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Doctors letter and Harlands

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I signed up for a gym with a 3 year contract (dumb I know!).

 

I had a back problem and was hoping this gym could help me as they 'claimed' they had a therapy pool.

 

Ive been unhappy with the gym, equipment out of order for long periods of time, its smells unsanitised and the pool is definitely not as warm as it used to be.

 

Since then, my back problem has progressed and Im now having problems with my leg and foot which is making walking painful.

 

Im seeing a physio, podiatrist etc.. and during a chat with my doctor, he said he would be happy to provide a letter to cancel my gym membership.

 

Im trying to find my contract but Im sure it said i could cancel on the basis of moving out of the area, redundancy or a doctors letter.

 

Does anyone know how Harlands deal with this or will they be slippery customers

and try to demand extra money from me (even though I havent used the gym in 5 months now due to my medical issues?)

Thanks!

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Hi Lisa and welcome to CAG

 

Can you confirm what gym this concerns.

 

When did you join the gym.

 

As regards them being "slippery", Harlands tend to deny any attempt to cancel a gym agreement, regardless of the circumstances.

 

You either need to find the agreement you signed or get a copy of it from Harlands.

 

With a 3 year m/ship agreement, it may well be unenforceable but this depends on the T&C's of the agreement and also on when the agree't was set up.

 

Let us have some answers and we'll be able to advise you further.

 

:wink:


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Hi Lisa

I signed up for a 3 year contract too at a "Feel good fitness" gym, harlands take the direct debit and I couldn't get out of it, reading my contract now you have to have been made redundant, moved so many miles from the gym (with proof that a bill is going to new address), prove facilities aren't as promised, or be pregnant.

 

I am still paying for the gym but don't use it, stuck with them :(

 

Good luck, sorry about the delay i saw this thread at lunchtime on twitter, had to sign in at home because I forgot my password.

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Hi Sianyboo,

 

If you start your own thread about your 3 year gym m/ship, we may well be able to help you.

 

Have you read this - http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?320766-Ashbourne-Management-Services-Ltd-Contracts-longer-than-12-months

 

Don't discuss it any further here, so we don't hijack Lisa's thread.

 

:wink:


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Hi, sorry it has taken so long to respond. I have hunted out my contract.

 

Firstly gym is called Miracles (its a womens only independent gym in Hampshire). I have a carbon copy of the contract, although the bits I filled out are very faint. It was started in Oct 2011 and its for a 36 month membership (although this is scored out and 34 written). On the back of this carbon copy, it states the following:

CANCELLATION:

Relocation: This agreement can be cancelled in the even that your new permanent address is more than 15 miles away from the facility upon receipt of a copy utility bill or bank statement showing the new address.

Permanent Illness or Injury: this agreement may be cancelled in the event of permanent illness, injury or medical condition upon appropriate from a doctor or other suitably qualified medical practitioner.

Redundancy: This agreement can be cancelled upon appropriate proof of redundancy from your employer or other loss of livelihood. Please note - any cancellation for the above reasons will not be effected until the appropriate proof is provided and received

 

There is also an additional piece of paper provided titled: Harlands Group Fair Gym Membership Cancellation Policies. Acceptable reasons for early cancellation of your gym contract:

1. Relocation - if you move than 15 miles (distance calculated by shortest road distance on Google Maps) from the gym and provide two items of new address proof, (contact Harlands if you are unsure whether your proof will be acceptable or not) you will be able to cancel your gym membership early

2. Medical reasons - Should you be unfortunate enough to experience medical issues, then dependent on the severity of your issues, we will either allow a payment freeze, or early cancellation. Medical proof (for example a GP or consultants statement) will be required.

3. redundancy - On provisions of a confirmation of redundancy letter from your former employer, we will allow an initial payment freeze for up to a 3 month period, followed by cancellation if you haven't found employment after this period.

 

 

In addition to this cancellation info I have found, it also has the following on the carbon copy of the contract I signed (in minute writing might I add!):

Important - Your Cancellation Rights:

By Selecting a Membership type, you are agreeing to the 'minimum number of direct debit payments' specified. If you wish to cancel prior to the 'minimum number of direct debit payments' being completed (for any other reasons than those listed in the cancellation terms on the reverse of this agreement) and:

1. You have selected a membership type of 12 months or less, you will be required to pay any remaining balance for the remainder of your membership type contracted term; OR

2. You have selected a membership type of 12 months or more, you will be required to pay: (i) any remaining instalments for the first 12 month period (if you have completed less than 12 payments at the time you cancel); AND (ii) a cancellation fee of £15 ( which we require to cover our costs in processing your early cancellation); AND (iii) whichever is the lower of:

a. a sum equal to the difference between the most expensive monthly cost option shown above and the monthly cost for your membership type, for each month that you have been a member (but if you have been a member for under 12 months, the sum will be calculated based on a minimum 12 month period); OR

b. a sum equal to the remaining balance for your chosen membership type contracted period.

Example (for illustration purposes only): You choose a 36 month contract at 20 per month, the highest price shown is £30 per month, and you wish to cancel after 10 monthly instalments have both been due and paid. You would be required to pay (i)2 further instalments at your current 36 monthly price (2 x £20); AND (ii) the difference between the highest monthly membership price indicated above and your 36 month contract price for each of the 12 months minimum period (12 x £10) AND (iii) a £15 cancellation fee. Total payable in this example =(i) + (ii) + (iii) = £175

 

 

Now here is the cruncher, I pay £25 per month and it looks like (as its been written in and is very faint) the highest is £45 per month!! It looks like I had initialled next to this but I clearly remember that she said to me that it was to verify that I had been made aware of the non contract cost, she most certainly did not say that this was to acknowledge that if I cancelled, I would have to pay a difference of £20 per month!!!

 

I'm still waiting for the doctors letter but will add this info when I get it.

 

Thanks

 

Lisa

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Hi Lisa,

 

Although I don't know of any case that has "tested" the validity of this type of 3 year agreement, I suspect that Harlands would not want to take any such case to court after the High Court ruling against AMSL in 2011.

 

The agreement is weighed against you and in favour of the gym with the increased monthly fee rising from £25 to £45 per month if you cancel in the first year.

 

Your easiest route is certainly to supply a doctor's note asap confirming that, due to personal medical conditions, you are advised not to continue with your gym m/ship. Harlands are likely to contest this action in any event, giving some reason or other for denying the cancellation.

 

But you may decide to cancel your DD mandate now anyway, and deal with whatever arguments that come back from Harlands.

 

If you choose to do this, simply write to Harlands saying:-

 

Dear sir or madam,

 

Membership at Miracles Gym, Hampshire

 

I now realise the 3 year membership agreement is likely to be unenforceable due to the T&C's being unfavourable to me as a consumer.

 

Furthermore, I am advised by my GP against continuing use of the gym due to personal medical conditions.

 

Accordingly, I give you 30 days notice to cancel which Mr Justice Kitchin suggested as fair in his ruling about Ashbourne Mgt Service Ltd in 2011.

 

After the next DD payment is made by my bank, the DD mandate will be cancelled.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

:-D


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Hi, just to provide an update, I now have my doctors letter. I must admit it is a bit wishy washy and dont think it conveys the severity of my issues. It says 'who is suffering from ongoing back and foot problems for which she is under the physiotherapist. She is unable to use her gym subscriptions due to these problems and would appreciate your assistance in stopping her subscription'.

In truth, I know Harlands will still try to get money from me and probably challenge the severity of my problems but as my husband has said, they have no right to access my medical info or demand any form of evidence. I just want to ensure my first letter to them is very carefully and strongly worded as I have spent almost a year on gym subscription that I have been unable to use as my medical issues have progressively got worse.

 

Thanks

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Hi Lisa,

 

The letter is a bit weak but I suspect Harlands would challenge whatever your GP says anyway.

 

Send the letter exactly as I drafted above but add to the 2nd paragraph, "and I enclose my GP's letter confirming this."

 

Let us know how Harlands respond.

 

:-D


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Hi, I sent the letter over 2 weeks ago now. Since then, another payment has gone out so as per my letter I should be able to cancel the DD now. But I have not received a response from Harlands. I have their phone number but am wary to call them as I would prefer it all in writing.

 

Any advice as to what step I should take now?

 

Thanks

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Hi Lisa,

 

You told them WHAT you were going to do, and now is the time to DO it.

 

Do not phone anyone and, if they call you, tell them "In writing only !" and hang up.

 

You don't need to have Harland's response or their agreement to your views. They are just an admin company and they have no power or authority.

 

Cancel the DD mandate direct with your bank.

 

That's all you need do for now, and let us know what you hear next.

 

:-)

Edited by slick132

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Ive received a letter back from Harlands. nothing about me cancelling my policy or the doctors letter just a letter to say they have been advised my DD has been cancelled and to call them immediately. If I do not call them by 7 Mar, I will be charged an admin fee.

 

What should I do now? should I call them - or resend my letter?

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ok, I called the gym and explained and they said they were happy to cancel if I had a doctors letter but best call Harlands first. So I called Harlands - spent 10 mins waiting to speak to someone and a further 10 mins whilst he tried to find my letter! They are now picking apart my doctors letter and are sending out medical forms that my doctor has to complete - to prove that this injury occurred during the contract (which technically the original injury was before - but I only just found out that the new problems I have been having are as a result of this old injury) and also to get verification from the doctor this is a permanent and not temporary injury. There is no mention of this in the contract and Im not comfortable asking my doctor to complete a questionnaire or for some random finance company to know about the details of my injury.

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Hi Lisa,

 

My advice in post #10 above was clear - do NOT phone anyone !

 

Speaking to the gym will get you nowhere. Nothing they say will affect your dispute with Harlands.

 

Harlands have no authority or right to question you about the doctors letter. Don't call them and then they won't have the chance to pick apart the contents of the GP letter.

 

Your letter in post #6 told Harlands all they need to know and you have no need to speak to them further.

 

They'll continue to write and make further demands but there's very little they can, or will, do !

 

You need do no more apart from feel confident enough to ignore the demands and stop calling them.

 

If you're not sure what to do about any communication from Harlands (or CRS when they start chasing you), post here and wait for out response.

 

CRS will start chasing but they are just the same staff using a different name so you'll ignore them in just the same way, no matter what empty threats they make.

 

:-)


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Hi thanks for the advice. Just one question though, if I ignore their letters and calls and basically wait it out, will this affect my credit rating? Im planning on taking out a loan later this year/early next year.

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I got the letter and medical questionnaire through from Harlands and am seething! Its a very detailed questionnaire and Im really not comfortable sharing that level of information with total strangers who are not from the medical profession (and if they are like the person I spoke to on the phone, basically snotty kids!). The letter also says I must complete every answer before they can thoroughly review my case and give me their final decision!! With my back problem, there has been no definitive dates and its caused a knock on effect to other problems I have had - but thats all aside fromt he fact I believe they have no right whatsoever to ask for this information.

So Im going to send them a very strongly worded letter. I have a copy of the OFT judgement against Ashbourne Management, also Im going to look into Data Privacy as I believe they have no right to ask for this information from me. Also I have provided the proof as stated in their 'fair gym cancellation policy' which is a gp statement. Furthermore, they requested I also send them a cheque for £25 to cancel. I have checked my contract and the cancellation fee is only £15 - but also, that is only for early cancellation (aside from the reasons accepted for cancellation - which includes medical reasons).

 

Does it sound like Im going down the right route? I'll let you know what the letter says before I send it.

 

Thanks

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Hi Lisa,

 

Please don't "seeth" about the questionnaire from Harlands. They have no authority to demand any such info from you and you have absolutely no need to supply it.

 

I think your letter need not go into the detail you're suggesting and my response would be :-

 

Dear sir or madam,

 

I refer to your letter of xxdate enclosing a medical questionnaire.

 

I have neither the need nor the desire to furnish you with any further personal medical information.

 

If you feel unable to cancel the gym agreement on medical grounds, I suggest you do so on the basis that the agreement was for 36 months.

 

I have already told you that such an agreement will be considered to be unfair to me as a consumer following the AMSL High Court ruling in 2011.

 

Please confirm that my membership has been cancelled.

 

If you continue to make demands for payment under the guise of Harlands or CRS, I will make a formal complaint to The OFT about your conduct.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

See how they respond.

 

:-)


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Hi, thanks for the advice - just one thing though - I noticed on the contract that it was for 36 months but it was scored out and they put 34. Does that make any difference?

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Hi

 

@ slick132 I wonder if its worth adding to your letter for lisa:

 

"I have neither the need nor the desire to furnish you with any further personal medical information also there is no provision for such information within your own Terms & Conditions".

 

just a suggestions.

Edited by stu007

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Hi Lisa,

 

Was it 34 months AFTER you'd paid the first month or two when joining. In any event, it is still way more than the 12 months limit suggested by Mr Justice Kitchin in the AMSL ruling. Adjust your reply to reflect whatever you believe was the period was.

 

 

@ Stu007 - I feel disinclined to argue the toss over this with Harlands as the contract length is the more important argument in Lisa's favour.

 

:-)


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Hi Lisa,

 

Was it 34 months AFTER you'd paid the first month or two when joining. In any event, it is still way more than the 12 months limit suggested by Mr Justice Kitchin in the AMSL ruling. Adjust your reply to reflect whatever you believe was the period was.

 

:-)

 

It has on the contract 'Minimum number of direct debit monthly payments' under this there is a list of contracts, my one is the montly cost filled in next to he 36 month but the 36 has been scored out and replaced with 34. The initial set up letter I got from Harlands says the first payment will be taken out in Nov 11 and continue until Aug 14. So that is 34 months - which seems odd, so that is why I wanted to check if there would be any reason for it. But as you said, as long as its over 12 months, its excessive.

 

Thanks

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Hi

 

@ slick132 I wonder if its worth adding to your letter for lisa:

 

"I have neither the need nor the desire to furnish you with any further personal medical information also there is no provision for such information within your own Terms & Conditions".

 

just a suggestions.

 

Hi Stu, as per slicks mail, I am focusing on the contract length as per the OFT backing in the case against AML. But I am also going to refer to the fiar gym poilcy and T&Cs - just to make it clear to them that I have a copy of my contract.

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Hi Lisa,

 

Was it 34 months AFTER you'd paid the first month or two when joining. In any event, it is still way more than the 12 months limit suggestejd by Mr Justice Kitchin in the AMSL ruling. Adjust your reply to reflect whatever you believe was the period was.

 

 

@ Stu007 - I feel disinclined to argue the toss over this with Harlands as the contract length is the more important argument in Lisa's favour.

 

Hi

34 months contract means that the initial payment made on the day the contract was signed included the 1st and last month payments of your 36 month contract.

Edited by slick132

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Hi Anytah and welcome to CAG

 

I don't quite get what you're saying but, in this case, the important part is that the contract is for way longer than 12 months..

 

:-)

Edited by slick132

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Hi, I have received the following response from Harlands:

 

We would like to advise that a doctors letter is acceptable should it answer the questions that are asked in our Accident and Sickness Form. We have these forms as the questions asked are what we deem as appropriate in order to review any cancellation accurately. When a contract is signed it becomes legally binding, therefore, you can appreciate there are certain protocols that need to be followed in order to terminate this.

The letter your GP provided was not deemed appropriate, therefore, we sent and Accident and Sickness Form as we required further information in order to review your request. We are prepared to review every members case individually, but we require a certain amount of information to do this, we reviewed your doctors letter carefully, however, we required additional information.

 

We apologise that the cancellation fee amount stated was incorrect, this has been rectified on your account to the correct £15.

 

In reference to your comments about the High Court case brought by the Office of Fair Trading against Ashbourne Management on 02 March 2011, we would like to confirm that Ashbourne was taken to court over the way they enforced membership agreements, the court case was not about the agreements themselves. Harlands does not act in the same way as Ashbourne does.

 

Ashbournes membership agreements were reviewed at the High Courts and it was commented that a "Fair Cancellation policy" should be added due to the length of the contract. We would like to confirm that Harlands offer a fair cancellation policy across all membership agreements over 12 months. We would also like to point out that it was not Harlands that were taken to court, therefore your comments have no relevance in regards to your request for cancellation.

 

please note that your membership is now in arrears, failure to make this payment by XXXXXXX wil result in admin charges being incurred and action being taken to reciver the balance owed.

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so how should I respond to this? they said that the contract once signed is legally binding - which I agree with. But that contract T&Cs and the fair gym cancellation policy clearly state that in order to cancel on medical grounds, that "Medical proof (for example a GP or consultants statement) will be required". There is no mention in there of contacting Harlands first to request an Accident & Sickness request form which will then be reviewed for THEM to decide what is the severity of my condition. Funnily enough on the relocation clause, it does say 2 items of proof of address are required and if you are unsure, contact Harlands first to see if they are deemed suitable. I had to pay £25 for that GP statement and I was on the phone when they read it and its all because they were picking on the word 'ongoing' about my medical condition. Im not going to pay another £25 and have the GP complete a 2 page questionnaire when, frankly some of the questions I think are very much worded to suit them. I also think that some of the level of detail required of my medical condition is non of their damned business - and do they have a qualified GP to review it? no, its probably some kid sitting at a desk trained to pick out key words from the responses to suit them. To be honest with you, I wouldnt be suprised if, after having my GP provide a letter, he would refuse to fill out this 2 page questionnaire. If you can please advise what i can do next with this, my husband is being very supportive as he thinks they are being very unreasonable and causing me additional unnecessary stress.

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