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Please help! Xercise 4 Less/Harlands/CRS trying to scare a pregnant lady here!


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Hi everybody, I'm new to this forum - spent a lot of time reading other threads on the issue of Xercise 4 Less/Harlands/CRS last night and now feel a bit more informed than I did previously! But I would like some help to see if I have a leg to stand on here before I go into battle!

 

I moved to Scotland in April, and subsequently joined the local Xercise 4 Less gym on the 27th on a 12 month contract at 14.99 per month. When joining, I also paid a £20.00 joining fee - taking my first total payment to £34.99.

 

I find it important to state now that I NEVER set foot in the gym after joining. (This was confirmed by a woman I spoke to on the telephone last Monday, 12th October '15 - more on this later) I fell pregnant and didn't really feel like going then. I continued to pay for the membership and unfortunately lost the pregnancy at just 4 weeks.

 

The company I was working for at the time - in short - went bust, and I was found without a job. I then found out I had fallen pregnant again and after losing my first pregnancy I certainly did not want to go to the gym due to my fears if anything else! For these reasons, I cancelled the direct debit with my bank online after approximately 3 months and 11 days of membership.

 

My partner and I then moved into a new flat in the same town. With my direct debit cancelled, I did not find it appropriate to notify the gym of my change of address, as far as I was concerned, I was no longer a member. I also find it important to state at this point that I have been a member of other gyms in the past and they took cancellation of my direct debit payments as cancellation of the service they were providing and did not contact me further - I believed this would be the case with this company also.

 

How wrong I was!

 

On Monday, 12th October I received a letter from a company called CRS - I have found many letters the same on these threads so will just paraphrase:

 

They say they have been employed by Xercise 4 Less as my membership remains in arrears despite letters being sent - I had not received these letters, but the gym remained to have my telephone number/email in their records, and I heard nothing from them through either of these channels.

 

They say they have added their fees (£111.57) to my debt, and the balance is now sitting at £321.48

 

They then say they want to reach an amicable resolution and give contact details telling me to phone them.

 

Stupidly, I did exactly that. I asked the man I spoke to why on earth I had to pay so much money. He continuously repeated to me that my account was in arrears. I had told him I was not happy to pay the fees, and also explained my reasons for leaving the gym. He froze my account for 7 days and demanded I prove I was pregnant by sending forms/paperwork to him. If I sent these forms the amount would be reduced "significantly" due to my pregnancy.

 

I also phoned the gym and asked them what was going on. The woman I spoke to had confirmed that I had never set foot in the gym (she could tell from her electronic records). I asked her why I had to pay so much for a service I had joined but never took advantage of. She told me I owed the gym £219.00 and to sort it out with the Xercise 4 Less customer service team, and gave me a telephone number. I never phoned this number.

 

I have done the basic maths after checking my bank account -

 

- The payments made to Harlands totalled £64.97 - this is evident in payments taken from 11th May (34.99), 26th May (14.99) and 25th June (£14.99) ---thats just raised a question in itself, why did they take my joining fee so late, and why did they charge me twice in one month...surely they've taken 2 months of payment in one month?--

 

- If I was still paying for the gym, I would have only now paid them a further sum of approx. £25.98, another 2 months worth of membership give or take a few days.

 

- Upon checking my bank statement for August I see they attempted to take £39.99 from me, but I had no notification from the bank that any payments had bounced, and we can see above that they haven't - I made the payments. I wonder why they were trying to take so much from me?

 

So WHY do I owe them £321.48/£219.00 - I'm very confused as to which it is, as when the CRS "fees" are added, the total amounts to £330.57 - so is someone playing silly beggars?!

 

 

Now...some questions!

 

- From what I have read on other threads, CRS and Harlands are the same company - does this mean they have not sold my "debt" on to someone else and have no right to be using a different letterhead as a scare tactic?

 

- Does the court ruling of The OFT vs AMSL in 2011 apply to me, and can I use it to back up my claim that cancellation of my direct debit was notice enough?

 

- As I never used the service, do I have any differing cancellation rights?

 

- As the amount I'm being charged is absolutely out of this world, am I right in thinking that this is made up of silly fees/penalties and as such cannot be enforced? Remember, I've been told as I'm pregnant the amount can be reduced significantly. Why/how if they are not just pointless unlawful penalties?

 

- I will no longer speak with any of the companies on the telephone, and will only have written correspondence. As there are a few lingering days at the beginning and end of the membership I am happy to offer them a month's payment (£14.99) as a good will gesture and final settlement of fees owed. Is this within my rights and would you say this was sensible to do?

 

- Do I speak with Harlands on this matter? I do not want to speak with CRS (although I realise they are one and the same).

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated! I must admit I was very upset when I first received the letter but now I am furious that they are trying to take money from me, especially at a time when this so called debt amounts to the price of my baby's pram, car seat and changing bag all in one!

 

Thank you in advance,

 

Elvie

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You do not need to send any forms or paperwork to prove you were pregnant to anyone

So send them nothing

The fees that have been added on are unlawful and do not need paying either

Keep off the phone as well

 

Im sure some one will draft a letter you can send to the gym soon

  • Confused 1

If i have helped in any way hit my star.

any advice given is based on experience and learnt from this site :-)

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Hi Elvie and welcome to CAG

 

As said above, you must stay OFF the phone as you will hear nothing at all that will help you. If Harlands/CRS call you, just tell the IN WRITING ONLY, then hang up !!

 

To answer your Q's above :-

 

1. Harlands/CRS are the same outfit but they pretend that CRS is a separate entity. The alleged debt has not been sold, nor is it ever likely to be.

 

2. Yes, we maintain that cancelling the DD was adequate notice of intent to cancel.

 

3. Makes no difference if you used the gym or not.

 

4. We always advise that you challenge, and do not pay, their admin fees as they are unenforceable penalties.

 

5. Offering to pay a months fee for the notice period is right.

 

6. As Harlands/CRS are the same, you will NOT speak to them to offer fees to settle the matter.

 

We can help you with a brief letter to send to Harlands and I'll post this up shortly.

 

:-)

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Hi Elvie,

 

Can you please confirm the date you cancelled the DD mandate.

 

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If you cancelled the DD in early August, it would appear that they failed to take the July DD for some reason. Can you think of any reason for this ?

 

The payment they tried to take in Aug of £39.99 would be £14.99 gym fee plus £25 admin fee for a missed fee. No matter, as that's a minor issue. Let us know about this before you send this letter as it may need altering.

 

Letter to Harlands and get a free Certificate of Posting at the PO :-

 

Dear Harlands,

 

Xercise4Less Gym in [town or city]

 

I refer to my membership at the above gym earlier this year.

 

I will only deal with this matter in writing and require that you do not phone me or send text or SMS messages. I am pregnant and, after miscarrying earlier this year, I do not need the stress of being hounded by Harlands/CRS with demands for ridiculously high payments.

 

I can see no reason why you failed to take the DD payment due at the end of July. Is there any reason for this as my bank confirms you failed to seek the DD payment.

 

I had to cancel my membership in early August, when I was made redundant (employer went bust) and I found I was pregnant again.

 

I am willing to offer you £14.99 for the months notice I should have given you when I cancelled the DD mandate. If you confirm in writing within 14 days that you'll accept my payment in full settlement of all that I owe, I will pay you.

 

I will not pay you any admin fees that you have added.

 

If you insist I pay admin fees, I will not pay you anything.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

No need to say any more at this stage.

 

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Thats fantastic, thank you.

 

I can't see any reason why they did not take payment in July - there is nothing on any bank statement to say that an attempt at payment was made, and the bank would have charged me some stupid fee for a returned direct debit if they'd tried to take it but couldn't, thats what normally happens. I will ring my bank and just check once more with them to be sure and let you know!

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Hi Elvie,

 

If Harlands failed to take the July DD, that's their problem really.

 

Just send the letter as it is, and let us know how they reply.

 

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Just got off the phone to someone at the bank, got my dates mixed up (I'm useless) - I cancelled on August 30th. So the payment they tried to take in August was most probably my fault, shall I amend the letter to say I will pay £14.99 x2 for the amount missed and a months cancellation or shall I just offer £14.99 as I cancelled at the end of the month? I'm getting confused now haha.

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Hi Elvie,

 

Ok, hold off from sending the letter until we get this right ..............

 

You cancelled the DD on 30th August, not the 7th so I assume they tried to take a DD around 26th August. Did they take £14.99; or £14.99 + admin fee of £25.00 = £39.99. Or did your bank not pay them.

 

And what about the July payment - did you ask the bank about this, and whether Harlands attempted to take a DD at the end of July.

 

I'll be back later today and we'll get the letter sorted then .............

 

:-)

Edited by slick132
34.99 changed to 39.99 cos I can't add up !!

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Hi Slick, sorry for being so confusing.

 

There was a payment requested on the 27th July which just hasn't showed up on my statements, person from the bank was very helpful and has rectified the issue for me. The payment was 14.99 but was unpaid.

 

On the 7th, the amount they requested was £39.99 not £34.99 - I am not sure why, as even if they were trying to take July + August + admin fee it would total £54.98

 

The 7th is the last requested date for money according to my bank.

 

So the total I do genuinely owe them is 29.98 because they were unpaid - forgetting the fees. Plus a cancellation of a further 14.99? That all totals to £44.97 which I would much rather pay than the ludicrous sum they're suggesting.

 

I need to lie down in a dark room!

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I've just corrected the figure in my last post, from £34.99 to £39.99. A simple error on my part. :oops:

 

Did the bank say WHY the July DD was not paid.

 

They tried to take £39.99 (14.99 = 25.00 admin fee) on 7th August. Do you know why this was not paid because the DD mandate was still active.

 

I assume they didn't try to take money on 26th August because the 2 DD's they tried to collect previously had failed and they considered the membership to be suspended.

 

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Yep, I had insufficient funds. :|

 

Like I said I'm happy to pay those outstanding payments because I realise I was still in contract - but now they are asking for the 300 odd I just find it ridiculous. Also had a text from CRS yesterday telling me to call them - I won't.

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Ah, right - that makes perfect sense now.

 

I've re-written the letter to reflect what happened and this can be sent off now. Take it to the PO to get your free Certificate of Posting.

 

Dear Harlands,

 

Xercise4Less Gym in [town or city]

 

I refer to my membership at the above gym earlier this year.

 

I will only deal with this matter in writing and require that you do not phone me or send text or SMS messages. I am pregnant and, after miscarrying earlier this year, I do not need the stress of being hounded by Harlands/CRS with demands for ridiculously high amounts.

 

I had to cancel my membership in August, after I was made redundant (employer went bust) and I found I was pregnant again.

 

I've now found that my bank didn't pay you the July and August DD payments and I now offer to pay you £29.98 for these 2 months. If you confirm in writing within 14 days that you'll accept my payment in full settlement of all that I owe, I will pay you.

 

I will not pay any admin fees that you have added.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

That'll do for now.

 

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I've emailed them at c.service @ harlandsgroup .co. uk with the letter as I don't have a printer and its a lot of hassle getting to one to use it. Is this the correct email address?

 

I've seen that others have emailed them but had received one of those emails that just confirm its been sent to the company, I haven't received anything yet but I'll wait a bit longer and if i don't get anything I'll post a letter.

 

Had a text message yesterday and a phone call today which i didn't answer.

 

And guess what! My boyfriend got a message last night funnily enough telling him to ring them because his account is in arrears! Had to laugh.

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Ideally you should follow up your email with a hard copy so that they cannot deny ever receiving correspondence from you.

 

It'll be worth it in the long run, either print it off or write it out, doesn't matter what state your handwriting is in, it's unlikely they

have anyone able to read it anyway!

 

Then obtain proof of posting which is free from the PO counter and keep that as your evidence of correspondence.

 

They may claim that they haven't received your email, or it's not monitored, or the moon wasn't full enough for them to read it by, anything other than the truth.

 

If they ring you, answer, laugh and hang up, repeat the process and keep a diary of events also with a view of reporting them to the police for the criminal offence of harassment.

 

Forward their sill text messages to 7726 (SPAM) on your mobile phone keypad and your provider will log it as a spam text message, when they hit a certain level, then they fine the company.

Who ever heard of someone getting a job at the Jobcentre? The unemployed are sent there as penance for their sins, not to help them find work!

 

 

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We normally recommend using written letters but, if they've confirmed receipt of your email, that is sufficient to prove they received it.

 

However, the other reason to avoid emails is Harlands/CRS will fire back emails replies far quicker than if they write to you. Hence you end up playing email ping-pong with them and this will not work in your interests.

 

You can hand-write a letter and keep a photocopy if you can't print one on your own or a friend's computer.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hello me again! Finally heard from them, wrote to Harlands but got a response from CRS anyway?

 

Here it is:

 

Re: CRS Ref No: 8317195 / Xercise 4 Less Ref No: W8825762

 

Further to your letter and email of 22nd October we would like to remind you that on 25th April 2015 you entered into a legally binding agreement to pay a minimum of twelve Direct Debit payments of £14.99 of which you have paid only three. As such, even without the charges which you have advised you will not pay, your offer of £29.98 would not be sufficient to settle this matter. To be clear, the addition of these charges in such circumstances is stipulated in the terms of your agreement. It is our position that our charges are lawful and in line with all relevant guidance.

 

Despite the above we are confident we can assist you and as such we wish to confirm that the terms of your agreement state:

 

"This agreement can be cancelled upon appropriate proof of redundancy or other loss of livelihood."

 

&

 

"This agreement can be cancelled if you become pregnant upon the appropriate written proof being given."

 

The terms also state, however, that:

 

"ANY cancellation for the above reasons will not be effected until the appropriate proof is provided and received."

 

As such, we recommend that you supply us with evidence of your change of circumstances as soon as possible in order to maximise the discount we can offer you.

 

For termination on the grounds of redundancy or other loss of livelihood, we require either a letter from your former employer which is either signed or on headed paper (ideally both) confirming the termination of your employment (either from the time your employment ended or a new letter), a P45, or any document relating to a claim for job seeker's allowance.

 

For termination on the grounds of pregnancy, we require a MatB1 certificate, a letter from a doctor or midwife or appointment letter or similar with midwife, ultrasound, anti-natal clinic etc.

 

This evidence may be sent to us by posting it to Credit Resolution Services, 2nd Floor, Rockwood House, 9-17 Perrymount Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH16 3TW, by emailing it to [email protected] or by faxing it to 01444 449 152. Please be aware that we are happy to accept scans and photocopies, we do not require original documents.

 

We shall hold further recovery action for a period of 7 days to allow you time to provide such evidence.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

David Castle

 

Collections Department

 

 

 

I really don't know what to say to this, can anyone help please?? Thank you.

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Hi Elvie,

 

I'd ignore Harlands for now and write instead to X4Less :-

 

Dear sir or madam,

 

Membership at [town or city] gym

 

I enclose a copy of my letter sent to Harlands/CRS on xxdate, the content being self-explanatory.

 

CRS have replied demanding sight of personal documents and said they will not process the cancellation until I provide the documents.

 

I do not need any stress at this time for obvious reasons and I am not happy that Harlands/CRS have taken 3 weeks to reply, expecting me to pay throughout this time.

 

Please tell Harlands to cancel my membership with immediate effect and make no further demands.

 

If they continue to bother me, I will make the loudest of complaints to the appropriate authorites and Xercise4Less will be included as it is you that engage the services of Harlands. Their reputation for harassing gym members is terrible.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

:-)

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Who the hell do they think they are demanding sight of such personal private documents?

 

Truly laughable, really, they are deluded, I'd make a complaint anyway regarding the content of that very foolish missive, they have NO right to view any such documents, silly silly children.

Who ever heard of someone getting a job at the Jobcentre? The unemployed are sent there as penance for their sins, not to help them find work!

 

 

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