Monday, 16 March 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can they charge me?

I had a 12 month contract with a gym for which I authorized them to withdraw P550 through bank direct debit. My contract just ended on 28th February. Beginning of February, I went to fill in termination forms that I will not be continuing.

A week after that someone called me, saying they would like to offer me a monthly subscription at half price for March and April. I told them that I have no time to attend the gym and that I have been paying without attendance just because I was on contract. The person on the phone said that this is not a contract but just a discount offer. Then I said ok. My understanding was that if I want to continue they will charge me at half price for the next two months.

I didn’t know that they will proceed to debit P225 from my bank in March even if I did not go back to them to sign for it. Now they are saying I agreed to the discount on the phone and they would not refund me.

Kindly explain where I am wrong.

I’m not an attorney but I know one thing about the law. Once an agreement is in writing then that’s all there is to the agreement. If you filled in forms cancelling your membership then I think you can argue that the deal is definitely over. However, that doesn’t alter the fact that they’re taking your money and they might have a recording of you agreeing to this new discounted deal.

I also know that Section 22 of the new Consumer Protection Act says that a consumer “may rescind a transaction resulting from any direct sale or mail order sale without reason or penalty … within 10 working days after the date on which … the transaction or contract between the supplier and consumer was concluded”. The question is whether the phone call they made to sell you the discounted deal was a “direct sale”. I think it was.

I suggest that you call the gym and explain the law to them and tell them very clearly that you’re no longer interested and that they do not have your authority to take your money.

Who should pay?

I paid for granite without installation on Wednesday 4th March to be collected on Friday 6th. On Friday morning they called saying they had a break down and I should collect it on Saturday. I told them that the people I hired to install it are on site ready to install the kitchen unit. I had agreed with them that the granite will be delivered on Friday so I had paid the others for the installation. I asked the manager if they are going to install the granite for us for free and he said no.

My concern is that the manager breached the contract and now we have to find someone to install the granite with extra cost whereas the manager is the one who inconvenienced us and he did not even show any remorse.

I can imagine how frustrating this must be. However, I don’t think I can offer you any good news.

I know that the granite supplier let you down but their delivery wasn’t, as far as I can see, contractually connected to the people who you paid to do the installation. They were two different agreements with different suppliers. Yes, in your mind they were connected but not to either of the companies. Looking back it might have been wise to ask the granite supplier to put in writing that they accept that delivery had to be on the Friday and accepting that they would be responsible for the cost of any delay. However, I can also imagine that the granite supplier would probably have refused to sign an agreement saying that. They’ll know that there often are mishaps like the delivery truck breaking down. In their position I certainly wouldn’t have made such a promise.

Maybe it’s worth approaching the supplier and asking if they can do the installation for you at a discounted rate, given that they caused your delay and extra costs? It’s worth asking!

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