Occasionally organisations will telephone pubs to sell them a listing or advertising in their pub guides: Agreeing over the phone may constitute a verbal contract.
Clearly, they are well trained in persuading operators to sign up for their service and often call during busy trading hours when they know operators are more likely to feel pressured to make quick decisions. What is more, these calls are often recorded.
However, it is important to understand that a verbal contract can be made over the telephone. So if an operator agrees to accept their services they will then be obliged to pay.
Often the operator does not realise they have agreed to enter a contract in this way and so when invoices start arriving with threats to take them to Court for outstanding debts it can be both upsetting and concerning.
If this happens it is best initially to write to the company concerned disputing that any contract has been entered into and requesting a copy of the telephone records. At this point, it should become clear whether a contract has been entered or not. Clearly, if in a moment of weakness you have agreed to pay to be entered into a pub guide, then you will have to pay the amount owing. However, if you have not agreed, you are perfectly entitled to refuse.
It is very easy to agree to suggestions over the telephone especially if the call is made at a busy time. So to avoid any problems, it is best to advise staff to ask anyone trying to sell to them over the phone to write or email you with their proposals. At least then you can see exactly what you are buying into.
For further information, please contact our Alcohol & Entertainment Licensing team on 01332 340 211.