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JD Gym/ Harlands supposed to be contract free but unable to cancel!

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Hi, I'm looking for some advice, haven't used the site before but came across it when trying to research.

 

I joined JD gym in December, joining online. The main reason I joined was because it was the only gym in the city that was contract free. The website clearly states several times "No contract- cancel at any time". Because of various referral incentives I persuaded my husband and mother to join also. We were supposed to receive free towels, bags and a PT session. Over the 5 months that I attended I saw the club deteriorate; it took us 4 months to receive the bags and towels as they were out of stock or manager not available and no one else had access to them. We booked in a PT session twice and turned up both times to find the PT could not carry out our session as he'd been left on the floor by himself, there was never any effort to contact us beforehand to avoid a wasted trip. The showers got smellier, the gym got busier, often despite paying a premium for off-peak membership there wouldn't be any treadmills or rowers available for the best part of an hour. My mother and I decided to quit. We spoke to the guy at the desk who gave us a number for Harlands who are responsible for procuring the direct debits.

 

I tried to call them but one of the digits had been incorrect so I called the gym and they gave me an email address for Harlands Customer services. It took 2 emails for them to reply stating that they couldn't find my name on the system and asking me to provide my DOB. I did so, they replied again saying they still couldn't locate me could I send my address which I did. They still couldn't find me so advised me to call their customer services.

 

I called and was cut off the first time, put on hold for 40 minutes the second time and eventually they also couldn't find my details with my full name, address, DOB and start date. They advised me to email customer services detailing my intention to quit and cancel my direct debit, a view shared with several others trying to cancel on JD's facebook page. This was at the beginning of May. This week I received a debt collection letter from Harlands stating that I owe nearly £53 in charges including a "cancellation period charge" and an "admin charge for default of payment".

 

Naturally my mother and I were appalled at this so I called the number on the letter; Harlands Customer Services. The lady was not particularly helpful claiming that I need to email customer services informing them of my intention to cancel. When I read the emails out to her she told me to "tone down my sarcasm or she would have to end the call". I'm not entirely sure whether she thought the responses I was reading from Harlands was sarcastic or the fact that I was disputing the effectiveness of emailing them. She told me that JD gyms had changed their cancellation terms recently and had sent correspondence to all members to inform them of this. Not myself, my husband or my mother have received anything via email, post, text or phone from JD other than fitness updates.

 

She said they were unable to cancel things at their end as it was up to JD so I could either contact them to sort the issue or.... email Harlands Customer Services. I did both. After sending two emails I am still waiting 4 days later for Harlands to reply. JD only replied once I had made a public post on their facebook page about being very disappointed in their customer care and response to cancellation. (Upon looking on the facebook page I can see there have been quite a lot of people who have struggled to cancel as the process is not clear and they get no replies). JD have messaged basically sending me a copy of the generic Harlands T&C's. and stating that I have to give 14 days notice via email if I wish to cancel. This would be entirely fine if they would accept a cancellation but two months on and I am struggling to make any progress and incurring more fees each month. The T&C's are geared towards a contract-based membership and make no mention of contract-free memberships. In fact, to my mind the only contract that should be in place is the direct debit agreement. I can't see how legally you can have no contract with a company and yet be billed for services unused, paid in advance and cancellation periods.

 

Please can anyone advise on this. Thanks in advance.

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sorry for the essay! Wanted to include as many pertinent facts as possible and show options I've already tried!

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Hi Crunchy and welcome to CAG

 

More info please, before we can advise better :-

 

1. Have you checked the gym's online site, or any T&C's you were given, to see what notice period you had to give if you wanted to cancel.

 

2. Approx when did you and YM first tell the gym you wanted to cancel.

 

3. When did you cancel your DD mandate.

 

We have seen other examples of a gym (Xercise4Less) and Harlands making it confusing or difficult about who you contact to cancel.

 

Harlands and CRS (who are Harlands, at the next desk) will tell you that admin charges have been added and the "debt" is increasing. However, we maintain their admin charges are unenforceable penalties that should NOT be paid.

 

Ignore demands from Harlands/CRS for now and do NOT talk to them by phone at all.

 

Give us answers and we'll suggest how you can best proceed.

 

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Thank you Slick. The gyms online site says nothing, others have noted that in the FAQ section there is no info on how to cancel other than saying you can cancel at any time and there is no contract, no catches.

 

The T&Cs mention 30 day cancellation periods for contracts. As my membership is contract-free I'm not sure how this helps. I'll try and attach the T&Cs that they emailed me this afternoon. I've noticed from looking at other posts on here that the T&C's are exactly the same as for all other Harland-involved gyms and contracts. There is nothing specific to the gym and nothing specific to contract-free membership. In fact the gym itself have said I have to give 14 days notice. This isn't mentioned anywhere in the T&Cs. so all seems very unclear and contradictory. I made the last payment to them on 5th May and my mothers payment was around the end of May. The payments are made in advance according to the T&Cs which means we would then be able to use facilities for a further month once payment has been repeated. As it's contract-free we were told in person it means if we choose not to renew then our membership would end the next day.

 

I rang the gym and expressed a wish to cancel membership on 5th May, however I don't have written confirmation of this. I informed Harlands on 12th May via email. They are still claiming to not be able to find my details to cancel and keep passing me back between the phone and email helpdesk. The DD I believe was cancelled after sending the email as payment was due out that day and wasn't sure if I would be able to stop it or not. My mums went out towards the end of the month and she was furious with me as she thought I had cancelled our memberships so I advised her to cancel her DD as by this point we'd sent several emails making it perfectly clear we wished to cancel our contract-free memberships.

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Hi Crunchy,

 

Let's go with the email cancellation of 12th May as you have proof of that.

 

It's not clear from your post if your DD was stopped before the payment was taken or not. So please confirm if the DD was paid in May, or was your last DD paid in April ?

 

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The last payment was taken on 5th May. The letter states they were unable to take June's payment, of £18.99, or cancellation period charge of £18.99 and Admin defaulting payment charge of £15. After speaking to other people on a local forum there seems to be a great deal of inconsistency. At least 5 people have cancelled DD's and had no recourse. One phoned up and told them they wished to cancel, cancelled DD that day and months later are still getting a letter from Harlands which they've ignored as legally they feel there was no contract in place.

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Hi Crunchy,

 

Safest way to go here is to use 12th May as your cancellation date, after which you had to make one further payment during the 30 day notice period.

 

Letter to Harlands :-

 

Dear sir or madam,

 

I refer to my monthly no-contract membership at JD Sports gym in [Town].

 

I told the gym I wanted to cancel on 5th May and emailed Harlands, as suggested by the gym, confirming the cancellation on 12th May.

 

I now realise I should have paid one final fee for the notice period, and offer to pay this to you now. I will not pay you any administration or cancellation fees - these are penalties that are unlawful and unenforceable.

 

If you confirm in writing that you'll accept the amount of £9.99 in settlement of all that I owe, I will pay you promptly. If you fail to accept my offer within 14 days or you demand any other payment, I will pay you nothing and my offer will be withdrawn.

 

I will make formal complaints to Trading Standards and The CMA if you make further demands, or if you pass the matter to any other party to pursue payment.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

In YM's case, she should also have paid a final month's fee after giving notice to Harlands. She can therefore adapt and send a similar letter.

 

Send the 2 letters (not emails) to Harlands and get a free Certificate of Posting from the PO for proof.

 

Let us know how they reply.

 

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Thank you, I'm just a bit confused though as the gym have said I need to give 14 days notice and the Harlands contract is specifically for contract membership, hence it giving only a few scenarios where cancellation would be accepted on the T&Cs. If the gym are correct and the notice period for non-contract membership is 14 days I wouldn't be liable for that final payment would I? Also, would it be £18.99 not £9.99?

 

Thanks

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Hi Crunchy,

 

Regardless of whether the gym told you 14 days or a month's notice was required, you would still owe a further fee. Adapt the letter to show £18.99 if that's what the fee was.

 

Send the letter as it is or you'll end up arguing with Harlands about minor details.

 

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Hi Sick,

 

sorry I'm being a bit dim but if a payment was made on 5th May and then I gave official notice of wanting to cancel on 12th May then 14 days after that would be 26th May. So how would I be liable for a further payment on 5th June?

 

Messing around with accepting any cancellation is one side of the problem but trying to claim for further money after the 14 day notice period is another issue entirely isn't it?

 

May be missing something but I don't see how any of the parts of the payments demanded are fair or legal?

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Hi Crunchy,

 

I agree with you IF you only have to give 14 days notice. However, I'm not sure this IS the applicable notice term.

 

It may be that the "14 days" referred to the initial period during which you could cancel without obligation up to 14 days after joining, because you weren't IN the gym when you joined

 

In post #1, you said :-

 

JD have messaged basically sending me a copy of the generic Harlands T&C's. and stating that I have to give 14 days notice via email if I wish to cancel.

 

Can you tell us exactly what the email said.

 

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Hello .... We tried to call you regarding your comment on Facebook and issue with Harlands. Please find attached the T&C's every member agrees to on the first page of joining. It explains you need to give 14 days notice to cancel with Harlands (the company who takes your Direct Debit) and the terms you agree to by setting up a Direct Debit. Hope this information helps. Kind Regards. JD GYMS HULL

 

The attachments was the generic Harlands T&C's that Ive seen posted a few times on this forum by people stuck in contracts with any gym Harlands deal with.

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I am still waiting on that reply from Harlands that I sent following the phone conversation with the customer services rep last week. They've made no effort to contact me although all sides were agreed that I had to email them.

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Hi Crunchy and thanks for clarifying,

 

Ok, so you have an email from the gym confirming they required just 14 days notice. In which case I would suggest the following amended letter :-

 

Dear sir or madam,

 

I refer to my monthly no-contract membership at JD Sports gym in [Town].

 

I told the gym I wanted to cancel on 5th May and emailed Harlands, as suggested by the gym, confirming the cancellation on 12th May.

 

I have an email from the gym confirming they required 14 days notice to cancel. Accordingly the 14 days notice expired before the next DD payment was due, so no payment was due from me beyond the DD paid on 5th May.

 

I owe nothing more to Harlands, either for monthly gym fees, or for your admin fees.

 

I will make formal complaints to Trading Standards and The CMA if you make further demands, or if you pass the matter to any other party to pursue payment.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

That should do for now.

 

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Thanks for that Slick. I will get the letters sent out tomorrow. Not sure if it changes anything but I received an email this afternoon in response to my email over a week ago from ICS customer services as follows:

Thank you for your email.

 

We can confirm you are able to cancel your agreement without the one month cancellation period.

 

However, you will need to bring your payments are up to date before cancelling.

 

Therefore, your June payent is required.

 

Please contact our helpline on 01444 449162 if you require further information.

 

For all Enquiries Call Harlands : 01444 449162 () Quote Reference : 1810246 / JT

 

Office hours: Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Harlands

 

Clearly they are ignoring my request to cancel from 12th May and JD's assertion that the notice peiod is 14 days. My payments WERE all up to date when I asked to cancel. Also, payment is made in advance not in debit. The fun continues. I haven't responded, they will get a copy of the letter you advised.

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Hi Crunchy,

 

Who are ICS ??

 

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good question slick. this is the first time they've been mentioned so your guess is as good as mine. I'm assuming from viewing other posts on these forums, and by the contact details in the email that Harlands are inventing another guise for themselves. But the email address it was sent from wasn't the Harlands one I emailed it was c.service.ics@harlandsgroup.co.uk

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Ah, ok.

 

The email in post #15 was from Harlands and can be ignored until they reply to your letter in post #14.

 

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well I sent the letter on 2nd July 2015 and retained proof of postage. I also included in the header my new address as I figured they may take a while to respond and I was due to move so included both my new address and former address and stipulated such in the letter.

 

Today I received a redirected mail (clearly ignored letter and change of address- glad I paid the £30 to royal mail) and the letter reads as follows:

 

re: your membership to JD sports gym

 

We are disappointed that you have not responded to our previous correspondence.

 

The July instalment has now been missed, resulting in a further administration fee of £15.00 being added. The total amount now to bring your account up to date is £67.98.

 

Please call the HARLANDS HELPLINE- 01444 449162 to make payment by DEBIT/CREDIT card and reinstate your direct debit instruction. If you wish to pay by any other method you must still phone us to discuss your options.

 

The telephone lines are open 9:00am to 1:00pm and 2:00pm to 5:00pm Monday to Friday.

 

If you do not call us by 30th July 2015 then the collection of your membership fees will cease to be administered by Harlands and will be passed to a Debt Recovery company. This may incur you significant additional fees and ultimately result in court action.

 

Yours Sincerely

Harlands

 

They are clearly refusing to acknowledge my wish to cancel stated on 12th May, still for myself and my mothers accounts. Also refusing to acknowledge my change of address, all emails sent and the letter itself as later on they state "if you wish to cancel your membership without incurring extra any further costs, then you simply have to agree payment of the current outstanding amount plus the one month cancellation fee". this is then broken down to now come to £86.97.

 

I have emailed them highlighting again my change of address and copied the letter that I posted on 2nd July and stated that I am yet to receive any replies to any of the latter emails sent. Think they're prepared to ruin my credit rating first and foremost which will really be helpful in two years when it comes to renewing my mortgage. They have also done the same to my brother who I wasn't aware had joined the gym ages ago, asked the staff how to quit and they said "cancel your direct debit, that's all" and 8 months later he's been hit with letters. Another gym in the city is managed by Harlands and my friends husband has just been told the same; "just cancel your direct debit". Furious isn't the word.

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Hi Crunchy,

 

This matter will not affect your credit rating at all.

 

There was no need to respond to their letter really. You could have just ignored it until/unless they respond to your letter of 2nd June. Avoid playing their game of letters or emails "ping pong".

 

In any event, you should email Harlands saying you will make a formal complaint to the ICO if they send anything to your old address when they know you have moved.

 

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Today I received this email:

Dear *****

 

Further to your recent email.

 

Unfortunately we have been unable to locate your account we would require you to forward us either your full address or your Direct Debit refference number.

 

If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact our Harlands Helpline.

 

For all Enquiries Call : 01444 449 166

 

Office hours: Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm

 

Yours sincerely,

 

George,

Harlands Customer Services

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*bangs head on desk* I had attached the original letter posted on 2nd June which contained both "current address xxx" and "previous address on file xxxx".

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Reply saying, "My last email of xxdate attached details of my old and new address and my account no. for xxx gym was XXXXXXXX."

 

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