Is there a “cooling off” period for a services contract such as that between a dog trainer and client?

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Is there a “cooling off” period for a services contract such as that between a dog trainer and client?

The majority of my business is private in-home training sessions. Most clients pay for a discounted package price of 4, 8 or 12 sessions up front. If a client has received 1/+ training session and then never responds to requests to schedule the next paid-for session, or indicates they have made other training decisions, are they entitled to a refund for the sessions not used? Is there a time limit on that? For example: client paid more than 8 weeks ago and now may ask for a refund. Also, if refund is necessary, can I prorate at my regular hourly rate rather than the discounted package price?

Asked on April 17, 2012 under General Practice, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Assuming that you are delivering the services you are supposed to, when and where you are supposed to, and of a commercially acceptable qualify--i.e. the reason the customer wants to cancel or a refund is not anything wrong which you did--then the law does not require you to provide a refund. That is, it is perfectly legal to have all sales or service contracts be nonfundable. (Of course, it is often better business and marketing to provide at least a partial refund, but that is your decision.)

So if it's just that the client has decided he/she doesn't want your services, then you only have to provide whatever refund the service contract provided for (if any) or which you want to provide.

If the problem is that your services were not of commercial quality, you couldn't provide them at the agreed-up time or place, or anything like that, then the customer could cancel and could get a refund of amounts paid which have not been used--e.g., if they paid $400 for 8 sessions and only had one before your breach, they could get back $350 for the other 7.


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