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Forgive me if this is the wrong forum, in which case please feel free to move it, but I have a contract law question.  I joined an MMA school back in 2004 and I've been an active member for the past 10 years, never missing a payment.  My account is currently paid in full with no balance owed.  Today I tried to cancel the account so that I would not be billed for the month of July, and was informed that they could not cancel it since my written contract requires 30 days written notice.  I kindly explained that I had never seen, nor entered into any contract which they disputed stating that I had.  So, I asked for a copy of the contract that I supposedly signed which they sent over.   The contract is in my Dad's name, I am listed as the member, and it was signed by my Mom back in 2004.  They tried to tell me that because my name was listed as the member on the contract that the contract was binding to me, I told them to go shove it where the sun doesn't shine on that notion since I've never seen, nor signed the contract.  After a lengthy hold where the representative spoke to a Manager, they informed me that they would drop me completely from the account, but they would be going after payment for July from my Mother who signed the contract and that they had a legally binding, enforceable contract as to her.   Their words, not mine.

 

Suffice it to say, this pissed me off.  At all times the account has been in my name, and I have paid this account for the past 10 years.  Neither my Mom nor Dad have ever utilized the services, nor have they ever made any payments on this account.  Everything was in my name as the member (I was an adult at the time as well), but somehow the contract ended up in my Father's name (who was not even present when I joined) and the contract was signed by my Mom.  If I recall correctly I was training in a free trial class and I guess my Mom filled out the paperwork while I was training.  They've always had my account information, I've always paid, and they've always contacted me for payment over the years (update Credit Card info etc).  Ironic now, considering the circumstances how they had no problems coming to me for payment in the past, but all of a sudden I'm no longer part of the account and they have a legally binding contract with my Mom.  Maybe I should ask for all of my past payments back since apparently I was under the mistaken impression that this account was mine.

 

Simply put, Is the contract enforceable?  Obviously they can't come after me, but I don't want them going after my Mom either and just on principle alone (I can easily afford it) I don't want to pay their extortion fee to cancel.  I've paid over $10,000 to them over the past 10 years, never missing a payment so you would think they could grant some leeway here and waive it regardless, but they made it clear they would be going after my Mom for payment.  Not sure if it's relevant but they never signed the contract either, there is a spot for their business name at the bottom which is blank on the contract they sent me.  What's my recourse here?  Any way out?

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I would log onto the FL Dept of Consumer Affairs website and speak with someone there.  There seems to be an exemption for martial arts studios that use no physical exercise equipment.  If it does use such equipment, a contract can be no longer than three years, although it can provide for annual renewal.   I would also go to www.naca.net and consult with a FL consumer lawyer.  A consultation is free.   The length of the contract and the way it's in your father's name but signed by your mother, all seem problematic to me.

 

Health studios have become increasingly popular as Floridians have become more fitness-conscious. Joining a health club usually involves signing a membership contract and paying dues and fees. In the past, some health studios went out of business after collecting thousands of dollars in prepaid membership dues from consumers. Florida law now affords consumers protection against this type of problem.

The Health Studio Act, administered by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, requires non-exempt health studios to meet certain conditions to operate legally. It also provides for consumer recourse and includes penalties for businesses that do not comply with the law.

Health studios are required to register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. In addition, some health studios also must post security for a limited time. By requiring health studios to provide a bond or other financial security, the Department can provide some financial protection to members of a health club that closes unexpectedly. The funds can then be used to compensate members who purchase long-term contracts.

Who is Exempt From the Law?

Certain health studios are exempt from the department's registration and security requirements. The following types of businesses are exempt:

  • A bona fide non-profit organization which has been granted tax-exempt status by the IRS.
  • A gymnastics school which engages only in instruction and training and in which exercise is incidental to that instruction and training.
  • A golf, tennis, or racquetball club in which sports play is the only activity offered by the club. However, if the facility offers exercise equipment, it is not exempt.
  • A program or facility which is offered and is used solely for the purpose of dance, aerobic exercise or martial arts, and which uses no physical exercise equipment.
  • Country clubs whose main purpose is socialization.
Who is Exempt From Posting Bond, but Required to Register?

The following types of health studios are exempt from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' bonding requirements:

  • Health studios that sell contracts for future health studio services and collect direct payments on a monthly basis for services.
  • Health studios that have been in business under the same ownership at any Florida location for a period of five years. This exemption applies to all current and future locations of an exempt health studio.
  • Health studios that only sell membership contracts of 30 days or less without an option for renewal or any other condition that obligates consumers for longer periods of time.
Requirements for Health Studios

Health studios are required to comply with a number of regulations enforced by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Each health studio must:

  • Register each business location annually with the Department.
  • Pay an annual registration fee of $300 for each location. If required, post security in the form of a surety bond, letter of credit or certificate of deposit, for each location.
  • Prominently post the proof of registration certificate provided by the Department at the registration or front desk of the health studio.
  • Include the registration number issued by the Department in all advertisements, contracts and publications used by the health studio.
  • Meet the registration requirements each time the studio changes ownership, corporate control or management.
Consumer Rights

The law protects consumers by registering health studios and allowing the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to maintain a listing of all registered studios in the state. Consumers can check with the department to see if complaints have been filed against a health studio they may be considering joining. Consumers can also file complaints against a health studio with the department.

Consumers have the following rights when dealing with health studios. By law, health studios must:

  • Notify consumers each time the studio changes owners, corporate control or management.
  • Post a certificate of registration in a visible location within the business.
  • Include their registration number in all contracts and advertisements.
  • Refrain from offering a lifetime membership. This type of membership has been prohibited since 1979. Contracts signed prior to that date are binding on the original studio. If a studio has provided lifetime contracts and goes out of business, other health studios do not have to accept memberships of the defunct studio.
  • Refund consumer's unused portion of their membership funds within 30 days if the consumer cancels their membership contract for any valid reason allowed under the law.
  • By requiring health studios to provide a bond or other financial security, the Department can provide some financial protection to members of a health club that closes unexpectedly. The funds can then be used to compensate members who purchase long-term contracts.

Under the law, if long-term memberships are offered, the contract must contain the following consumer protections:

  • It must allow for the contract to be canceled within three business days, excluding weekends and legal holidays. The member must give notice in writing, either mailed or hand-delivered within three days of signing the contract.
  • The contract must have a provision for the cancellation and refund of the contract if the studio goes out of business, or moves its facilities more than 5 driving miles from the business location designated in such contract and fails to provide, within 30 days, a facility of equal quality located within 5 driving miles of the business location designated in the contract at no additional cost to the member.
  • The contract must have a provision that if the studio goes out of business, or if the location is moved more than five driving miles from the present location, it will provide an alternate facility under the same ownership at no additional cost to the member. Otherwise, consumers have the right to cancel the contract. A studio is considered to be closed if it closes for more than seven consecutive days, or for more than two periods of seven consecutive days in any calendar year.
  • The contract must also have a provision that if a member dies or becomes physically unable to use the facilities, a contract can be canceled and a refund issued for the unused time.
  • The contract may not obligate the consumer for a period longer than three years, although it may provide for annual renewal.
  • If the health studio is not required to post security, the contract must include a disclosure statement advising the buyer of that fact and of the risks of paying for more than 1 month in advance.
  • A provision advising the buyer to contact the department for information within 60 days should the studio go out of business.
  •  
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I don't think any of that would be applicable.  They would claim exemption as a martial arts studio, and the contract was month to month.  The only reason it lasted 10 years is because my account was actively being paid monthly for 10 years.  The fact that the contract is in my Dad's name, but signed by my Mom I don't think is significant because they are Husband and Wife.  

 

I feel like the easiest way out of this would be to flip it on them.  If they want to insist it's not my account, and that the contract is only legally enforceable to my parents, I should be able to seek a refund for past payments since I had been paying it under the false premise that this was my account and that they unjustly enriched themselves at my expense since it was never my obligation to pay it. The lady kept quoting "legally" to me on the phone, despite the fact she likely has no law experience.  I would have no problems informing them based on this contract that "legally" I don't owe them a cent and never did according to them.  Since I'm not a party to the contract I would "legally" like my money back that I paid under the false assumption the account was mine, and they are free to pursue all collection of it from my parents if they so choose since "legally" it's their contract.   Hey, if they want to get technical about it, I have no problems getting technical. 

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You are not going to get a refund for past payments because you got the benefits of those payments the use of the membership.  Under basic contract law they cannot come after you since you did not sign the contract but they can come after your parents as the ones who did sign the contract even if it was for a membership for someone else.  Had you not paid the fees the would have gone after your parents back then.  There may even be language in the contract stating that the member is also responsible if the contracting person who joins for them doesn't pay.

 

Why not simply give the 30 days notice and move on?  You are making this way more complicated than it needs to be.  Most places like this have a 30 day notice to cancel the contract so you should not be surprised.  Even if you stop going/paying the only ones who have an actual issue with this is your parents since the originally signed the contract on your behalf as a minor.

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You are not going to get a refund for past payments because you got the benefits of those payments the use of the membership.  Under basic contract law they cannot come after you since you did not sign the contract but they can come after your parents as the ones who did sign the contract even if it was for a membership for someone else.  Had you not paid the fees the would have gone after your parents back then.  There may even be language in the contract stating that the member is also responsible if the contracting person who joins for them doesn't pay.

 

Why not simply give the 30 days notice and move on?  You are making this way more complicated than it needs to be.  Most places like this have a 30 day notice to cancel the contract so you should not be surprised.  Even if you stop going/paying the only ones who have an actual issue with this is your parents since the originally signed the contract on your behalf as a minor.

 

As stated in my original post, I was not a minor when the contract was entered into.  There is no language in the contract stating the member is responsible.  They've always contacted me for payment over the years, never my parents.  In all aspects this was treated like it was my account except now, when cancelling, all of a sudden it's a contract with my parents which they are going to enforce.  I did give the 30 days notice, but I have no intentions of using the service for an additional 30 days and would rather not have to make a payment for services I have no intention of using.  It's just principle, I can easily afford it I just don't think I should have to pay it because I had no knowledge of the 30 day requirement.  If you want to say that I was the beneficiary of the services, then at the same time, wouldn't that mean the contract lacks consideration to the person who signed it?  If I was responsible for payments, and I enjoyed the services, what is the benefit she received from the contract?  There is none and therefore it is not a valid contract.  If you simply want to say she was a co-signer guaranteeing payment, then it should've had both of our signatures on there. 

 

The way I would logically interpret this is that the contract is void as to my parents because it lacks consideration to them.  They received no benefit.  In its place, a verbal implied contract was created between myself and the business due to the continuing receipt of services and payment.  I received services, and I paid for those services.  Therefore, they can not enforce the required 30 day written notice with me as I have never entered into a written contract agreeing to those terms.   They can not enforce it to my parents as that contract is not valid because it lacks consideration to my parents who did not receive any benefit from the contract. 

 

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/consideration-every-contract-needs-33361.html

 

What Is Consideration?

Consideration is the benefit that each party gets or expects to get from the contractual deal -- for example, Victoria's Secret gets your money; you get the cashmere robe.

In order for consideration to provide a valid basis for a contract -- and remember that every valid contract must have consideration -- each party must make a change in their "position." Consideration is usually either the result of:

  • a promise to do something you're not legally obligated to do, or
  • a promise not to do something you have the right to do (often, this means a promise not to file a lawsuit).

Sometimes this change in position is also called a "bargained-for detriment."

How does consideration work in the real world? Let's say you backed into your neighbor's golf cart and damaged it. Your neighbor is legally permitted to sue you for the damage but instead agrees not to sue you if you pay him $1,000. This agreement provides adequate consideration for the contract, because each party is giving up something in the exchange -- you're giving up some of your money while your neighbor is giving up the right to sue you.

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I sent them an email last night stating that they do not have my authorization to bill my card for July, I would not be utilizing the services in July, and requesting the cancellation be effective the date of the email, 6/30/2014, as I have never entered into a written contract requiring 30 days notice.  As they stated they are intending to enforce the contract with my parents, they can contact them to work that out and I provided them with my Dad's contact information (I gave them his law firm information).  Their automated email says they will respond within 5 days.

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@graym
 

 

They can not enforce it to my parents as that contract is not valid because it lacks consideration to my parents who did not receive any benefit from the contract.

 

 

Your mom signed the contract knowing that she would not be utilizing the services of the business.  Instead, she expected that you would be able to utilize those services.  Therefore, she did receive consideration. 

 

Before doing anything, I'd speak to an attorney to see what recourse, if any, the business might have against your parents.

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@graym

 

 

Your mom signed the contract knowing that she would not be utilizing the services of the business.  Instead, she expected that you would be able to utilize those services.  Therefore, she did receive consideration. 

 

Before doing anything, I'd speak to an attorney to see what recourse, if any, the business might have against your parents.

 

Yes, but she wasn't paying so it wasn't necessary for her to enter into the contract for me to be able to utilize those services.  If the consideration was that I would be able to utilize the services based on her contract to pay, then why were they coming to me for payment for the past 10 years?  It was never my obligation to pay, it was her obligation based on that interpretation of the contract.  Therefore, I should be within my rights to request a refund of my money since it was never my obligation to pay and I paid it mistakenly believing that it was.  You don't get to choose to enforce a contract only when it is to your benefit.  It goes both ways.  I would never interpret it that way, but that's how they are interpreting it.

 

My Dad is an Attorney so I'm not too worried about dumping it on them. 

 

PS: Go USA!!!!!! Belgium is going down!

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@graym

 

I know it wasn't necessary for her to enter into the contract, but she chose to do so by signing the contract.  The reason they were coming after you is because you've been willingly paying.   If you would be entitled to a refund, they might go after your parents. 

 

If you were behind on credit cards, and your parents made payments for you, they would not, at a later date, be able to demand a refund from the credit card company.   They'd have to get the money from you.  A court might very well tell you that your "refund" would have to come from your parents.

 

Like I said, speak to an attorney.  Find out if you have the right to a refund and if the business can demand payment from your parents.  Then go from there. 

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@graym

 

I know it wasn't necessary for her to enter into the contract, but she chose to do so by signing the contract.  The reason they were coming after you is because you've been willingly paying.   If you would be entitled to a refund, they might go after your parents. 

 

If you were behind on credit cards, and your parents made payments for you, they would not, at a later date, be able to demand a refund from the credit card company.   They'd have to get the money from you.  A court might very well tell you that your "refund" would have to come from your parents.

 

 

 

Your scenario is not apples to apples.  In your scenario, if I fell behind on payments and my Parents paid on my behalf, they were knowingly and willingly paying my bill for me.  The key distinction there is knowingly and willingly.  In this instance, I thought this account was mine and it was my legal obligation to pay it.  At all times, I paid it under these pretenses and had no knowledge whatsoever that this was under a contract with my Mom.  I never knowingly, and willingly paid my Mom's bills, it was paid by error on the belief that they were my bills.  Completely different scenario then the one you listed.  My recourse would be with the company that I mistakenly paid, and not with my Parents who are a third party.

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This falls under the heading of "life is too short". Why would you cause all these issues for your parents over 1 month's fees? Are they that much? I am betting this is no more than $300 - $500 and you are about to cause a huge family rift over it. Pay the July fees with the understanding that as of August 1st, you are not a member and will pay no more fees. Then you are done with it.

Otherwise, you will be cause the people you supposedly love a huge amount of stress just to prove a point. Sorry, I have better things to do and  am sure you and your parents do too.

BTW, since your mother signed the contract, she will be and has been responsible for the fees. However, you are not entitled a refund from the studio, you have to sue your mother. Good luck with that.

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My Dad is an Attorney so I'm not too worried about dumping it on them. 

 

Hopefully he understands contract law a lot better than you do.  His being a lawyer does not prevent them from enforcing the contract in fact it might make it easier since he should be acutely aware that his wife is liable for the contract as the one who signed it regardless of her assigning the benefits of it to you.  

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Well I caused a rift for a different reason lol.  When I explained to my Dad that the contract was in his name just now, but signed for by my Mom, he was none too happy.  Now he wants to look at the contract.   I figured that Married Couples could sign for one another, but apparently not.  

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Hopefully he understands contract law a lot better than you do.  His being a lawyer does not prevent them from enforcing the contract in fact it might make it easier since he should be acutely aware that his wife is liable for the contract as the one who signed it regardless of her assigning the benefits of it to you.  

 

Obviously he knows contract law better than I do.  If I was knowledgeable about contract law I wouldn't be seeking answers on this forum.  Safe assumption.

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So, great result!  They agreed to drop the charges for July.  All it took was 1 additional phone call and an E-mail pointing out that their contract was not valid because it was not signed by the Buyer listed on the contract.  Thank you to all who offered help!  To the rest of you advising me to pay a debt I didn't owe and move on, for shame!  If you guys would like to pay for a service you are not receiving, be my guest, but I'm definitely not going to be doing it and I'm quite glad I fought this one. 

 

Plus, I learned some things about contract law in the process.  Knowledge is power, win / win.

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@graym

 

I think the reason some suggested that you pay was to avoid possible repercussions against your parents.  The fact that you've continued to pay each month even though you may not have been utilizing the services of the business was your choice.

 

Even though the business did provide services, you suggested that you were willing to try to get a refund.  In that instance, if there was any shame, it would be yours.

 

You have a father who's an attorney, yet you asked for suggestions here, and they were offered.   There is no shame in what those posters suggested when it was merely to protect your parents and/or help you avoid a possible headache.

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As one of those who you think should be hanging their head in shame, I am saying that I am not.

The advice I gave assumes that most parents are not as well versed as your father in contract law and hence, would probably not find what I call a loophole. I have to wonder why you even came here considering your father's knowledge, why did you not go to him first? Most of the people on this board are not attorneys and in most cases, would probably have to pay someone like your father as much as the debt in order to get the same information. Therefore, it is easier to pay the bill and protect our parents. As I said, this fell under the heading of "Life is too short!" for me.

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My Dad was able to confirm 100% that it is not a valid contract because the person who signed it did not have his authorization to sign it.  After I posted above that this was resolved, I received an email from the company stating they would continue to pursue it (even after someone I spoke with on the phone told me they would stop pursuing it).  I called back and got a complete jerk on the phone so I hung up and simply filed a complaint against them with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and then responded to their email by attaching the complaint I filed and informing them what this representative told me over the phone which I put in the complaint.  Specifically, he informed me that their company could change the buyer information on the contract because it was filled out in error and enforce it against my Mother who signed it and that they would report my Mother to the Credit Reporting Agencies if we didn't pay the bill for July.  I even informed him that my Dad who is an Attorney looked at the contract and stated it was not a valid contract because the person who signed it did not have his authorization to sign it for him, and the representative explained to me that my Dad was wrong.  I asked him what Law School he went to and he told me he hasn't gone to any law school, but he's been doing this a long time so apparently that makes him an expert in contract law.  I told him that he should consult with their legal department and he informed me that they don't have one, so I just laughed at him and told him, not surprising. 

 

I know this is more work then most of you would put forth for such a minor issue, but it's principle to me.  It took me only 10 minutes to fill out the complaint, another 5 minutes on the phone.  It looks like their company was previously registered in Florida but no longer is, so we'll see how that pans out as well.  As it stands now I'll simply let the Consumer Affairs office handle it.  Considering an Attorney has looked at the contract and stated that the contract they are trying to enforce is not valid, it shouldn't be that difficult to fix this.  All I asked for in the complaint was that they cease attempts to bill for July since I cancelled in June and will not be using services in July.  Quite a fair request. 

 

In regards to why didn't I just ask my Dad earlier, I did.  I think that two sets of eyes are better than one, and there's a chance someone here will catch something he misses.  Civil is not his area of expertise.  Just because someone is an Attorney does not make them knowledgeable in all fields of law.  Secondly, for such a relatively minor amount, I know my Dad and he would rather pay a bogus bill then fight it.  I personally disagree with simply paying something not owed just on principle.  Some of these companies thrive on people simply paying bogus bills.   As far as the reference that it's a "loophole" I would disagree with that assertion as well.  He never saw, nor signed the contract so that's not a loophole to me, that's just the way contracts work.  Additionally, I view these types of things as learning experiences.  I did not know that one party could not sign for another party, even if it is Husband/Wife, and that knowledge is valuable to me.  Apparently, nobody else here knew that either.  You never know when that knowledge will come in handy down the line.

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I also find internet data mining funny.  The company I just filed a complaint against just appeared in advertisements for me on espn.com and amazon.com.  Obviously, because I'm looking for this companies services. 

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Maybe there is a reason your father would just simply pay the bill rather than fight. Maybe, as a attorney, he knows something that you are missing here and it is the same thing that many of us here understand too. I will try to say it.

What many people miss is that the try to remove the "personal" part of personal finance. If everything was simply on the basis of contract law and mathematics, most people would have a lawyer review any contract before signing it and they certainly would not get a credit card, payday loan, or whole life insurance. All this is done because there is another factor that is part of the equation and that is the personal part.

In this case, you plan on unloading the pain of your decisions onto your mother who will be the one they chase. Since your father is married to your mother (and I believe Florida is a community property state), he will also have to deal with this even though he is not a signatory on the contract. The question then becomes, is this worth it to fight should it get to a stage that I call scorched earth. This means everyone digs in and will fight until the bitter end. I am reviewing a case from the 1920s/1930s (it went on for 10+ years) that went scorched earth, including 4 hearings at the State Supreme Court. It gets to the point where the only winners are the lawyers. Is your father, who is an attorney with at least 20 years (and possibly 30 years) experience and as such, has seen cases like this, willing to go that route for a couple of hundred dollars when it will hurt his wife and himself? Probably not.

You see, fighting on principle costs money. In this case, you don't care because the monetary cost of this fight will be bore by someone else. What you are forgetting however is that you are going to alter the family dynamic in such a way that it will never be changed back. Is a couple of hundred dollars worth you never talking to your mother again? That could possibly happen here. Is a couple of hundred of dollars worth your siblings treating you like crap on every holiday? That could happen. This is all the personal stuff that you are not adding into the equation.

Now there are situations where it is worth it to fight on principle. This really is not one of them.

BTW - I hope you got that call recorded with the other agent and you informed them you were recording the call. Otherwise, it is simply a he said/she said situation.

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Graym,

A couple of things to remember or consider as you take your trek into the legal octogon. Taking this fight to its conclusion could take more time than you have considered. Here is why? First until someone in your family or all three of you decide to write and send the 30 day notice of cancelation, they will continue to bill for the service. Because you have brought to the companies attention your displeasure, I would read the contract carefully and make sure your "Notice of Cancelation" is done precisely how it is outlined in the contract.

You see being a PIA can work both ways, if someone decides to play hardball with you as you have with them it can be unpleasant.

These type of contracts are built to the favor of the companies, knowing that most folks will do what you have done. They will make a few more dollars by the time you figure out that until you send the 30 day Cancelation Notice, they will get paid. Sure you can close your credit card account or bank account, as most of these require an automatic withdrawal from some account. That just means they won't get the money right away. But it will create a debt!

So do yourself and your family a favor and send the Cancelation Notice before August 1st. That way your fight will be about (1) months payments.

They are banking on that you will stand on you PRINCIPALS, verses what is listed on the 4 corners of the contract and the bill will get bigger and bigger.

Point being as others have made, and even your father, would tell you. First step in any situation is limit your exposure or damages, if you are wrong!!!!!!!

Best of Luck

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I've already sent in the written notice of cancellation so that part is done.  I also have little to no interest in getting into a legal battle over such a small amount of money.  What gets me about this is that I never knew about the contract, I never entered into the contract, and I've been attending the school and paying the account from start to finish for 10 years.  I think what happened was that during my first class, my Mom filled out the paperwork because she wanted to make sure she was listed as the emergency contact.  That's just her being a mother, but I don't think she realized she was signing a contract.  I tend to believe that, because my Mom wouldn't just sign her name to a contract in my Dad's name, especially without talking to him first.  I also have no idea why the school allowed both my Mom to sign a contract in my Dad's name, and why the contract was in my Dad's name at all because my Dad wasn't even there.  The contract should have been in my name since I was joining and I was paying.  Giant mess there and I never even knew this contract existed for 10 years.  If I had, I would've handled things a little differently in the past because I was limited to a max of 3 months hold per 12 months and was forced to pay for a significant number of months I never attended the school over the years, and that limitation is not in the contract at all. 

 

Generally, I feel that the school has made a lot of money off of me for months I never attended and only had an "active" account because I was told I could not place the account on hold.  It's those months that upset me, because I never utilized the services and informed them in advance I would not be using the services yet still got billed, and still paid it.  After all of that, they are choosing to argue with me over the final month yet I've paid them many thousands of dollars over the years on months I never attended a single class.  So, to me, I'm putting my foot down now because the entire situation has left a giant sour taste in my mouth.  Anger aside, I honestly feel that I've been cheated.

 

I sent written notice of cancellation in June, yet they are insisting on billing for July stating the contract requires 30 days written notice to cancel.  So the contract is enforced when it's to their benefit, but not when it would have been to my benefit.  My requests for account holds were denied based on arbitrary limits that never existed.  Additionally, it's not even a valid contract.  They're attempting to enforce a contract that was never properly entered into and has no legal effect.  They don't even care, their customer service staff is apparently contract law experts and will attempt to enforce it anyway.  If it were in my name, I would handle this completely differently but it's not.  They are going to go after my parents who have never attended the school, never made a payment on the account, and have no link to this in any way, shape or form except for the fact my Mom apparently signed a contract by mistake 10 years ago.  They don't even have any legal authority with which to bill, but they are going to do it anyway.  I've looked this company up and they are horrible about harassing people who owe money.  I've read many horror stories about them on the internet, people saying they will call 4+ times daily.  I'd also assume they will report to the CRA's as well if it goes unpaid for 90 days (One Rep already threatened this and it's not even late yet).  I would handle it myself, no problem, but the harassing phone calls likely won't be coming to me, they'll be to my parents which isn't fair to them.  So, I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Pay a completely bogus bill which I refuse to do, or my parents are likely about to get harassed by this firm which is basically a collection agency and the fact that they have zero legal authority with which to justify the bill apparently means nothing to them. 

 

So, I think I handled it correctly by filing a complaint with the Consumer Affairs office.  I'll look up if there is another agency I can file a complaint with.  Who knows, the complaint might solve the whole issue.  My goal here is definitely not litigation which I view as a last, last resort despite the fact I might let my anger seep into my posts sometimes.  Cooler heads prevail.  My goal is to fix this bogus bill without my parents getting harassed.  I do not like these collection agencies though.  I've said this in other threads but there should be better protection laws for consumers out there.  I only found these forums when I saw how my girlfriend was being harassed due to issues she had prior to us meeting.  Some of it was identity theft from an old fiance, some of it was legitimately her debt.  Some accounts were paid and she just didn't receive proper credit but I had to push my girlfriend to fight back instead of burying her head in the sand and since doing so she has taken the reins and she's made real progress improving her credit.  These forums have been a great help.  Additionally, she's likely about to win her only court case.  She's waiting on a ruling from the District Court which is expected sometime in August.  You definitely have to skirt that line of when to fight, and when to back off and most people would probably not choose to fight this one but that's just the way I am.  I just feel that there is something inherently wrong with what this company is doing.  Repeatedly attempting to bill off an invalid contract that has been disputed without doing anything to verify whether or not the contract is valid should result in a fine for a collection agency.  The next step is to find out what other recourse and/or protections exist against collection agencies like this.  It is what it is, I don't mind fighting it at all, my only concern is getting my parents involved.

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Gosh, is collecting on a invalid contract resulted in a fine every time a collection agency does that, this board and most collection agencies would not exist. The reality is, unless informed otherwise in a court of law, the presumption is that the collection agency can believe that the contract is valid. Even the FDCPA says that for validation, all they have to prove is the amount of debt and that they are trying to collect from the person who owes the debt.

You parents got involved in this 10 years ago when your mother signed the contract. You paying the bill did not absolve your mother of that obligation. The creditor does not care who is paying the money as long as they get paid. If they don't get paid however, they still can go after the signer of the contract to get paid which is your mother. And yes, they will enforce the contract even if the other party did not try to enforce their side of the contract. You (or your mother) should have requested the contract years ago when you started having issue to see what is really said. That is not the other parties fault.

Your complaint might stop them but if they and the collection agency they deal with are really this bad, then complaints have already been filed without any resolution to the complainant. Therefore, I would still be read to pay regardless of what the state agency does.

The only ace in the hole here is if the collection agency is a 3rd party agency and they start to pull this crap on your mother, you father may be able to introduce the to federal court and they will probably not be happy to be there.

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