Board refusing cancellation despite offering to other members?!?

Beeky

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Hi,
I’m a member of a golf club who, like all others, have closed down due to the Coronavirus.
Yesterday they announced an offer for members to cancel, effective immediately. However, they only applied this to members who pay by direct debit. I paid in advance and they are refusing me, and others who want to, the opportunity to cancel and receive a refund. Essentially, keeping our money with no recourse, which in the current climate would provide some financial support. The amount is approx £600.
I’m aware that under Consumer law an organisation can’t make you pay for something that you can’t use, however they are refusing to refund or offer anything in the form of credit/extended membership as other clubs have in the area. They are essentially refunding monthly payers as they won’t have to fork out for the next 5 months (when membership ends), whereas us annual payers just have to wave goodbye to the money. I’m furious about this but have sent amicable emails which have been met with a sneering response. Can anyone confirm my belief that this is a breach/material change of a contract. That withholding money for a service I cannot use is unlawful and advise what my best course of action is.
I’ve tried to open a dialogue and even offered counter measures, but no response. They also won’t give me access to cancellation or grievance policies. And!! If you’re feeling bad for the club in anyway, they sent the email out offering monthly members the chance to cancel immediately a matter of hours after they took everyone’s subs for April. Whilst this doesn’t affect me, it’s a good insight into the arrogance and lack of regard I’m up against.

Any help is much appreciated... and there is more to the story ?
 

Hobbit

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Did you pay by card? Maybe you have recourse to recover it that way. Mind you, if you do I wonder if they'd have you back when the lockdown is lifted?
 

drdel

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Arrogance like this annoys me: IF you want to go nuclear you could give them the option of refunding you in the next 7 days or you'll be forced to make on online claim (old Small Claims Courts) to recover the debt and costs (takes only a few minutes). You could turn up in person, people are often less brave face to face - social distancing permitted !!
 

williamalex1

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I know that my clubs constitution requires an existing member to give a set amount of notice if they want to cancel their membership.
Failure to give notice, they could possibly be held to the contract they initially signed, or be debt barred .
Not sure if any of that has ever been enforced, so far.
Some have might have agreed to pay by DD , probably through some outside finance company, not by the club itself, so the club should get still the fees agreed from the finance company. If you signed a agreement with a finance company , best of luck getting out of that.
Not gospel, only my thoughts :p
 

Beeky

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If there is more to the story why not make everyone fully aware of all the facts so they could at least give you an informed opinion based on full knowledge
Sorry that makes it sound a bit cloak and dagger. Just didn’t want to go on and on.
Anyway, received an email from the manager a week ago with a full on character assassination of completely unrelated and largely untrue points. Totally out of the blue, incredibly unprofessional and cowardly.
Have continually requested an opportunity to resolve this without going down the legal route. Knowledge that they have refunded at lease one member who had his monthly subs taken an hour before the email saying that they hadn’t intended it. Been told by the manager that he “can’t do refunds”, but, again, won’t open up a channel so that I discuss it. Not providing me with access to grievance or cancellation policies, telling me “you should find it somewhere on the website.”, which it isn’t. Not providing me with a copy of my “annual agreement.” No acknowledgement or response to my alternative suggestions regarding crediting this the money that we annual payers have formed out to future memberships, range etc. Even though I want out, I realise that this might appease others. No explanation about how they have come to this decision, nor how they feel that this lawful... which it isn’t. Generally dismissive nature or passive aggressive in all correspondence - the sort that you wouldn’t do face to face unless you were prepared to argue the toss (as a minimum). Receiving a notification saying that they had noted my resignation - I’ve pointed out that I am not “resigning”, I am asking for cancellation and refund. If I resigned I would have no comeback - I’m aware of that, they weren’t aware that I was aware of that though.
Not to mention how stressful this is. I’ve repeatedly stated how I want to resolve this amicably and fairly as it’s another stress that I, and others, don’t need at the moment - not even an acknowledgment of that.
I could go on... ?
 

Beeky

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Arrogance like this annoys me: IF you want to go nuclear you could give them the option of refunding you in the next 7 days or you'll be forced to make on online claim (old Small Claims Courts) to recover the debt and costs (takes only a few minutes). You could turn up in person, people are often less brave face to face - social distancing permitted !!
I know. Have already brought up Small Claims, Ombudsman etc. Not formally, they tried to scare me off by asking if I knew about ‘pre-action protocol’ and how, because of the current situation I should be aware that Small Claims actions will ‘take a considerable length of time.’ I replied that I knew that and that my correspondence so far is nothing formal yet and that it’s fine, I’ve got 6 years to make a claim. No reply to that funnily enough. As for the face to face... pretty sure it would t be going this way. ?
 

Hobbit

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If you keep going back to them saying you want to resolve this amicably you'll be seen as weak. The first time, and maybe the second they might have worried. Now, maybe, they just think they've got you because you won't push it.

If you want out because of the way they've behaved, why keep going back to them. Find out what your legal standing is and the process for recovering the money. Tell them what you've found and give them a deadline.
 

Beeky

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I know that my clubs constitution requires an existing member to give a set amount of notice if they want to cancel their membership.
Failure to give notice, they could possibly be held to the contract they initially signed, or be debt barred .
Not sure if any of that has ever been enforced, so far.
Some have might have agreed to pay by DD , probably through some outside finance company, not by the club itself, so the club should get still the fees agreed from the finance company. If you signed a agreement with a finance company , best of luck getting out of that.
Not gospel, only my thoughts :p
Straight from people’s banks. And you can’t give notice to leave something that isn’t open. No contract for this year was signed by me, just fees paid as a roll on from previous years. Also, the minute they offer cancellation to one group of members with exactly the same “annual agreement” term, but not others, they have created an unfair and unequal membership. Again, they know they can’t do it, but are hoping that people will just go along with it because they might throw out a legal term to scare them off... I don’t know, something like debt barred ? I’m not normally one for this, but the money is actually pretty irrelevant- it’s the f)(&ing principle and arrogance of it all
 

Beeky

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If you keep going back to them saying you want to resolve this amicably you'll be seen as weak. The first time, and maybe the second they might have worried. Now, maybe, they just think they've got you because you won't push it.

If you want out because of the way they've behaved, why keep going back to them. Find out what your legal standing is and the process for recovering the money. Tell them what you've found and give them a deadline.
I know. I’m doing it to create a file showing that I’ve continually tried to resolve this before it gets to court. They know I’ll push, but probably figure I’ll give up. You’re right though, think the only way to go is get the legal advice and then hit them with the Small Claims deadline. Leaves a bad taste, but they’re slippery f£)&ers and it needs doing
 

IanM

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My business law is rusty and out of date....

But they cannot treat customers differently depending on their payment schedule, even if there are differing contract terms, they might not be valid.

You can give notice to leave something that "isnt open" - the contract with the company, implied or written is still valid, the course being closed dues to Virus is material.

If they are refunding one lot (by waiving fees) they cannot do different by others. (unless you signed something to the contrary) My guess is that they are in the mire and have no cash to refund pre-payers - send an email giving 7 days to pay, then go legal. Or forget about it an get on with your life. Email tennis with them will achieve nothing,
 

Beeky

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My business law is rusty and out of date....

But they cannot treat customers differently depending on their payment schedule, even if there are differing contract terms, they might not be valid.

You can give notice to leave something that "isnt open" - the contract with the company, implied or written is still valid, the course being closed dues to Virus is material.

If they are refunding one lot (by waiving fees) they cannot do different by others. (unless you signed something to the contrary) My guess is that they are in the mire and have no cash to refund pre-payers - send an email giving 7 days to pay, then go legal. Or forget about it an get on with your life. Email tennis with them will achieve nothing,
Thanks for this. I think I’ve just come to the same conclusion. Not healthy and not getting anywhere. Going to give them a few days and then go with the 7 days to pay move. Thanks again
 

Leftie

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I can only comment on my experience at two clubs - one propriety and one private members. At both, when you rejoined at the start of the club's financial year you were committing to being a member and paying the fees for the whole year be it payment up front or by D/D. That was the agreement - take it or leave it. To be fair, in some extenuating circumstances, they occasionally might waive this commitment but in general you have signed up for the year regardless. On their part, there is no obligation to provide guaranteed access to the course and facilities every day/week/month of the year. I know that the last few months have been awful and this plus C19 has made many people rethink their memberships. There are several courses locally that have always been viewed as 9/10 month clubs. People have complained but they knew/should have known when they signed up.

As for allowing D/D paying members to cancel, there must be some wrinkle there or it might just be a case that there would be too many people to take to court for non payment of the balance of the fees.

And just in case you are wondering, I usually play 3 times a week in the winter months. Since mid December I've only played one full round of 18 holes (several 9/10/11 holes) due to conditions. I pay by D/D but wouldn't dream of welching on my implied agreement with the club.
 

Grant85

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Hi,
I’m a member of a golf club who, like all others, have closed down due to the Coronavirus.
Yesterday they announced an offer for members to cancel, effective immediately. However, they only applied this to members who pay by direct debit. I paid in advance and they are refusing me, and others who want to, the opportunity to cancel and receive a refund. Essentially, keeping our money with no recourse, which in the current climate would provide some financial support. The amount is approx £600.
I’m aware that under Consumer law an organisation can’t make you pay for something that you can’t use, however they are refusing to refund or offer anything in the form of credit/extended membership as other clubs have in the area. They are essentially refunding monthly payers as they won’t have to fork out for the next 5 months (when membership ends), whereas us annual payers just have to wave goodbye to the money. I’m furious about this but have sent amicable emails which have been met with a sneering response. Can anyone confirm my belief that this is a breach/material change of a contract. That withholding money for a service I cannot use is unlawful and advise what my best course of action is.
I’ve tried to open a dialogue and even offered counter measures, but no response. They also won’t give me access to cancellation or grievance policies. And!! If you’re feeling bad for the club in anyway, they sent the email out offering monthly members the chance to cancel immediately a matter of hours after they took everyone’s subs for April. Whilst this doesn’t affect me, it’s a good insight into the arrogance and lack of regard I’m up against.

Any help is much appreciated... and there is more to the story ?

Completely unacceptable.

Golf Clubs often go out of their way to make sure people realise that paying by DD is not paying for each month of use at a time, it is effectively staggering an annual payment over 12 months.

So to then offer a discount or refund to DD members and not the same refund to annual payers is not acceptable.

Initially I'd have thought the law was def in your favour, but thinking about it I'm not so sure. As others have said, small claims may be the way to go. But will cost you another £106 or so to find out. But likely your decision to pay your fees last year, and the situation at that point, will have greater weight than the discount they are offering now to DD members.

i.e. were you happy to pay your fees in full last year? yes
is the club at fault here for not being able to provide the service to you? no
possible that the court would see the discount to some members as irrelevant.

The law doesn't take into account what is fair, it takes into account a contract between two parties (i.e. an offer and acceptance). And it's entirely reasonable that businesses charge different prices to different people (see fuel, flights) and it's all perfectly legal.
 
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Grant85

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Any help is much appreciated... and there is more to the story ?

Also - come on. Lets find out the club, what else there is to know etc.

And if the club is proprietary rather than member owned, then I'd be resigning immediately - assuming you have other options to move to.
A member owned club, I'd give more of a pass to.
 

sunshine

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Key element here is whether direct debit people are paying a monthly membership and annual payers are paying an annual membership.

As Grant states, typically clubs charge an annual membership, so you are due to pay the full amount. If the club offered an incentive to new joiners, eg 15 months for the price of 12, would you expect the club to extend the same offer to all the existing members? No of course not, it's perfectly legal to offer rates / deals to different people. So I think the club is entitled to offer refunds to some members and not others. Creating the perception of unfairness is likely to alienate the members - but poor customer service is a different issue.

You've probably got more grievance with the alleged "character assassination" by email. If you want the forum to help you should copy and paste the emails in this thread.
 
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