Business imposes additional costs after price is agreed

First time post buy used the site many times for advice  I find myself needing peoples thoughts on a subject please!

A local business that I've used many times before for dog boarding services has decided to impose additional charges on an existing booking that I have with them.

The back story is, that in January 2023 we booked a family holiday for May 2024. Shortly after the holiday confirmation, I booked kennels for my dog to cover the holiday dates. The agreed price was £320, and a non refundable deposit was paid at the time of booking the kennel which was £160.

Fast forward to 22nd November 23, and the kennels has announced that there is going to be a price increase from 1st January, and that they will be applying this to existing bookings.

As such, they've requested an additional £30 from me, bring the total cost to £350.

I queried this with the business, who have stated that "fluctuating business costs" have mean the price rises are unavoidable, and that to give customers whom have existing bookings "flexibility" the freedom to cancel and receive the deposit back in full.

When I pointed out to the business that when I booked the price was agreed upon, they are unwilling to give any other option than the pay up the additional charges, or cancel and get money back.

I'll point out that the terms and conditions of booking do not state anywhere that prices are subject to change at any point, and whilst I have also pointed this out to the business owner, they are steadfast in their response that its a difficult decision they've had to take.

I have the opportunity to seek alternstive boarding if I so wish, because I'm lucky in that I've got a few months before my holiday. If however you had a holiday coming up in January, good luck finding boarding at such short notice. In that situation, you'd have no choice but to pay the extra. I feel sorry for those customers in that situation.

Whilst the price increases may not break the bank I feel its unfair for a business to put you in this position after a price has already been agreed.

I can't force the business to accept the original price of £320 as agreed, they've made it clear what the options are. Pay more or cancel.

Ironically they've said that they really value my custom and will be sorry to lose me as a customer should I choose to cancel. My thoughts are why not just honour the existing price and keep me as a customer? I'd be inclined to use them again if they would honour the original price of this existing booking.

Thanks for reading, thoughts welcome.
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Comments

  • BJV
    BJV Posts: 2,535
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    I understand that business costs are rising, heating, water, staff??? but it seems a little unfair and a bit shortsighted to demand the extra. I agree I  think it would have been better business to honour the price but let you know of increased costs for your next booking. 

    But I guess if they are so stuck in their ways the only option is to as they say cancel or pay the extra. 
    Happiness, Health and Wealth in that order please!:A
  • born_again
    born_again Posts: 13,676
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    Well at least it not a large increase. & they are offering to refund if not happy.
    While you could go elsewhere, you may find that it is more expensive.

    Not good that they have done it, but these days it happening more often when booking so far in advance.
    Life in the slow lane
  • I think there's two things here... rights and practicalities. 

    1. Depending on when the balance is due (at the start or end of the stay), you could just pay the agreed amount/tell them to take you to court for the increase... 

    2. The other side is to pay the increase and then take them to court for a refund of the excess

    3. Building on that, get a refund, and if the alternative provision is more expensive sue them for the difference 

    Personally, I would say given the amount of the increase and if you have had a good service from these people previously (and if they're still competitively priced/conveniently located) I'd say none of those options are advisable. You'd have a decent chance of winning via any of the above routes (with sensible pre-court actions), but it's not guaranteed, stressful, and you'd not be able to use those services again... 
    I'm not an early bird or a night owl; I’m some form of permanently exhausted pigeon.
  • user1977
    user1977 Posts: 13,348
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    edited 29 November 2023 at 12:01PM
    It would have been better if they had clarified it contractually, but I don't think it's that unreasonable to allow for prices to be adjusted if a booking is made 16 months in advance of the service being provided.

    Are you just objecting to the price increase out of principle, or is it actually now uncompetitive?
  • Whilst I completely empathise with the customer / business 'ethics' argument . . . I'd want to maintain a good relationship with the people who are looking after my pet so I could go away and enjoy my holiday . . .
  • the_lunatic_is_in_my_head
    the_lunatic_is_in_my_head Posts: 7,319
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    edited 29 November 2023 at 12:41PM
    They want a non-refundable deposit but the ability to vary the price as and when, highly unlikely to be considered fair but as above the pragmatic view is to probably pay the £30 to save the headache and know the dogs are looked after by a place you trust. 

    Seems short sighted on their part to annoy a loyal customer over 30 quid.

    user1977 said:
    I don't think it's that unreasonable to allow for prices to be adjusted if a booking is made 16 months in advance of the service being provided.


    The business benefits by accepting bookings so far in advance, they don't have to do so if they feel changes in costs could impact them, any term is going to be judged against the CRA list of terms that ma be unfair including

    A term which has the object or effect of enabling the trader to alter the terms of the contract unilaterally without a valid reason which is specified in the contract.

    The CMA advises A variation clause is more likely to be found fair if it is narrow in effect so even a blanket we can change the price due to costs is at a risk of being deemed unfair, additional costs should be anticipated so would likely need to be specific rather than vague. 

    At least they are offering the ability to cancel which gives them some credit in terms of fairness.

    There is also

    A term which has the object or effect of permitting a trader to increase the price of goods, digital content or services without giving the consumer the right to cancel the contract if the final price is too high in relation to the price agreed when the contract was concluded.

    which coupled with the original terms of a non-refundable deposit clearly falls foul. 
  • user1977
    user1977 Posts: 13,348
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    I understand the legal principles, but in this situation as a customer I'd probably view getting the booking in the diary as the main thing, and the rates would be whatever their 2024 prices happen to be. And I doubt I'd be quibbling unless the new prices were outrageous or I otherwise wanted to get out of the contract.
  • user1977 said:
    It would have been better if they had clarified it contractually, but I don't think it's that unreasonable to allow for prices to be adjusted if a booking is made 16 months in advance of the service being provided.

    Are you just objecting to the price increase out of principle, or is it actually now uncompetitive?
    I object because when I asked the business why they were unable to honour the original price of the booking, they stated:

    "Given that our bookings are often made many months in advance, waiting to apply price changes only to new bookings would significantly delay our ability to adapt to these cost variations."

    Given this, should the business find themselves in a similar situation in a few months' time, they could impose further price increases, using the same approach. 

    Nothing stopping them say in March stating they are increasing prices again. There's no assurances against further additional price increases, which returns me to my original point, that they should honour the price at the time.of booking.

    Seems the business is happier taking a chance of getting £0 or a guarantee of £320. If costs are such a concern for them, why take the risk over £30?
  • The rights are clear, so this comes down to a personal and practical choice. 
  • sheramber
    sheramber Posts: 18,642
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    Is it likely  that they would not get another booking, at the new price, if you cancelled?

    presumably, you booked early in case they became  fully booked if you waited later.
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