Q: I brought my car to the mechanic for repairs. He called in the afternoon to say that the car is ready. Do I have to pay him that day if I will not pick up the car until the morning?
A: When you give an item to a worker for repairs, so long as the item is in his hands you are not in violation for delaying payment. When he returns the item to you, you must pay that day. (Choshen Mishpat 339:6)
There are a number of explanations for this halacha. Some explain that so long as the car is in the mechanic’s hand, it serves as collateral to ensure payment. (SM”A 339:10) Others explain that the worker cannot demand payment and the job is not considered completed until the item is returned. (Aruch Hashulchan 339:8; Ketzos 72:23) A third explanation is that by not returning the car, the mechanic indicates his willingness to wait on the payment. (Meiri B.M. 112a)
If the mechanic explicitly asks you to pick up the car and pay that day, there is a dispute whether you can delay payment if you do not pick it up. The Chafetz Chaim maintains that you do not violate by waiting, whereas Aruch Hashulchan is of the opinion that you violate. Everyone agrees that there is an obligation not to delay payment without reasonable cause. (See Pischei Teshuva 339:2; Ahavas Chesed 10(2) and Biur Halacha O.C. 242 s.v. l’chabed; Aruch Hashulchan 339:8; C.M. 339:8)
These same laws apply to one who brings clothes to a tailor, seamstress, or dry cleaners, since they hold the clothes until payment.
Authored by Rabbi Meir Orlian
These articles are for learning purposes only and cannot be used for final halachic decision. The Business Halacha email is a project of Business Halacha Institute (www.businesshalacha.com) and is under the auspices of Rav Chaim Kohn.