Curbing demands for cash from people who paint your curb

Columnist David Lazarus answers your consumer questions in this one-minute video.

Michelle found one of those notices outside her home saying her house number would be painted on the curb. A "donation" of $20 was requested.

After the work was finished, the painters hassled Michelle for the money. She asks: Is she obliged to pay them?


The answer: Nope.

This racket is all too common. An official-looking notice says house numbers will be painted on the curb, and the wording suggests that homeowners are on the hook for a certain amount of money.

In fact, there's nothing official about what's going on, and the law says you're not required to pay for any work that you didn't authorize in advance.

If the workers get huffy and insist that you pony up some do-re-mi, here's what you do: Politely ask them to wait outside your door as you go call the police.

For more, check out today's Ask Laz video.

If you have a consumer question, email me at or  contact me via Twitter @Davidlaz.