What are my rights regarding a change to a contract?

I have a contract for a venue for an event to serve food and host the meal. I had received a menu with food prices when I signed the contract which stated: “Prices are subject to change at any time due to market conditions.” The contract also included a service charge to be added to the total cost. “Service Charge: An 18% service charge and 7.25% sales tax will apply to all events. Organizations that are tax-exempt must present a copy of their tax-exempt certificate”. Since signing the contract the food prices have increased which I believe to be within the terms of the conctract. However, they have also told me that the service charge is now 20% instead of 18%. Does the “prices are subject to change” line also apply to the fee?

Asked on February 15, 2016 under Business Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Since the service charge is on a separate line item than the food prices and also since the usual and reasonable meaning of "prices" does not include a service charge, it is most likely improper to increase this separate charge without your consent. (In addition, "market conditions"--e.g. the cost of food and fuel--which is the reason that prices could change does not affect a service charge.) Of course, if you refuse to pay it and can't work it out, you will likely end up in litigation; whether the extra 2% is worth a possibly court fight is a different story, but if you do end up in court, you likely have the better case.


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