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Virgin Active & ARC Credit Management


Dega
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Hello

 

I need some advice please on the situation I am in.

 

The background is I was a member of Esporta Gym which was taken over by Virgin Active, and even after they took it over I wasn't asked to sign a new contract until after about 5 months when I asked to cancel the tennis part of my membership, and this was last year. In all honesty I didn't pay much attention to the contract because I was running out the door to work and not even sure I got a copy.

 

Anyhow come to this year being self-employed I was tight on money, and a member of my family passed away so I wasn't using the gym for like six weeks so things were tough and I thought i would cancel my membership and maybe re-join later in the year while seeing how things developed at work. So I wrote my letter and cancelled my direct debit at the same time on the 24th May.

 

So on the the 29th June I receive an email as shown below which you can see from my reply I am not happy about as for one month to pass and be threading to pass it to a debt collecting agency is ridiculous, and to tell me my cancellation is on the 6th June when the letter sent was dated the 24th May I just don't understand.

 

You can see from my reply I asked to see a copy of the contract that I had signed.

 

They sent me a threatening email but then fail to bother to even return my email, and then to make matters worse I now have a letter through my door from ARC credit management telling me I owe £238.47. I haven't used any of their services since probably the end of march since I last visited the gym.

 

I hope this isn't the case as this year is proving to be difficult.

 

They haven't responded to my request for a copy of the contract and they have passed this to a credit agency, if there was any thought of re-joining the gym later in the year it has all but disappeared. I understand running a business you have to manage accounts and cash flow, but the way they have gone about this is downright rude in my opinion.

 

Apologies for the outburst, but I am hoping someone can give some advice on the best steps forward.

 

Thanks for your time.

 

 

 

 

Dear

 

As a previous member of esporta I asked to cancel my tennis membership and was asked to sign a new contract, at which point no one explained that I was required to give 3 months notice.

 

I actually wrote the letter to cancel my membership on the 24th May the same day I cancelled the direct debit with my bank, and have not visited the club or used any of you services since that date, so I think you need to review your records and date of cancellation.

 

Please send me a copy of your contract for me to review. I would also like to point out no one has left a message for me on my answerphone, but I am in receipt of your letter dated the 19th June and was due to reply by asking for a copy of the contract.

 

Please forward it to me and I will pay any membership fee's that are legally due.

 

In the meantime I do not appreciate you threatening to pass this over to a debt collection agency in respect of the short time that has passed since I cancelled my membership.

 

You should reconsider these threats when as I have said no one has left a message for me to contact them, I have not visited the club since regarding the arrears, and take into account and consider what image this portrays of the Virgin Active brand.

 

I look forward to receiving a copy of the contract.

 

Regards

 

From:

To:

CC:

Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2012 17:53:04 +0100

Subject: Outstanding payment £69.49

 

 

Dear

 

I am writing to you with regards to an outstanding payment on your membership as I have been unable to make contact with you via telephone.

 

I can see you sent your cancellation in on 6th June and your membership requires you to give 3 full calendar months notice which means your membership is set to cancel on 01.09.12. Our records show that the direct debit for your membership was cancelled on 24th May 2012 which means we are unable to collect June, July and Augusts membership fees.

 

Can you please contact the club as soon as you get this message and arrange to make a payment by card over the phone or by visiting the club. If we have not received payment for the outstanding fees of £69.49 by 5pm tomorrow, the debt will automatically get passed over to ARC - a debt collecting company, and further charges will be applied.

 

You can contact myself or my manager, Lyn Worraker on 01733 892289.

 

Regards,

 

 

 

 

, Members Relations Assistant - Thorpe Wood

VIRGIN ACTIVE THORPE WOOD HEALTH AND RACQUETS CLUBS

Telephone: 01733 892289

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Hi Dega,

 

We need some more info about this:-

 

1. When did you join Esporta.

 

2. What was the minimum m/ship period you agreed to.

 

3. When were you asked to sign a new Virgin agreement.

 

4. Do you know if there was a minimum m/ship period for the new agreement or were you just bound by the requirement to give 3 month's notice to cancel.

 

Ignore the demands from ARC for now.

 

They'll threaten to add admin charges but such charges are penalties and are not enforceable in law.

 

They may threaten court action but this is a long way off and is most unlikely.

 

Read other threads here to see the problems that others are dealing with from gyms, their admin companies and their debt collection monkeys.

 

:-)

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Hi Slick

 

Thanks for your reply.

 

I originally joined Esporta I think in December 2009.

 

I think it was just a monthly membership plan I would have to try and find the agreement.

 

I was asked to sign a new Virgin Agreement I think around this time last year only when I asked for them to remove my tennis membership from my subscription, so I wouldn't carry on paying a higher fee. This was some months after Virgin took over the club.

 

I know this sounds stupid but I don't know what I signed up to the lady just said you need to sign this new form the monthly payments are x, and please sign this direct debit.

 

This is why I have requested a copy of my contract because as far as I am aware I didn't walk out the door with one, and would like to see the date it was signed.

 

I suppose I could check to see when that direct debit became active at my bank.

 

I have read some other posts now, but if I have signed a contract for a minimum of 12 months with a 3 month cancellation period is this enforceable by law? I saw a thread where there has been a court ruling or something to say that in this period of "austerity" it isn't really acceptable to force people to sign these types of contracts.

 

Financially things are tight for me and I do not need this debt right now, and the truth is I haven't visited their gym since April which they would have record of. So If I haven't continue to use a service from them why should I have to pay?

 

I could understand a months notice as you would if you were renting or resigning from employment but 3 months in my opinion is not justified and nor are there heavy tactics.

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Hi Dega and thanks for the extra info.

 

It really doesn't matter whether you used the gym or not. This is irrelevant to your case, so forget that aspect of it.

 

I'm sure you now realise that you should have looked closely at whatever the lady asked you to sign. It sounds like they signed you up for a new 12 month contract that included the 3 months notice requirement.

 

However, from what you and they say, you must be past the 12 month period and now they "just" want the 3 month's notice money.

 

This is where I think the High Court ruling in the case of The OFT -v- Ashbourne Mgt Services Ltd may help you. In his ruling, Mr Justice Kitchin said it was not reasonable for a gym company to hold you to an agreement that ties you in for more than 12 months - http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?320766-Ashbourne-Management-Services-Ltd-Contracts-longer-than-12-months

 

I think you can argue that the effect of the new 12 month + '3 month's notice' agreement is unfair to you as a consumer (and beneficial to the gym).

 

If I'm right about the timing and you were past 12 months into the new contract, I suggest you write to Virgin saying :-

 

Dear sir or madam,

 

I wrote to you on 24th May 2012 cancelling my membership.

 

The amount you are demanding from me (for 3 month's notice) is unfair to me as a consumer and this was made clear in the High Court ruling by Mr Justice Kitchin against Ashbourne Management Services Ltd in August 2011.

 

In his ruling, the judge suggested a month's fee was reasonable compensation for cancelling a gym contract, which tied a member to a contract for more than 12 month. Your new contract that I was told to sign in 2011 effectively tied me into a contract of 15 months.

 

Accordingly, I am prepared to offer you one month's fee in full and final settlement of all monies due in respect of any agreement between. This offer is valid for 14 days only and, if you fail to accept my offer within that time, I will withdraw the offer and pay you nothing further.

 

On receipt of your agreement to my offer, I will arrange to pay the final amount to conclude all business between us.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

See what they say in response.

 

:wink:

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Looks like the OP didn't read his Esporta or his Virgin contracts. This is stupid. I am a member of Virgin and know what I have signed.

 

Initially he needs to establish the notice period he signed up to. Some contracts do have the three month clause.

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Hi Artmo,

 

Most folk will have been guilty at some stage of signing something without reading it through properly but there's no need to be offensive in your reply.

 

Gym staff may well have made it sound like it was just a formality without alerting Dega to the fact that a new 12 + 3 month contract was involved.

 

Gym staff are so incentivised by commission to sign up members, they are willing to do so dishonestly with no regard to the consequences for the signing member.

 

:wink:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Slick

 

Thanks for you replies, and Artmo it's your right to have an opnion of me without even knowing me that's fine.

 

So I had ARC phone me last week chasing the debt, and I explained to them I had written a letter to Virgin's head office disputing my contract as I hadn't a copy on file. The gentleman I spoke to said he could get this organised for me and the next day I received a telephone call from a lady who works at my local gym, and she emailed me through a copy of a contract. I say a contract because it was the original contract I had signed with Esporta in November of 2008 tying me into a 12 min contract period and termination of 3 months notice. It does say shorter notice periods may be considered.

 

I had posted the letter to Virgin a few days earlier basically saying what you had suggested slick

 

I recently received an email from ****, Members Relations Assistant at *** please see emails below.

I have not had a reply to my email, but have received a request for payment from ARC and therefore I am contacting you directly. I would still like a copy of the contract I have signed.

I wrote to you on 24th May 2012 cancelling my membership.

 

The amount you are demanding from me (for 3 month's notice) is unfair to me as a consumer and this was made clear in the High Court ruling by Mr Justice Kitchin against Ashbourne Management Services Ltd in August 2011.

 

In his ruling, the judge suggested a month's fee was reasonable compensation for cancelling a gym contract, which tied a member to a contract for more than 12 month. Your new contract that I was told to sign in 2011 effectively tied me into a contract of 15 months when all I wanted to do was take the tennis option from my existing membership. I was not asked to sign a new contract when you took over the gym so why after some months was I forced into a new term when all I wanted to do was ammend my existing membership with you. I consider this unfair.

Accordingly, I am prepared to offer you one month's fee in full and final settlement of all monies due in respect of any agreement between. This offer is valid for 14 days only and, if you fail to accept my offer within that time, I will withdraw the offer and pay you nothing further.

 

On receipt of your agreement to my offer, I will arrange to pay the final amount to conclude all business between us.

 

In light of the fact I presume that they cannot produce to me a new contract that I had signed, and the recent high court ruling, do you think I should be ok with my offer then to pay them a months fee?

 

Thanks for all your assistance, really appreciated.

 

I will update the post in time to let everyone know the conclusion.

 

Thanks

 

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If they fail to agree to your offer to pay one month's fee as compensation within 14 days of your offer, let them stew.

 

Keep us updated.

 

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  • 3 months later...
Hi Slick

 

Thanks for you replies, and Artmo it's your right to have an opnion of me without even knowing me that's fine.

 

So I had ARC phone me last week chasing the debt, and I explained to them I had written a letter to Virgin's head office disputing my contract as I hadn't a copy on file. The gentleman I spoke to said he could get this organised for me and the next day I received a telephone call from a lady who works at my local gym, and she emailed me through a copy of a contract. I say a contract because it was the original contract I had signed with Esporta in November of 2008 tying me into a 12 min contract period and termination of 3 months notice. It does say shorter notice periods may be considered.

 

I had posted the letter to Virgin a few days earlier basically saying what you had suggested slick

 

I recently received an email from ****, Members Relations Assistant at *** please see emails below.

I have not had a reply to my email, but have received a request for payment from ARC and therefore I am contacting you directly. I would still like a copy of the contract I have signed.

I wrote to you on 24th May 2012 cancelling my membership.

 

The amount you are demanding from me (for 3 month's notice) is unfair to me as a consumer and this was made clear in the High Court ruling by Mr Justice Kitchin against Ashbourne Management Services Ltd in August 2011.

 

In his ruling, the judge suggested a month's fee was reasonable compensation for cancelling a gym contract, which tied a member to a contract for more than 12 month. Your new contract that I was told to sign in 2011 effectively tied me into a contract of 15 months when all I wanted to do was take the tennis option from my existing membership. I was not asked to sign a new contract when you took over the gym so why after some months was I forced into a new term when all I wanted to do was ammend my existing membership with you. I consider this unfair.

Accordingly, I am prepared to offer you one month's fee in full and final settlement of all monies due in respect of any agreement between. This offer is valid for 14 days only and, if you fail to accept my offer within that time, I will withdraw the offer and pay you nothing further.

 

On receipt of your agreement to my offer, I will arrange to pay the final amount to conclude all business between us.

 

In light of the fact I presume that they cannot produce to me a new contract that I had signed, and the recent high court ruling, do you think I should be ok with my offer then to pay them a months fee?

 

Thanks for all your assistance, really appreciated.

 

I will update the post in time to let everyone know the conclusion.

 

Thanks

 

Hi

I fully understand where you are at with this. Firstly ignore the rude comments from others regarding you not read the contract etc. TBH who does? ARC just keep off the telephone with them. keep all communication in writing. Dont be bullied by the debt company. Also ask them to stop calling you or you will report them to the OFT. Have you sorted this out yet or is it still going on? Howard

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Hi Dega,

 

Any update on this ?

 

:wink:

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