Can I cancel a coffee service contract if I’m dissatisfied with the performance of the equipment?

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Can I cancel a coffee service contract if I’m dissatisfied with the performance of the equipment?

We’ve had our coffee service for 6 months and according to the contract can’t cancel service without paying an early termination fee of $100/period for the remaining 2-1/2 year term ($600 total). However, we’ve had numerous problems with the equipment and the company has been unable to fix the problems. There are no allowances in the contract for termination on our part for any reason. The contract is written for the specific model coffee brewer we have. If we ask that that coffee brewer be removed due to performance issues is the contract void?

Asked on February 2, 2012 under Business Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There is no hard and fast answer to your question, because it depends on how severe are the performance issues. When one party to a contract breaches the contract in a material, or critical, way, that breach can provide grounds to terminate the contract. However, minor, or potentially even moderate, problems, glitches, suboptimal performance, etc. will generally not allow  early termination.

For example, if equipment is balky and simply requires frequent servicing, or takes longer to work, or produces coffee that is not as good as advertised, that it likely not grounds to terminate. If the machine is broken more often that not, so you don't actually get the benefit of using it, that would justify termination. In between those two extremes, there is some point at which the average reasonable person would conclude the company has breached its obligations--that's the point at which you could terminate.

If you do not have grounds to terminate, then you cannot do so by the artifice of instructing that his machine be removed, then terminating due to the fact that it's not the machine in the contract; a party may not create the conditions justifying termination.

So the answer to your question will depend upon how severe the problems are.


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