Woman walks in to a bar
and sees a special offer for her favourite wine, and orders a glass (it was only a glass, but it was a very large glass, almost bucket sized), sits at a table and begins to drink. After she’s finished, she asks for the bill and is surprised to see that the price she is being charged is much higher than the price advertised. When she queries this, she is told that they had sold out of that wine, and they had substituted it with the next best alternative, which was not on special offer, and they point to their terms and conditions, which are in the menu, but which our hero hadn’t seen.
So this brings us to a discussion about your terms of business. You are entitled to have any terms that you like (so long as they don’t breach things like the Unfair Contract Terms Act) but no matter how fair, reasonable and enforceable your terms are, if you haven’t taken all reasonable steps to bring them to the attention of your customers, they may not be worth the menu they are written on. If our hero had been given the menu to choose her wine from, and the substitution rule had been clearly marked but she simply hadn’t seen it, the pub may have had a better argument for the higher price. However, even if she had seen the menu, if the clause was in small print and/or at the back, the hostility may struggle to argue that they have taken all reasonable steps to bring this to her attention.
Of course you could argue that they should have known that the wine she was served was not the wine she had ordered. However, unless you are a wine buff I doubt many of us could tell the difference between one Pinot Grigio and another. In her defence, it was white, cold and in a glass so she was happy!
How did this sorry tale end? Rather ingeniously I thought. Our hero asked the bar if they could prove that they had only recently run out of the wine on special offer. If they couldn’t, she suggested that this would be a case for trading standards. She reminded the management that it’s not that long ago that a famous airline was fined a hefty amount for advertising very cheap flights that actually didn’t exist, or exited in such low quantities so as to be negligible. This amounted to false advertising, designed only to con people in to calling up so that the airlines agents could talk them in to buying alternative (more expensive) flights. Not only did the exercise cost the airline in terms of the fine, but the damage to their reputation was huge and their share price dropped considerably. The management decided to err on the side of caution, and the woman didn’t have to pay anything! A good result for all. The bar received a free lesson in law and our hero received a free glass of wine.
If you would like something for nothing, let us review your ts and cs or those of a client or contact of yours. The best things in life, like legal advice and wine, can be free! Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange to meet somewhere where the wine is plentiful and the prices are reasonable.
Kleyman & Co Solicitors. The full service law firm. You don’t always have to pay for what you get!