I joined a small local chain earlier this year and signed an 'agreement' that said I was locked in for 12 payments.
At the time I knew I would be moving within the space of the year and the gym instructor said that's fine I can just cancel it and send them proof of new address.
Because of illness, childcare, financial strain and moving houses, I didn't go for a month and decided I would cancel it.
I called up the gym, left a voice message and cancelled by direct debit with DFC. A DD was taken for August, I thought fair enough it was only 3 days before the membership was due but I didn't go in August and hadn't in July either (paid for both months).
Today I got an email from DFC saying I owe them the £35 for September, plus a £15 late charge and if I don't pay within 7 days, I'll get an additional £15 charge on top.
I contacted the gym who said that they don't accept cancellations over the phone, only email and after they have received proof of address. And that they probably didn't get the call come through because they were busy on another call. I wasn't given a contract to take home with me so didn't have this information on hand, if it's even in there and the conversation with the instructor was months ago - unjust to rely on memory of small details? I truly don't remember the instructor saying I needed to give proof BEFORE I even moved in order to cancel it. I was also told that I will have to pay the £35 for October as my 'notice period' will now be less than 30 days.
So I'm being stung with an £85 charge for 2 months of the gym I'm not using (already having paid £70 for the 2 previous months I didn't go).
I'm sure it will say this in tiny letters somewhere on the agreement - but I really cannot afford this now and cancelled partially because of financial strain! I have asked for the gym to send me a copy of the agreement I signed.
So my question is - can I just ignore DFC? I understand they are only regulated by the FCA to 'provide payment services'. Can they legally make me pay? Can the gym send enforcement agencies/bailiffs around to collect the money owed? How should I play this?