I occasionally get asked for advice on how to resolve gym membership problems. This query was in connection with a lapsed gym membership.
“A few years back my daughter was down in Bournemouth University, she took on gym membership for a 1 year contract, she then decided to pack up Uni as she could not afford to live down there and move back home to Cannock.
Long story short – she cancelled gym but stupidly did not give 1 month’s notice. This was 2014 – now she has a debt collection on to her. I’m trying to get her to come to some sort of arrangement with them, they’ve threatened Court action and with what she owed and addons the debt is now around £170. Are you able to advise anything?”
It appears that his daughter’s debt has been sold on and no doubt they will be trying heavy handed tactics to get her to pay up.
My advice in these circumstances is;
1. Send a letter by recorded delivery asking for proof that they own the debt and if so, is it a credit agreement? Also state that you have it in writing that you cancelled the gym membership and advised the gym of a change of address. There is clearly a misunderstanding that they need to address and you reserve the right to take Court action if you are subject to any further harassment.
2. Lodge a complaint with the Office of Fair Trading (‘OFT’) at email@example.com and advise the debt collection firm that you have taken this course of action.
3. Await their response.
4. Get a copy of her credit file from Experian to see what has been recorded (if anything) so you can see where the footprints and paper trail is.
They could take this to Court hence why you need to fire a robust response and lodge a complaint to try and nail it before it starts sprouting arms and legs (and racking up increased costs).
You need to get debt collectors work for their money as they just expect you to fold on the first hurdle. You are within your rights to contest this and the Office of Fair Trading will have come across this before on many occasions, which adds weight to your stance.
The more you throw at them from the start, the better the result.
Whilst it may have been a misunderstanding, it is hardly a shining example of great customer service and customers have various platforms such as Google Reviews, TrustPilot and Facebook to air them. Bad experiences travel much faster than good experiences and firms need to raise their game.
Have you had gym membership problems? If so, what was the outcome?