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SWPP Photographer Subscription


cstevens
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Hi.

 

I am a part-time professional photographer. In november 2006 I joined a professional "organsiation" called the SWPP (Society of Wedding & Portrait Photographers). Basically it costs £99 a year for a subscription and for that you get a magazine every two months, use of their logos and lots of discounts.

 

In November 2007 my subscription was up for renewal and I decided that it wasn't worth the money and like any other subscription I just didnt pay the renewal fee. This would normally mean that the subscription would be cancelled.

 

They sent a few reminders and I discarded them and today I have receieved a letter from them sent 2nd class recorded delivery giving me 7 days to pay else they will go to a debt collection agency. The letter is dated the 1st September 2007 !!!!!!....slight oversight on their part!.

 

I have done some digging, and it seems that in very very small print on their website they have a clause that states that to leave the subscription you have to give 3 months notice in writing by recorded delivery....and there seems to be a lot of people complaining on the internet of the same thing as me.

 

Basically they are now telling me that I have to pay them the £99 due and then 3 months before Nov 2008 I can put in notice to quit. There is nothing anywhere to suggest that this is a rolling contract, other than this small print of 3 months notice.

 

I have never been sent a copy of the terms, however the original form that had to be returned to them had the terms on it...and I am informed by another photographer that it will have said the 3 months...however it does not state that its a recurring contract.

 

Aside from the fact that their letter is dated wrong so is not really valid. Any ideas if I have any sort of comeback or should I do what appears to be what hundreds of other photographers have done and paid them the £99 and given them a post dated notice to quit letter?

 

For reference this is the only place I can find their terms on.

 

https://swpp.co.uk/secure/join.htm

 

RULES of MEMBERSHIP.

(a) Membership of the society shall be open to persons who are engaged in the full time or semi professional photography, or as shall be accepted into membership by the secretary of SWPP & BPPA.

(b) A member may withdraw from the SWPP & BPPA by giving three months clear notice in writing , to the secretary, such notice shall not be deemed to have been received unless posted by recorded delivery or receipt is acknowledge by the secretary in writing . On expiry of such notice such members shall forfeit all benefits and interest in the society as from that date, but shall be liable for any unsatisfied dues or commitments towards the society including full memberships fees for the year in which the resignation becomes effective.

© All members agree to abide by the Rules and Code of conduct of the SWPP & BPPA.

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  • 2 weeks later...

csteven.

 

I've also fallen foul of the SWPP T&C's regarding notice to quit, my renewal date was 01/09/07 however in january 2008 I received a letter from their debt collection agency, demanding £151.83, this being the initial £99.00, and a £48.00 penalty fee, plus interest applied under the late payment of commercial debts legislation.

 

They (SWPP) also got my renewal date wrong, I was originaly being charged interest from 01/01/07 instead of 01/09/07, a discrepancy that they didn't seem too concerned with, the debt collectors however recalculated and reduced the interest by around £10.00. to the above £151.83.

 

Like yourself I don't remember having being issued with a copy of my signed agreement (perhaps I should have made a copy), and therefore I had to request a copy, which they emailed to me. I'm now also wondering if my original agreement was a consumer agreement and therefore not covered by the "late payment of commercial debts" legislation, which as far as I'm aware only applies to B2B contracts.

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Yes, since posting this I have spoken to many photographers who have all been hit by them in their hidden print.

 

However, after speaking to the governments consumer hotline, they said that yes having a notice period in a contract meant that effectively its a rolling contract and that I needed to pay then quit. What they did say though is see if there was anything in their original contract that had changed.

 

Well, the reason I joined the SWPP was to get my CRB check. As an individual its very hard to do this, however the SWPP where acting as an umbrella company. Now it seems that they are not, they also have not communicated this, they have just removed it from the list of "benifits".

 

I contacted the SWPP and stated that as they have withdrawn a fundimental part of the membership, and not communicated it with me, then they where in breach of the contract.

 

They contacted me and said they where happy to end the contract with no further charge :)

 

So hopefully this thread will assist any other photographers in the same boat with the SWPP. I have certainly learnt my lesson.

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