Bob goes to a burger joint every week for several months and orders an individual beef patty for £4 which they are able to put through on the till as an “extra.”

One time Bob arrives at the place and orders his usual and the restaurant delivers his order but then brings a bill for a full burger charged at the standard price of £10.

Bob protests this but the restaurant explains that since the old manager was replaced that week, they have changed their policy and no longer allow selling only a burger patty without charging for a whole burger. Bob offers to pay £4 like he always does, if they will put through such a charge on the PDQ, but no more, and certainly not £10.

The restaurant insists on charging £10. Can Bob leave the location without being guilty of an offence?

Then suppose Bob changes jobs the next week and no longer happens to work near the place, so forgets about this whole shift and resulting kerfuffle in the transition of his daily routine, until one evening a year later he finds himself in the old area for an appointment after which he finds himself walking by his old local lunch haunt.

He decides to stop in and order his old usual, as he always used to, “just a patty without the rest of a burger; basically only the beef, medium rare”.

Then the bill arrives again at £10, and Bob asks why it is different from how it always used to be. The same manager as was me the last time reminds him that they’d been through this once already before the prior year, so Bob should have already known what he was getting into, and Bob sort of vaguely remembers at that point but still barely recognises the new manager that he is now facing having only met him once a year ago and that when he was going through a major transition.

Anyway, what is now the legal position the second time around there having very arguably been no genuine meeting of the minds as to the terms of the formed contract?

1 Answer 1


The first time around, there was clearly an established pattern of trading and a known level of prices, which the restaurant has unilaterally and radically altered without notice.

Bob offered the usual payment, but the dispute is about the contractual amount due (or else the quantum meruit).

Bob can certainly leave, he isn't bound to stay. It's very unlikely there would be any criminal offence.

The second time around, there's a strong argument that Bob was on notice about the scale of charges, and it may be dishonesty to approach the situation as if that notice was never previously given.

Most people don't forget such confrontations easily - certainly the manager didn't even after 12 months - so Bob would be on dangerous ground refusing to pay the full amount this time around.

Certainly, he could not rely on an established pattern of trading as a reason for assuming the price, and once the manager says "I remember you", then it must prompt recall and be obvious to Bob that he has forgotten the previous notice about the price increase, and owes the full £10.

  • What if he had genuinely forgotten the previous encounter, thus undermining any potential meeting of the minds, which isn’t actually as far fetched, given certain circumstances including but not limited to those outlined in the question, as one might assume? For example, the mentioned job change, the presence of an established mental disability that makes one prone to being especially forgetful, perhaps especially when one is not yet fed, and perhaps also a propensity to order in such a way and to have similar arrangements a Oct 27 at 9:00
  • greed at branches of other similar chains. Really, just the job change coinciding roughly with the time of the shift is enough to make it not far fetched Because if it had happened a few days or weeks before the job and routing change, then the new habit would have chances to be replaced and the change learned and reinforced. If the next day after the first encounter Bob stopped in again on his way past out of habit it wouldn’t even be so weird after such a regularly entrenched habit Oct 27 at 9:01
  • But even Moreso because habits and information is often remembered and anchored to certain elements of the environment and routine. But if there was never a chance to learn to reassociate walking past the place with the disappointment and resentment toward the new manager rather than with salivating at the thought of a nice burger lunch then I think many people would very plausible forget. Oct 27 at 9:03
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    @Seekinganswers, if there's no "meeting of minds" and no contract, then it's quantum meruit. I'm doubtful that a patty without burger bread, is worth much less than one with burger bread - the vast majority of the cost is overheads and labour anyway, and the meat is probably the main cost of materials so to speak. Anyway, I think the first time around the issue is on the consumer's side, but the second time around I think it's the consumer's mistake. Even if the full £10 isn't due, the £4 isn't necessarily the reasonable amount.
    – Steve
    Oct 27 at 11:38

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