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LA Fitness / Arc Europe problems

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Hello all.

 

I signed up to LA fitness October 2011 on a 12 month student off peak contract to which I was told at the time was 12 months contract ONLY as it was a student membership as I was paying a discounted amount .

I proceeded to cancelling my membership via direct debit after they had taken the last payment(i think) in September 2012 as i had then finished university and moved out of the area.

 

3/4 months later I have today received a call from ARC Europe stating that I owe them £59 to pay today but something about owing 100 and something in total. When I questioned the man about why 59 today but 100 something overall he was waffling and not making much sense and about fees? or offering me a logical explanation and only seemed to be currently after the £59. He was rather aggressive in pursuing this money and very firm and didn't even offer a goodbye before he put the phone down.

 

They said they had sent correspondence to the address I had given at the time of signing up but I have obviously not been receiving these as no longer live there. When I asked why they hadn't contacted me by phone or email sooner they did not offer a reason and kept asking for my new address in order for them to send the proof ( i told them i didn't believe them) of it which I declined to provide as I do not currently have a permanent fixed address and kept asking them to email me the details which he kept refusing.

 

I have gone through my emails and found that I signed the electronic copies of the contract on a 12 month agreement stating the overall value of the contract for the 12 months which I think I have paid in full via my direct debit each month. I have now read that I had to give a months notice which I now know I didn't so is partly my fault but I just assumed it was a 12 month contract as I was told that and just assumed all I had to do was terminate my DD at the end of the agreement.

I do however think all these extra costs as a result are unjustified and unfair. I would happily pay an extra month (19.99) as the one months notice I didn't provide.

 

Also I have read suggestions that I should not correspond with ARC via telephone and use letters but as I do not have a permanent address is there any other way of doing so like emailing which I am able to do?

 

I am now in the position where I feel very upset and distressed as I am currently unemployed and cannot afford to pay all this money and do not want any problems with my credit score rating etc.

Is there any advice you can offer me please in order to help rectify the problem? or am I going to be bullied into paying the debt collection agency this money? If so would they let me pay the £59 or do they want over £100? I would happily make a donation to the site as would rather the money go to a good cause like this rather than con artists like LA fitness and ARC Europe.

 

kind regards

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Hi Analouise and welcome to CAG

 

If you read other threads here, you will see the problems that so many folk have with their gyms when it comes to cancelling.

 

Also, see this thread about the case of The OFT v AMSL, you will learn more about issues that are specifically relevant to your own case - http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?320766-Ashbourne-Management-Services-Ltd-Contracts-longer-than-12-months

 

In his ruling against AMSL in 2011, Mr Justice Kitchen said that m/ship could be cancelled in various ways, eg :-

 

1. By word to gym staff or the gym Mgt Co staff (telling the gym face to face or by phone).

 

2. By writing (letter, email or fax).

 

3. By your conduct (cancelling your DD mandate).

 

The Penal Order against AMSL sets out the judge's ruling and Para. 16(ii) here confirms what I refer to - http://www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/consumer-enforcement/ams/order.pdf

 

So all this means that, when you cancelled your DD mandate, that gave the gym adequate warning of your intention to cancel. However, as you failed to give a month's notice to the gym of the cancellation, you can now offer them one month's fee as reasonable compensation.

 

You'll find letters on other threads that I've drafted offering to pay the month's fee but for 14 days only, after which the offer is withdrawn.

 

If you can't find one, I'll post a link to one later.

 

Finally, please be assured that the demands for any Admin Fees are nonsense. These are demands for "unliquidated damages" or penalties and, as such, they are unlawful and should be ignored.

 

Your letter should be addressed to LAF's Head Office and send by Recorded Delivery.

 

Ignore ARC entirely.

 

:wink:


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Hello slick,

 

Thank you very much for your response, I feel much better and reassured after reading your response.

 

How should I ask them to reply to my correspondence as I do not have a permanent address at the moment? And if they accept how do the take the payment off me?

 

Kind regards

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Hi AL,

 

Re the draft letter you sent me by PM, it's fine apart from the item I mentioned. Please copy the final letter here so all can see how you're handling this.

 

Give the gym your email address for their reply, confirming that you have no fixed mail address right now.

 

If they accept your offer to pay, you can send it by cheque, Postal Order or pay in cash at the gym. Whichever option, you'll enclose a letter confirming that your payment is in full and final settlement of all sums due to the gym and/or ARC Europe. If you pay at the gym, you'll get them to sign a copy of your letter to confirm receipt of the cash.

 

:wink:


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Hi Slick

 

Again thanks for your response and advice. I shall draft up the final and post it on here hopefully tomorrow.

 

Kind regards

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Hi AL,

 

In response to your PM, they are not likely to agree to accept your offer to pay one month's fee to settle the matter.

 

However, that will be their problem.

 

It's very unlikely that you'll need to take any court action about this matter. Nor are they likely to take any court action against you.

 

:wink:


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so whats gna happen if they do decline it?? i dont want my name blacklisted or my credit rating to be affected or anything? this is all such a nightmare what a hassle! =(

 

also letter as promised

 

[color="red"

]Dear sir or madam,

 

I refer to a telephone call received from ARC Europe on 14/01/13 demanding payments in respect to my membership at LA Fitness in ...., which started in October 2011.

 

Having had no contact or correspondence from yourselves whatsoever regarding this matter it was a shock to have demands for £109 but then at a reduced £59 by ARC Europe yesterday. As these demands include unlawful penalty fees, I will not be paying them.

 

I now feel that it may have been reasonable for me to give one month's notice and pay a fee of £19.99 for the notice period, as suggested by Mr Justice Kitchin in his High Court ruling against Ashbourne Management Services which states ;

“In his ruling against AMSL in 2011, Mr Justice Kitchen said that membership could be cancelled in various ways, eg :-

….

“3. By your conduct (cancelling your DD mandate).” “

 

Accordingly and without prejudice, I now offer you £19.99 being one membership month's fee in full and final settlement of all amounts owed to the gym. If you accept my offer within 14 days, I will pay you and bring an end to this matter.

 

If you fail to respond within 14 days or insist that I pay any more, my offer will be withdrawn and I will not communicate with you further.

 

As I do not currently have a permanent fixed address I would ask that you reply to me via the email address provided at the top of this letter.

 

You can, of course, take court action against me if you wish but it will be vigorously defended. The membership agreement will form a poor basis for any court case and, following the High Court ruling against Ashbourne Management Services concerning cancellation, my chances of successfully defending are excellent.

 

Please ensure that no further demands are issued by you as ARC Europe while the matter is in dispute. Any demands received by me will be referred to the OFT.

 

I await your response.

 

Yours sincerely ,

[/color]

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Hi AL,

 

Couple of minor changes maybe :-

 

I now feel that it may have been reasonable for me to give one month's notice and pay a fee of £19.99 for the notice period, as suggested by Mr Justice Kitchin in his High Court ruling against Ashbourne Management Services Ltd.

 

In his Penal Order against AMSL in 2011, Mr Justice Kitchen said that membership could be cancelled in various ways. At item 16(ii) he said :-

 

"An individual gym member may terminate an agreement by giving a gym club ...... notice by words or conduct ...... by cancellation of a direct debit mandate, or otherwise."

 

Accordingly and without prejudice, I now offer you £19.99 being one membership month's fee in Full and final settlement of all amounts owed to the gym. If you accept my offer within 14 days, I will pay you and bring an end to this matter.

 

If you fail to respond within 14 days or insist that I pay any more, my offer will be withdrawn and I will not communicate with you further.

 

As I do not currently have a permanent fixed address I would ask that you reply to me via the email address provided at the top of this letter.

 

You can, of course, take court action against me if you wish but it will be vigorously defended. The membership agreement will form a poor basis for any court case and, following the High Court ruling against Ashbourne Management Services concerning cancellation, my chances of successfully defending are excellent.

 

Please ensure that no further demands are issued by you and/or ARC Europe while the matter is in dispute. Any demands received by me will be referred to the OFT.

 

Please don't fret about this. That's exactly what ARC want because that's how they get uninformed, frightened folk to pay them.

 

Even though the gym's unlikely to accept your offer, they and/or ARC are highly unlikely to default you, take court action or anything else that would damage your credit rating.

 

See what happens next and we'll be here to help.

 

:wink:


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Hi Slick,

 

thanks for the help with final touches, have modified and will post recorded delivery first thing tomorrow morning.

Shall keep you updated and let you know when i hear back from them.

 

Im very grateful again so thank you

 

AL

:)

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hello slick

 

I have received an email response from a member of the LA fitness member support team stating that they tried to contact me 4 times via mail before they passed on my details to arc europe. They said my current arrears stand at around £110 however they will accept 40 to settle the account if payment made within 14 days. I am tempted to make a trip back to my old address just to see if this is the case and there is mail for me!!

 

[i ]Please accept my sincerest apologies for any inconvenience caused, I can assure you this is not our intention. [i][/i][/i]

 

 

Shall i accept this or not?

 

Thanks

Edited by analouise

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Hi Analouise,

 

I would stick to what you've said previously and reply by email like this:-

 

Dear sir or madam,

 

I refer to your email of xxdate.

 

I have already said very clearly why I do not have to pay any membership fees after September 2012, when I cancelled my DD mandate.

 

I have also tried to be reasonable by offering you a month's fee of £19.99 as cancellation notice.

 

You have until 30th January to accept my offer of £19.99, after which it is withdrawn.

 

If ARC make further demands, I will make a formal complaint about you and ARC to the OFT.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

:-D


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Thanks Slick

 

All sent off although i feel slightly bad as their response seemed quite sincere and nice! Cheeky trying to counter offer though!!!

Will keep you updated if they reply :)

 

ta :)

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Yes, their letter was quite pleasant but that's because it was from the gym. Communication from the gym admin co will be far less pleasant.

 

And the gym's lucky you have agreed to honour your offer for a further few days - in your letter, you did say you'd withdraw it if they asked for any more that you offered.

 

However, because they were polite, I (you) decided to give them one final chance to take the £19.99 offered.

 

We shall see.............

 

:wink:


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just received a response from them again, this time not from the lady i replied to but from someone else...

 

 

"Thank you for your response.

 

I would like to confirm that I am unable to differ from the information which my colleague XXX has already provided, all members are required to follow the cancellation procedure explained in the terms and conditions of the agreement. As the correct cancellation procedure was not followed, your membership continued on a monthly basis.

 

As my colleague has explained, the balance which is currently outstanding is owed as no cancellation requested be received. I have noted your previous comments on your account and would like to advise that you will continue to receive correspondence from ARC with regards to the above membership.

 

You have confirmed that you are willing to escalate this matter further, therefore we will await further correspondence from yourself. "

 

what now???

 

Thank you!

:)

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Hi AL,

 

Please confirm, is this from the gym.

 

No need to reply to this as you have said all you need to say. Clearly, they feel the High Court Judge, Mr Justice Kitchin, is wrong in his ruling on the AMSL case !!

 

They had until today to accept your offer so now they'll receive nothing.

 

ARC will come back with demands. We'll advise what to do when this happens but I will probably suggest you reply to their first demand and mostly ignore after that.

 

You may find this a bit scary but please remember these people have absolutely no power or authority.And we're here to help and support you ! :wink:

 

:-D


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hi slick

 

yes the response was from LA Fitness.

 

shall i ignore the

"You have confirmed that you are willing to escalate this matter further, therefore we will await further correspondence from yourself"?

 

and oh the joys of ARC!!

 

They are not going get anything out of me now, surely an offer was better for them to accept than nothing? Silly people!!!

 

thanks again for all your help and support.

 

I shall let you know when i start recieving details from ARC again! :)

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Hi AL,

 

Yes, ignore completely for now, until the lovely ARC start with their Snot-o-Grams.

 

One thing concerns me - if they have no current address, they could use the last one they had for you for sending demands and even (highly unlikely) court papers. If you didn't know a claim was filed against you, you couldn't defend and they could end up with a CCJ issued in default of your response.

 

So it may be an idea to give them a new address. Is that possible ?

 

Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

 

:-D


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when you say "they have no address" do you mean ARC or LAF?

 

They obviously know i haven't as correspondence has been via email but do you think thats a wise idea?

I am going to pop by that old address in a couple of weeks to actually see if they have been and to pick up any mail. If worse comes to worse i could ask the tenants to inform me if any mail does come in my name again? I dont think they would mind?

 

And how do CCJ's work? could they not issue one at a current address anyways? and what would happen if they do at that address? i dont really know much about that sort of stuff??

 

:)

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I mean both LAF and ARC.

 

I must reiterate that none of the gym admin companies use the courts as a rule.

 

However, it would be better if you supply a current address (a friend or relative maybe) so you can keep an eye on all letters.

 

The risk is that, if they know you have no current address, court action filed at the old one would be uncontested. And once you found out about it, it would be more difficult to contest but we'd help you if this happened.

 

:-D


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ok well ill definitely go to old property and check when i visit in a couple of weeks just incase.

Also how should I provide a new address? shall i just wait until i am contacted from them again?

 

:)

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Hi AL,

 

I'd wait until ARC are next in touch.

 

:-D


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Hi Slick

 

Just got a call from ARC asking for 109 again but were willing to take 70 today if i paid. I explained to him the situatuion and told him i made LA Fitness an offer which they declined so now its their problem and not getting any money whatsoever as i have now withdrawn it he put some notes on his system etc, and they said this has now gone to their collections department. I told them anything they have to say to put in writing and gave them an updated address incase they wanted to contact me but they didnt seem to want to send any letters, and did maintain that i was no longer going to pay them anything. He kept telling me that its gone collections department and they may want to prosecute or something? i dont know i was half asleep when the man was trying to speak to me, but he was much more pleasant than the others i have dealt with through ARC.

 

Im assuming you are going to tell me to just ignore this until i get something in writing? :p

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Hi Analouise,

 

Yep, you guessed it - ignore this completely, at least until they put something in writing.

 

Prosecute ?? Are they now the Police ?? Just the usual load of hot air.

 

Keep a log of the time and date of all calls you get from them, in case you need to make a complaint later.

 

And, if they call again, don't bother listening to what they have to say. Tell them to write, or to clear off........... and then simply hang up !!

 

:wink:


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By the way, I'm glad you made your address known to ARC but please confirm this to them by email so you have proof that they have it.

 

The reason for this is made very clear on this thread where a gym admin co used the old address to get a CCJ !! http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?382064-Parkwood-Leisure-please-read-before-you-set-foot-in-one-of-their-clubs!&p=4138236&viewfull=1#post4138236

 

That'll take a lot of sorting and has already caused the victim no end of grief and upset.

 

:wink:


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Hi Slick

 

I have now started a log book so that anytime they contact me i have it written down, thank you

 

also what shall i say in the email

is this good enough?

i dont want to sound like im encouraging them to keep contacting me or anything by giving them an address?

 

To whom it may concern

 

In regards to the conversation I had on the telephone with a colleague of yours today, I am writing to confirm a new address for any further correspondence from yourselves;

 

xxx

xxx

 

 

Kind regards

 

 

Shall i mention this is not a permanent address of mind or anything? and if they have anything else to say to stop calling me but to instead write?

 

This is all such a hassle but thanks for all your ongoing support slick

 

:)

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