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That’s Not How Quotes Work

, , , , | Working | November 20, 2020

I help to organize a book club. During one of our bigger meetings, we decide to get catering and make it a luncheon, and everyone chips in to pay for it. We end up calling and emailing several local restaurants to figure out what they offer and what it would cost, and we end up going with a build-your-own-burrito bar option from a local Mexican restaurant.

A few days after the meeting, I get an email from one of the other restaurants that we didn’t end up selecting, with an attached invoice listing every possible combination that we’d discussed with them in the original correspondence, totaling up to a few hundred dollars worth of food. I reply to the email, pointing out that there must be a mistake, as we never ordered or received any food from them.

There is no response to my reply, but a few days later, I get an exact copy of the original email, complete with invoice. Again, I respond and tell them that they have the wrong email or there is some other mistake, as we haven’t actually done business with them.

Again, no response, and a duplicate of the original email shows up the following Monday. At that point, I call the “help number” listed in the invoice.

Employee: “Hello, this is [Restaurant].”

Me: “Hi. I’m calling about an invoice we’ve been getting sent by mistake. We never ordered any food, so you might be sending us someone else’s invoice.”

Employee: “May I have your name?”

Me: “It’s [My Name], but I don’t—”

Employee: “Your email address is [address]?”

Me: “Yes, but we—”

Employee: “You requested a quote.”

Me:Yes, but we didn’t actually end up choosing your restaurant. We went with someone else.”

Employee: “But you requested a quote. You have to pay for it.”

Me: “That’s not how quotes work. We asked how much your food would cost, but we never actually placed an order, and we never received any food from you.”

Employee: *Pause* “I see here that you requested a quote.”

That ended up going around and around in circles for another minute, as I tried to get them to hand me to someone else. They eventually put me on hold, and then the call disconnected. Rather than call back and try hammering the point home again, I just ended up flagging the emails as spam. They continued to send exact duplicates of that email for a few weeks before they finally stopped, and I never ended up hearing anything more about it.