A quick search for “firewood delivery (your town)” reveals that either (1) Firewood Dealers are completely oblivious to the state rules they must comply with, or (2) Firewood Sellers / Dealers or Delivery companies don’t really see any risk in non-compliance – the latter possibly being due to lax enforcement. Nevertheless, if you are a Firewood Seller / Dealer or Delivery company (i.e. you sell and/or deliver firewood) and you advertise your services, you should refresh your memory or get familiar with these firewood sales rules (see below).
For better or worse, we live in a litigious society, and sooner or later some unhappy customer will complain, learn about these rules, and possibly file a lawsuit against you and/or your business (depending on how your business is structured) pursuant to M.G.L. chapter 93A. MGL ch. 93A provides for triple damages plus attorney’s fees and costs. And if your Firewood Sales or Delivery business is quite successful, you can almost guarantee the lawsuit will be filed as a class action; putting you and your business at risk of losing tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more, depending on the success of your business). As always, an ounce of prevention can be a pound of cure.
The statute is Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 94, Section 298 (MGL ch.94, sec.298) titled “Sale of cordwood; dimensions; standard units of measure defined”. It essentially provides the following:
- the terms “cord”, “face cord”, “pile” or “truckload” are PROHIBITED from use in marketing or advertising the sale of cordwood or firewood; this includes online ads, postings, brochures, emails etc. – any type of advertising whatsoever. So all those search results advertising the sale of a “1/4 cord” or “1/2 cord” or “face cord” or “full cord” of wood are in violation of the statute;
- the legal measurement of the wood MUST BE measured in CUBIC FEET, and measured at the time of first stacking where the logs are “closely stacked”. The first “closely stacked” stacking of firewood does not have to happen on the property after delivery. One way to cover yourself as a Firewood Seller / Dealer or Delivery company would be take a time/date stamped photo of the closely stacked firewood next to a standard measurement before delivery since most deliveries simply dump the wood in a driveway. By ‘standard measurement’ it could be measuring tape, a yard stick or some other item you could compare the dimensions to if necessary. If you deliver AND stack the wood, you should take a picture after stacking at the place of delivery as well to avoid after-the-fact complaints. These are low cost, minimal time solutions (the ounce of prevention).
- Every Firewood Seller / Dealer is required to disclose their name and address to the customer along with the amount of cubic feet sold and price charged on the customer’s invoice or delivery ticket.
- You should also disclose the type of wood included in the delivery as the BTU production varies considerably. For example, according to the Massachusetts Association of Professional Foresters, 128 cubic feet of Hickory will produce 24.6 BTUs, the equivalent of 146 gallons of # fuel oil while the same 128 cubic feet of Poplar will produce only 12.5 BTUs, the equivalent of only 74 gallons of #2 fuel oil. Any misrepresentation in the composition of the firewood you deliver can, therefore, have a dramatic impact on the value received (or expected to be received) by the customer – which could serve as another basis for a lawsuit.
If you are Firewood Seller / Dealer or Delivery company and would like more information on compliance with Massachusetts regulations or would like to restructure your business to minimize your personal risk or liability, please contact the Boston Business Lawyers at The Jacobs Law, LLC today.
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A Business Lawyer at The Jacobs Law LLC can represent your business in defense of a lawsuit involving sales of firewood or other goods and services, or advise your business on steps you can take to minimize your risk of litigation for violations of the applicable regulations, breach of contract or consumer claims under MGL ch.93A. Contact a Boston Business Attorney at The Jacobs Law LLC today!