Hi everybody, I'm new to this forum - spent a lot of time reading other threads on the issue of Xercise 4 Less/Harlands/CRS last night and now feel a bit more informed than I did previously! But I would like some help to see if I have a leg to stand on here before I go into battle!
I moved to Scotland in April, and subsequently joined the local Xercise 4 Less gym on the 27th on a 12 month contract at 14.99 per month. When joining, I also paid a £20.00 joining fee - taking my first total payment to £34.99.
I find it important to state now that I NEVER set foot in the gym after joining. (This was confirmed by a woman I spoke to on the telephone last Monday, 12th October '15 - more on this later) I fell pregnant and didn't really feel like going then. I continued to pay for the membership and unfortunately lost the pregnancy at just 4 weeks.
The company I was working for at the time - in short - went bust, and I was found without a job. I then found out I had fallen pregnant again and after losing my first pregnancy I certainly did not want to go to the gym due to my fears if anything else! For these reasons, I cancelled the direct debit with my bank online after approximately 3 months and 11 days of membership.
My partner and I then moved into a new flat in the same town. With my direct debit cancelled, I did not find it appropriate to notify the gym of my change of address, as far as I was concerned, I was no longer a member. I also find it important to state at this point that I have been a member of other gyms in the past and they took cancellation of my direct debit payments as cancellation of the service they were providing and did not contact me further - I believed this would be the case with this company also.
How wrong I was!
On Monday, 12th October I received a letter from a company called CRS - I have found many letters the same on these threads so will just paraphrase:
They say they have been employed by Xercise 4 Less as my membership remains in arrears despite letters being sent - I had not received these letters, but the gym remained to have my telephone number/email in their records, and I heard nothing from them through either of these channels.
They say they have added their fees (£111.57) to my debt, and the balance is now sitting at £321.48
They then say they want to reach an amicable resolution and give contact details telling me to phone them.
Stupidly, I did exactly that. I asked the man I spoke to why on earth I had to pay so much money. He continuously repeated to me that my account was in arrears. I had told him I was not happy to pay the fees, and also explained my reasons for leaving the gym. He froze my account for 7 days and demanded I prove I was pregnant by sending forms/paperwork to him. If I sent these forms the amount would be reduced "significantly" due to my pregnancy.
I also phoned the gym and asked them what was going on. The woman I spoke to had confirmed that I had never set foot in the gym (she could tell from her electronic records). I asked her why I had to pay so much for a service I had joined but never took advantage of. She told me I owed the gym £219.00 and to sort it out with the Xercise 4 Less customer service team, and gave me a telephone number. I never phoned this number.
I have done the basic maths after checking my bank account -
- The payments made to Harlands totalled £64.97 - this is evident in payments taken from 11th May (34.99), 26th May (14.99) and 25th June (£14.99) ---thats just raised a question in itself, why did they take my joining fee so late, and why did they charge me twice in one month...surely they've taken 2 months of payment in one month?--
- If I was still paying for the gym, I would have only now paid them a further sum of approx. £25.98, another 2 months worth of membership give or take a few days.
- Upon checking my bank statement for August I see they attempted to take £39.99 from me, but I had no notification from the bank that any payments had bounced, and we can see above that they haven't - I made the payments. I wonder why they were trying to take so much from me?
So WHY do I owe them £321.48/£219.00 - I'm very confused as to which it is, as when the CRS "fees" are added, the total amounts to £330.57 - so is someone playing silly beggars?!
- From what I have read on other threads, CRS and Harlands are the same company - does this mean they have not sold my "debt" on to someone else and have no right to be using a different letterhead as a scare tactic?
- Does the court ruling of The OFT vs AMSL in 2011 apply to me, and can I use it to back up my claim that cancellation of my direct debit was notice enough?
- As I never used the service, do I have any differing cancellation rights?
- As the amount I'm being charged is absolutely out of this world, am I right in thinking that this is made up of silly fees/penalties and as such cannot be enforced? Remember, I've been told as I'm pregnant the amount can be reduced significantly. Why/how if they are not just pointless unlawful penalties?
- I will no longer speak with any of the companies on the telephone, and will only have written correspondence. As there are a few lingering days at the beginning and end of the membership I am happy to offer them a month's payment (£14.99) as a good will gesture and final settlement of fees owed. Is this within my rights and would you say this was sensible to do?
- Do I speak with Harlands on this matter? I do not want to speak with CRS (although I realise they are one and the same).
Any help would be greatly appreciated! I must admit I was very upset when I first received the letter but now I am furious that they are trying to take money from me, especially at a time when this so called debt amounts to the price of my baby's pram, car seat and changing bag all in one!
Thank you in advance,