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If I make a booking to rent a car or a motel - without paying a deposit, and where I have the option of cancelling without charge - and the company accepts the booking but some time later changes a material term of the agreement (eg raises the price of the hotel or changes the pickup location of a car rental), was a contract formed and breached ?

The terms of the booking agreement did not have an allowance for the provider to cancel or modify the terms.

I'm asking this question as I'm unsure if the requirement of consideration has been met as no money has yet changed hands, and it is possible that money will not changed hands.

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A promise is consideration: they promised a car/room, you promised to pay. On the face of it, a binding contract was formed and they cannot vary it unilaterally.

For the examples you give:

  1. Unless the contract allows them to vary the price of the room after the booking, they can only charge you the same price unless you agree to a different one - if that different one is more than the previous one they would need to offer some consideration (free drink?) to make a binding variation to the contract.

  2. Again, you would have to agree and they would have to offer some consideration for the agreement.

Your right to cancel the booking is a part of the contract - cancelling the booking doesn't invalidate the contract, it just brings it to completion and releases both of your from further obligation.

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