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MCA (Membership Collection Agency) - Curves


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Is this a new shyster on the block?

I am surprised that I can find nothing previous on Northampton based MCA or Curves Fitness Centres for whom they collect.

 

Curves, only for women, operates as a franchise worldwide, based on a simple automated fitness circuit.

It would appear the franchisors use, probably by contract, MCA Northampton to collect for them, although you can pay at the local club. I get the impression that MCA or Membership Collection Agency is a one-man band operated by a David Martin Forsyth-Pontin.

 

But here we go, the story as brief as I can (with nice pics) :

8th May 2010 - the wife (always the bloody wife huh) joined a local Curves Gym on 6 month written agreement.

The Membership Agreement view here is for 6 months and has an expiry date, as can be seen, of 8/11/10. So no minimum membership period is now outstanding.

 

Wife had a couple of issues with the equipment causing her back pain and this was raised, informally, with a member of staff, who gave no real help. But that is little but a side issue.

 

She decided she'd had enough and decided to quit, unbeknown to me, by cancelling her DD payment before the November payout. So mid November she got a first letter from MCA about payment overdue and adding a £12.50 administration fee, followed by a second letter in the 3rd week of the month threatening steps to commence court proceedings.

 

It was now that I became aware of it. So knowing the process, I advised and acted as follows:

 

  • Paid £34 direct to gym to cover outstanding month of November.
  • Paid £34 direct to gym in lieu of a months notice to terminate.
  • Issued letter of termination giving 1 month's notice (paid as above) at same time, delivered by hand to gym and signed for, with copy sent in post (recorded) to MCA Northampton.

 

Soon after, received a letter (view here) with a laughable addition of a £93 'cancellation fee'

Note, not administration fee, this is purely a "fee to cancel" (wow, scary huh?)

 

So, I know what I want to do:

a) Send letter to DM Forsyth-Pontin rejecting his unlawful cancellation fee, framed with ref to UTCC Regs 1999 and the OFT guidance on debt collection.

b) Send copies to OFT to appraise them of another shyster going down the
Ashbourne Management
route

However, I call upon your ever wise advice to help and guide me in the best ways of skinning this cat.

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Further to the above post:

should I first be writing to MCA to ask them to state the basis for levying this 'cancellation fee'?

(not that I believe for one second it is a valid fee, but it might be interesting to see what they say)

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Hi Analyst,

 

Don't bother writing to query the basis for levying their fees - they'll simply refer you to the signed m/ship agreement and quote that as their authority.

 

Clearly your wife should have given a month's written notice in October, to expire on 8th November. But you have remedied this by paying it and have even gone a step further to pay the extra month's fee in lieu of notice.

 

Write to MCA pointing out that the matter is in dispute with Curves and that you have paid them the final month's fee plus an extra payment in lieu of the month's cancellation notice.

 

Remind them that their admin or penalty fees for late payments are wholly unlawful and unenforceable at law.

 

Finish by telling them the matter is in clear dispute and they must not make any further demands of you, in accordance with the OFT's DC Guidelines. Accordingly, any demands that are made will be reported to both Trading Standards and the FOS for formal investigation.

 

From a look at the "Agreement", it looks rather poorly constructed and I doubt it's enforceable, but that's a different issue and not one you need to address.

 

See my reply here on another similar thread - http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?286980-Crs-gold-gym-problem(1-Viewing)-nbsp

 

8-)

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