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Friday, February 17, 2012

Snyder on How to "Dine and Ditch" Under the UCC

Frank-snyder1The ABA Journal reports that The Cheesecake Factory will begin posting drink prices in Massachusetts after a lawyer threatened suit.  According to the article, the lawyer "threatened to sue under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act on behalf of a friend who was charged $11 for a margarita at a Cheesecake Factory in Chestnut Hill. The price was not on the menu and the server was only able to provide a range of drink costs."  

The ABA Journal looks to our very own founder, Franklin Snyder, for guidance.  Previously, Frank had commented in a New York Times column about Nello.  This Manhattan restaurant has (had?) a practice of not mentioning the price of a white truffle pasta lunch special.  This practice shocked a recent diner when he turned over a bill charging $275 for the dish.  To the New York Times, Snyder commented:

“You might be interested in letting your readers know that a restaurant meal is a ‘sale of goods’ under Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code,” he wrote. “The code provides that where the buyer and seller have agreed to a contract but have not agreed on the price, the price is not what the seller subsequently demands. It’s a reasonable price for the goods at issue. Thus a customer has no obligation to pay for anything more than the reasonable price of a pasta meal at a trendy restaurant.”

He continued: “In this circumstance, a customer should make a reasonable offer for the value of the meal, then walk out and wait to be sued for breach of contract. Be sure to leave the restaurant full contact information so they can’t claim that you’re trying to steal something.”

Thanks for the tip, Frank! I'm heading over to Nello for the truffle pasta dish.  I hope there isn't a price listed on the menu.

[Meredith R. Miller]

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Comments

And $275 is not a reasonable pribe for a white truffle dish? I think the diner might have have a difficult burden of proof problem.

Posted by: Bill Reynolds | Feb 20, 2012 10:16:28 AM

Bill, the original story (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/your-money/at-nello-a-case-of-restaurant-bill-shock-the-haggler.html?ref=your-money) mentions that the truffle pasta was consumed during a lunch for three. The total bill was $400. Given that the other meals could have cost no more than $62.50 each, and likely cost much less, given the likelihood of drinks and desserts, $275 does seem unreasonable. Or do you think it reasonable for restaurants to assume that anyone who orders the special will know the market price for truffles?

Posted by: Jeremy Telman | Feb 20, 2012 3:14:10 PM

Unbelievable!

Posted by: steve | Nov 18, 2012 3:49:13 PM

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