One who knows or has reason to believe that compensation is expected for goods or services tendered him ought not to accept such goods or services unless he intends to pay for them. Consequently, though he does not expressly promise to pay for them, the act of acceptance will be construed as a promise of payment and will ordinarily result in a genuine contractual obligation. But what if one accepts goods or services without knowledge or reason to believe that compensation is expected ? The act of acceptance, under the circumstances, cannot fairly be said to raise an implied promise. But if the person who tenders the goods or services actually intends to charge for them, and mistakenly believes that the recipient is aware of such expectation and therefore that the act of acceptance is to be construed as a promise to pay, the benefit resulting from the receipt of the goods or services is clearly a benefit conferred in misreliance upon a supposed contract. Whether or not the law requires such a benefit to be restored depends upon certain circumstances affecting the justice of such a requirement, hereafter to be considered (post, Sec. 57).
A transaction which is intended by both parties to effect the formation of a contract may fail of its purpose by reason of the offeree's mistake as to the identity of the offerer. For example, if A delivers ice to B, which B accepts and consumes in the reasonable belief that it comes from C, there is no contract.1 A's tender of the ice amounts to an offer, but B's acceptance of the ice in the belief that it is supplied by C amounts to a promise to pay C and not A. A, however, has conferred a benefit upon B in reliance upon a supposed contract, and unless peculiar circumstances justify the retention of the benefit (post, Sec. 55), quasi contractual obligation will result.