Harlands Direct Debit Charge

Hello everyone,

I'm having a little problem with Harlands and I've found a few cases on forums where it's got out of hand and people have been harassed. To start with here are the facts and figures of my predicament:

My wife and I have had our worst month financially this month. Also, I recently moved jobs which moved my payday from 25th of the month to second-from-last working day of the month. Some direct debits are unfortunately in the middle of that.

Three payments bounced; sky TV, home insurance and Harlands (on behalf of Lifestyle Fitness).

Sky are fine with it, they're just going to try again soon. Haven't heard from Royal Sun Alliance about it, but Harlands have sent me a letter saying they'll charge for the payment again, plus a £25 admin fee. Exact words as follows:

"Harlands administer the collection of all payments due under your membership agreement with Lifestyle Fitness - Darlington. Your bank have advised us that your October instalment has been returned unpaid "refer to payer" as there were insufficient funds in the account to pay the amount due.

We will therefore debit your account on 9 November 15 for the total amount of £42.99"

That's an instalment amount of £17.99 and an admin fee of £25.

I actually use my gym membership so I don't want to cancel the direct debit. I also don't want a big chew on with them like I've seen in other forums. So my questions are:

1. Do I legally have to pay the admin charge?

2. How do I avoid paying the charge and also avoid the harassment they tend to give out for months after?

I've seen people being pestered for months, with info being passed to other companies and endless threats. I don't want my contact info passed to other companies, nor do I want the chew of letters every day.

I look forward to your help guys, I know this is the place for the answers.
«134

Comments

  • grumbler
    grumbler Posts: 58,590
    Name Dropper First Post Photogenic First Anniversary
    Forumite
    JazzJPH wrote: »
    To start with here are the facts and figures of my predicament:

    My wife and I have had our worst month financially this month. Also, I recently moved jobs which moved my payday from 25th of the month to second-from-last working day of the month. Some direct debits are unfortunately in the middle of that.

    Three payments bounced; sky TV, home insurance and Harlands (on behalf of Lifestyle Fitness).
    Sky, gum - and £0 savings?

    If you knew that the DDs would bounce, why did you not cancel them at least to avoid your bank's fees?
    Sky are fine with it, they're just going to try again soon. Haven't heard from Royal Sun Alliance about it, but Harlands have sent me a letter saying they'll charge for the payment again, plus a £25 admin fee.

    So my questions are:

    1. Do I legally have to pay the admin charge?
    Why not if you agreed to the T&C that say "7. If you fail to pay any monies due under this agreement or if any Direct Debit is returned unpaid or any cheque is returned unpaid or if any other form of payment is not honoured for whatever reason, you shall pay us on demand an administration fee of £25"?
    2. How do I avoid paying the charge and also avoid the harassment they tend to give out for months after?
    You can't unless you find some legitimate reason for cancelling the contract.
    MSE articles:
    Gym giants to give users better cancellation rights
    Gyms News - Money Saving Expert News Service
    More gym-goers will find it easier to cancel contracts
    Tens of thousands can cancel gym contracts
    I've seen people being pestered for months, with info being passed to other companies and endless threats. I don't want my contact info passed to other companies, nor do I want the chew of letters every day.
    Don't get credit that you can't afford to service then.
    We are born naked, wet and hungry...Then things get worse. :(

    .withdrawal, NOT withdrawel ..bear with me, NOT bare with me
    .definitely, NOT definately ......separate, NOT seperate
    should have, NOT should of
    .....guaranteed, NOT guarenteed
  • JazzJPH
    JazzJPH Posts: 45 Forumite
    I was unaware of the direct debits hitting that date until the charges bounced. Typically they come after payday, however they don't always come on the day specified do they?

    My bank have told me they won't charge me. I assume this is because they've never had this problem with my account.

    I don't understand your reference to £0 savings with Sky.

    It's not that I can't afford it, I've had the membership for over three years now and this is the first time it's happened. As I mentioned in my original post, it's been a tough month financially.

    I am happy to pay for anything I genuinely owe, but this is unfair.

    Thanks for your post, it's clear you side with these sharks and are therefore misinformed as my research thus far indicates that these admin fees, despite being in terms and conditions, can not be legally upheld.

    Stick around though, when people reply who know about this type of thing, you may learn something.
  • PaulW922
    PaulW922 Posts: 1,035
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Forumite
    The £25 admin fee is almost certainly allowed for in the contract. However that does not mean it is fair and given it is likely to vastly exceed Harlands costs it may well qualify as a penalty - if that is the case it is not lawful because there is no such concept in civil contracts. I would suggest you (a) let the DD be paid and (b) pursue it with the gym. If the gym contract is a credit agreement you can complain to the ombudsman and if not, you can always go to the county court if you are inclined.

    Whatever you decide to do I suspect the contact will be with the gym and not the payment processor so make sure you complain about the right people fi you go down the FOS route. Check your agreement..
  • JazzJPH
    JazzJPH Posts: 45 Forumite
    PaulW922 wrote: »
    The £25 admin fee is almost certainly allowed for in the contract. However that does not mean it is fair and given it is likely to vastly exceed Harlands costs it may well qualify as a penalty - if that is the case it is not lawful because there is no such concept in civil contracts. I would suggest you (a) let the DD be paid and (b) pursue it with the gym. If the gym contract is a credit agreement you can complain to the ombudsman and if not, you can always go to the county court if you are inclined.

    Whatever you decide to do I suspect the contact will be with the gym and not the payment processor so make sure you complain about the right people fi you go down the FOS route. Check your agreement..

    Cheers for that mate. I've emailed the gym and since received a reply from the manager saying she will request they cancel the charge.

    Hopefully that'll save me from the chew to come. The reason I don't want to pay it is exactly what you mentioned - fee vastly exceeds their costs. It will all have been automated. The only cost to them is the envelope and paper to tell me I'm charged. If it wasn't for that it would cost them nothing.

    There should be some decency for a situation like this.
  • grumbler
    grumbler Posts: 58,590
    Name Dropper First Post Photogenic First Anniversary
    Forumite
    edited 31 October 2015 at 5:14PM
    JazzJPH wrote: »
    I was unaware of the direct debits hitting that date until the charges bounced. Typically they come after payday,
    How can the company know the payday?
    however they don't always come on the day specified do they?
    They come either on the agreed date or on the date specified in advance in the bill. If not, and a DD comes a surprise, then you are protected by the DD guarantee allowing you to claim all the charges back.
    I don't understand your reference to £0 savings with Sky.
    IMHO, both Sky and gym are luxuries that people without savings can't afford.
    It's not that I can't afford it, I've had the membership for over three years now and this is the first time it's happened. As I mentioned in my original post, it's been a tough month financially.
    If one tough month was sufficient for DDs to start bouncing, then my point stands. It's fundamentally wrong to think about affordability just in terms of monthly payments vs salary.

    Regarding the fairness of the amount, according to MSE for banks they currently are ~£15 on average - not far from your £25 (I don't see why it can't be bigger for the company that needs to chase you for the money you owe). And claiming them back only because you think the fees are unfair is next to impossible ATM:
    Reclaiming bank charges from current or closed accounts specifically for busting your overdraft limit, bounced cheques and direct debits was once an open door. You simply threatened to take a bank to court or the Ombudsman, and it sent you a goodwill cheque for six years' worth of charges, plus interest. In recent years, charges have dropped to an average of around £15. It may still be possible to get this back, but it's been more difficult since a November 2009 Supreme Court ruling,...
    >> Reclaim Bank Charges
    We are born naked, wet and hungry...Then things get worse. :(

    .withdrawal, NOT withdrawel ..bear with me, NOT bare with me
    .definitely, NOT definately ......separate, NOT seperate
    should have, NOT should of
    .....guaranteed, NOT guarenteed
  • JazzJPH
    JazzJPH Posts: 45 Forumite
    I don't think you're getting the point - the bank isn't charging me. They're OK with it. It's Harlands who are charging me.

    I don't expect the company to know the payday. Also, my direct debits have generally come on different days -I looked up why, and it turns out that direct debits don't have to come on the exact same date each month.

    Thank you for your opinion that doesn't relate to the questions. You're assessing my situation without knowing all my facts and it's detracting from the topic.
  • jimjames
    jimjames Posts: 17,482
    Photogenic Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    Forumite
    edited 31 October 2015 at 6:41PM
    Check the dates of your DDs over the last few months. I've got loads of DD for different bills and I can't think of any that come out on a random day each month. It may vary by a day or two depending on weekend or holidays but it's the same time every month.

    Are you suggesting your DD comes out at totally different times every month so may not be a month apart? I think grumbler was suggesting that as bank charges are a similar order then it would be hard to dispute the amount. Maybe paying the charges this month by card or cheque would satisfy them as they've got their money

    It's also a good point about savings. It's generally suggested that you should have 3-6 months worth of salary saved up to cover unforeseen or emergency situations. You say we know nothing of your circumstances but if you had that then these would not have bounced.
    Remember the saying: if it looks too good to be true it almost certainly is.
  • grumbler
    grumbler Posts: 58,590
    Name Dropper First Post Photogenic First Anniversary
    Forumite
    edited 31 October 2015 at 11:27PM
    JazzJPH wrote: »
    I don't think you're getting the point -
    I am
    the bank isn't charging me.
    However, it's allowed to charge - after long-lasting investigations by the regulator and court hearings. Bank doesn't lose anything as a result of a bounced DD. A company does. Why is it fair then for banks to charge ~£15 and not fair for a company to charge £25?
    I don't expect the company to know the payday. Also, my direct debits have generally come on different days -I looked up why, and it turns out that direct debits don't have to come on the exact same date each month.
    If they don't inform you about the next date it has to be the same and can vary only because of weekends and bank holidays.
    Thank you for your opinion that doesn't relate to the questions.
    You are welcome.
    You're assessing my situation without knowing all my facts and it's detracting from the topic.
    What's the topic then?
    If it's just the questions (1) and (2), then all the information about your circumstances that resulted in bounced DDs was irrelevant and OOT too.
    We are born naked, wet and hungry...Then things get worse. :(

    .withdrawal, NOT withdrawel ..bear with me, NOT bare with me
    .definitely, NOT definately ......separate, NOT seperate
    should have, NOT should of
    .....guaranteed, NOT guarenteed
  • JazzJPH
    JazzJPH Posts: 45 Forumite
    OK I'll try to steer this back on track.

    I've been charged an admin fee that's apparently going to be taken without my permission next week. I don't want to pay it. MSE is all about saving money. I have weekly emails full of loopholes to save money. How can I save my money in this instance?
  • Archi_Bald
    Archi_Bald Posts: 9,681
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Forumite
    You need to check the contract you have with your gym. In all likelihood, it contains one or more clauses on what happens if your regular payment does not arrive in time. Please post the relevant clause(s) here.
This discussion has been closed.
Meet your Ambassadors

Categories

  • All Categories
  • 341.6K Banking & Borrowing
  • 249.7K Reduce Debt & Boost Income
  • 449K Spending & Discounts
  • 233.7K Work, Benefits & Business
  • 605.8K Mortgages, Homes & Bills
  • 172.3K Life & Family
  • 246.4K Travel & Transport
  • 1.5M Hobbies & Leisure
  • 15.8K Discuss & Feedback
  • 15.1K Coronavirus Support Boards