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Bluesteel705
11th Dec 2007, 03:05
Right folks, I need some help.

In August of this year I decided to go for a free trial session at a Fitness First Gym. I went and liked it, signed the forms and was told to book an appointment for my induction.

When I got back my brother told me he had free 12 month passes for another gym which he would let me have, happy days! So I phoned Fitness First and told them I wouldnt be coming for an induction and how do I cancel the direct debit?

I was told by the woman on the phone that I didnt need to do anything as I hadnt been to my induction just the free trial. So I rang the bank and cancelled my Direct Debit.

Since then I have moved house to be closer to work, I went back to my old house last week to pick up some mail and find 2 letters from a 'debt recovery company' asking for £27 for my first months fee's and a third letter asking for £27 + £349 legal costs for the first two letters! :yuk:

Now my dilemma is; as they dont know my new address do I keep quiet, do I pay in full, or do I just offer the £27 for the first month (Which I'd rather pay than the £349 obviously.) Not too sure what my rights are here, and someone on JB usualy has had a similar experience or knows the ins and outs.

Any help appreciated,
Cheers

Bluesteel

Howard Hughes
11th Dec 2007, 03:10
I am certainly not a legal eagle, but if you didn't receive the goods, surely you are not required to pay!:ok:

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!
11th Dec 2007, 03:35
Hopefully you'll have spent the past year going to the other gym so that when the debt collectors come round you can put up a bit of resistance.

kiwi chick
11th Dec 2007, 04:34
Firstly, don't keep quiet. If the debit is registered with a debt recovery company, they will find you eventually - unless there is shiteloads of people with the same name as you! This might not seem bad now, but trust me - it WILL come back to haunt you in the future!

Secondly, I would write to the debt recovery company and dispute the bill. I'm not sure about over there, but here in NZ they can only recover a debt if it is a PROVED debt. You can explain to them they you don't accept the debt, explain why, and that you will not be paying it.

Thirdly, write to the gym and tell them why you won't be paying it. Don't give in, you do NOT owe this money. If you have to, take this matter to (?) Disputes Tribunal (is what it's called here - "mini" court for disputes under a certain amount). You will win, I have no doubt about it.

So long as you document the facts, and they are as you tell them here, then I don't see how this can go in the gym's favour.

Kiwi :ok:

Crosshair
11th Dec 2007, 06:00
This is covered in another thread:

http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?t=303493

CherokeeDriver
11th Dec 2007, 08:10
The devil is in the detail here.

1. Did you sign the contract?
2. If you did, read it.
3. I suspect that by signing it you have comitted to 12 months membership regardless of induction etc.
4. If above is true contact the gym directly.
5. Failure to do the above will result in a court judgement and therefore immediate failure of any pre-emploment screening checks for a very long time.

CD

UniFoxOs
11th Dec 2007, 09:05
I went and liked it, signed the forms

You need to read your copy of these very carefully. If you have lost them get a mate to go for a look-see and bring the forms away with him. Then you will know what you are legally obliged to pay for, may be as much as a full year. What the woman told you on the phone may be useful in a dispute letter, but won't carry much weight in a small claims court.

Best of luck
UFO

gingernut
11th Dec 2007, 09:08
I was told by the woman on the phone that I didnt need to do anything as I hadnt been to my induction just the free trial. So I rang the bank and cancelled my Direct Debit.

Can you evidence this?

BabyBear
11th Dec 2007, 10:27
As has been said whether you are legally required to pay or not depends on the terms and conditions and whether your cancellation was within them. If you are within them then good and well, if not then it's your choice. If you choose to pay I would certainly recommend negotiating a settlement and would be confident they will bite your hand off (as I doubt many will pay of free will).

It is not unusual for 'admin' errors to be made which result in you being chased for money you don't actually owe; you need to check this out.

It is also not unusual for companies to continually chase money in a fashion that intentionally, or otherwise, can be intimidating, especially to those without experience.

From my experience these companies will blindly follow procedures and chase and chase often not responding to correspondence from you, but continually harassing. This is especially true once passed to debt agencies as they are paid on what they recover and therefore have no interest in hearing the truth. I should add that in my experience the above applies to situations where the monies were not owed.

In summary know your rights, dont' be intimidated, but don't ignore it.

Hope it helps,

BB

Gordon17
11th Dec 2007, 10:48
BBC's Watchdog have covered the difficulties of leaving Fitness First, which I believe also apply at LA Fitness. It's a bit like Hotel California - "You can check out anytime you want, but you can never leave...."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/consumer/tv_and_radio/watchdog/reports/consumer_goods/consumer_20071031.shtml

goudie
11th Dec 2007, 11:04
One outcome, if this dispute is not settled, is your credit rating could be lowered quite considerably.

Bluesteel705
11th Dec 2007, 13:52
I think my first plan of action will be to call Fitness First and ask for an explanation, I never recieved a membership card so therefore I can only have used their facilities as part of my 'FREE' trial. I'm assuming the 30 day 'Cooling off' period' only applies to credit agreements, which I dont think this is.

Edited to say: The Club referred me to Customer Services who were vaguely non-comittal and said theyd need to ring the club and not to expect to hear back for a week.

I wouldnt mind, but this is realy getting me down now :{

sweetlucy202
12th Dec 2007, 12:39
If you had a direct debit set up with them to be cancelled in the first place wouldnt that have ment you had signed something?? and given them your details? So surely in their eyes you signed a contract to pay £27 a month, im thinking for a period of time (6 / 12 months) reguardless if you use their gym or not? :bored: So simply just cancelling your direct debit isnt going to end it.

By sounds of it they are in their rights to be asking you for the money.

BellyAir
12th Dec 2007, 13:25
Ignore SweetLucy.

...and ignore the letters.

By all means write (never phone) to the gym and copy the debt-chasers laying out your case.

These debt-chasing companies are either in-house (because there are so many people like you who think it's safer just to pay) or a pet company who do it on the cheap as long as there's not too much work.

If they persist (and they probably won't) and they try to get you in court you have a right to have the hearing at a court local to you. This will finally shake them off as any miniscule profit evaporates in travelling expenses.

There is a direct debit cooling off period too. I think it's 2 weeks.

These pigs rely on fear of the law and damage to your credit rating to bully you. Do not let them.

It's time for a revolution; who's with me?

Gordon17
12th Dec 2007, 15:07
I don't believe there is a cooling off period for direct debits - cooling off periods apply to the contract not to the method of payment. And according to Consumer Direct London -
"If you join your gym over the telephone or on-line you are entitled to a seven-working day “cooling off” period under the Distance Selling Regulations. This does not mean free use of the gym for seven days before taking out membership! If you do wish to start using the facilities the next day, the gym must point out to you that your membership contract will commence and, if you agree to this, you will waive these cancellation rights."
There's more useful information sopecifically about cancelling gym memberships at http://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/doc.asp?doc=16373&cat=2333

frostbite
12th Dec 2007, 15:32
Certainly send all the relevant details to BBC Watchdog, as previously mentioned.

They have featured FF at least twice in the past.

west lakes
12th Dec 2007, 15:34
Or it never does any harm to have a word with the local paper, if someone picks the story up the resultant possible effects on trade at the club may help you

Bluesteel705
12th Dec 2007, 15:56
Thanks for all the help guys :ok:

Had a phone call from the 'Debt Recovery Agency' (Named C.A.R.S) I tried to explain the situation to them and was told that they were 'Going to get the money.' I pointed out that I could take that to be threatening I was told to shut up! :eek: At that point I ended the call, and was to say the least, speechless.

Rather be Gardening
12th Dec 2007, 16:04
Bluesteel, did you get the name of the operative? I had something similar happen to me once, so I ended the call, called the company and asked to speak to a supervisor. I asked whether this was acceptable behaviour from one of their operatives - she was very apologetic and said that the individual would be given 'extra training'. I don't know whether it happened or not, but I felt better for having registered a protest.

BellyAir
12th Dec 2007, 18:19
Never call the company, they will bully you and get you to commit to things that you do not wish to.

They dare not put the same words into a letter.

Or if you phone them, tell them you are recording the call (by law you have to unless you have a warrant), that would be interesting.

I'm speaking from a position of some knowledge. I signed a deal at First Plus (edited - I meant Fitness First of course) for 3 months and they tried to tell me I needed to give them a month's notice before cancelling.

They are scum and shouldn't be able to get away with it.

Who's with me.

PS - this all happened last year and I had 3 months of phone calls to me, letters back and since then nothing.

EGCC4284
12th Dec 2007, 19:07
I had the same problem with Fitness First.

I joined for 3 months and this was the plan all along. After 3 months, they called to see if I wanted to extend which I didn't. About 6 months later, I realised they had took about £39 a month out of my account even though I had never set up a direct debit or gave them permission to do so. When I joined for the 3 months, I paid up in total for those 3 months and never set up any sort of debit scheme.

I approached my bank and they paid the £100+ back into my account and they chased Fitness First for the recovery of their money.

Go and see your bank and I think you will find that they should reimburse your money. Not sure about the debt collection thing though. I would see your bank first and see what they say. Then if the bank are to recover the money for you, then go and see the manager of the club and mention that you are considering taking them to court for stealing from your bank account.