be machmir.

Best wishes


אהבת חסד פ”י -י”ג ובנתיב החסד אות כ”ו בהערה “על פי רוב, יצטרך האדם למאות פעולות בכל שנה, ומצוי מאוד שאחר הפעולה יש ויכוח בין האומן לבעל הבית בענין תשלום השכר, וכשיפרדו – כל אחד חושב בנפשו שהוא נגזל מהשני, אלא שאינו רוצה לריב עמו, אבל אינו מוחל בלב שלם. ולפעמים יש ג”כ מריבה ביניהם מחמת זה. ומדינא – הוא כמנהג המדינה לפי המקום והזמן, ואם יפחות לו מזה אפילו פרוטה אחת – יקרא עבור זה מן התורה בשם “גזלן ועושק שכר שכיר”. וכן יש בזה גם חילול השם כידוע. ומי יכול לדעת את מנהג המדינה בכל פעולה ופעולה לפי ענינה? ואם ירצה לצאת ידי חובה בלי פקפוק – יצטרך לתת לבעל המלאכה כפי מה שיתבע, ודבר זה ג”כ קשה מאד. לפיכך הרוצה לצאת ידי שמים, יסכם עם הפועל בתחילה את שכרו”.

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  1. With all due respect to the Rabbanim of the Beis Hora’a, if someone does believe that they made up $800 and the painter claims $900, they are not Over on 5 Lavin. It’s only once it is incumbent on them to pay they will be Over.
    There is no Inyan to be “Machmir” and pay up whatever someone claims from you.

    1. If it is clear, and there is no safek then there is no question. However often people think one thing and they don’t realize that there is another side to the story then according to what the Chafetz Chaim writes, one has to be machmir.

      1. Wow! I did not though that. Thank you for teaching me something new.

        On the other hand, the questioner asked, “We agreed with the painter on 800 to plaster a little and paint the basement.” Seems like he is pretty certain…

  2. I believe that when the Chafetz Chaim says that one needs to be machmir, that is referring to cases where there was no price made up beforehand, and when the work is completed, the worker demands a price that is higher than the person expected to be charged.

    In that case, the Chafetz Chaim says, that if the person doesn’t pay the amount that the person demands/expected to be paid, then he risks transgressing several aveiros.

    The Chafetz Chaim concludes, that the solution is to to make up the price before the work commences:לפיכך הרוצה לצאת ידי שמים, יסכם עם הפועל בתחילה את שכר.

    This is exactly what the homeowner claims that he did. He followed the Chafetz Chaim’s advice, and before the work was done, agreed to a  price of $800.

    He is absolutely sure of it.

    The only problem is that the worker denies having agreed to such a price.

    However, the homeowner isn’t “stuck”. 

    If there is a disagreement as to what was agreed upon, and there is nothing in writing, the homeowner can offer to pay the amount that he believes was agreed upon.

    If the worker isn’t happy, then he can take the homeowner to a Beis Din, where they would present their arguments, and the homeowner will pay whatever Beis Din orders him to pay.

    1. If indeed he is 100% sure that this is the price that they made up then this is exactly what the Chofetz Chaim is writing, if not then he is in trouble. this is exactly what was meant in my answer.

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