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Today I received an sms from JM Attorneys stating that Planet

Customer Question
Fitness have handed me over...
Today I received an sms from JM Attorneys stating that Planet Fitness have handed me over for an amount of R6182. I took out the original 36 month contract on 23 June 2005 for and paid an amount of R8344 for my wife and I. There was only one additional amount that I had to pay and that was a R229 annual levy.

On my copy of the contract there is a section for this R229 annual levy and for debit orders to be filled in. The contract in this section stipulates that after the initial 36 month period is completed they have the right to deduct R229 per month, but the salesman assured me that we had to complete this section so that the R229 annual levy could be taken but would not be for an annual debit order. I was unsure so we left that section empty (I did not put in my account details) and I said I would pay this manually each year and he said that would be fine.

The initial contract ended 1 December 2008. They do not have my bank account details, but in 19months I have not received a single phonecall, letter or email requesting payment, yet they now get me on my cell which is the same as then. The contract states that after 2 payments have been missed they will follow legal processes. I fthis happened the misunderstanding could have been rectified at a low cost, but now after 19 months the figure they want is ridiculous.

Furthermore, we left johannesburg in June 2006. I tried to contact Planet Fitness telephonically to try find out how to get the contract moved to another branch. No luck. i then went into the bracnh with a letter requesting the change. They said they couldn't do it but when in Cape Town I should ask my new branch to organise it. I tried to do this on several occassions and even paid them a fee to have it moved - but it never was (although we completed all their forms etc to do so). The gym was not a Megaclub like in Jhb so we decided to move to a Virgin Active which is closer and nicer. But we gave Planet Fitness a letter (physically) stating that we would be terminating our contracts. They said that they would submit the letter for us. I do not have a copy of this letter or proof of letter as I submitted physically and never thought that I would need a copy - how naive. I do acknowledge that I possibly owe them R229 annual levy for 5 years a sthis was how the "debit order/annual levy section" was explained (misrepresented ) to me by the salesman. What are my options here. Apparently these attorneys are really tough and do not work with people to sort things out. I don't have money for this or for legal fees. Someon eplease help us.
Submitted: 7 years ago.Category: South Africa Law
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Answered in 1 hour by:
7/3/2010
Lawyer: Mike Otis, Legal Advisor replied 7 years ago
Mike Otis
Mike Otis, Legal Advisor
Category: South Africa Law
Satisfied Customers: 2,161
Experience: B.Comm; LL.B; LL.M.
Verified
Dear Sir,

Thank you for your question. JM Attorneys are in fact debt collectors. As you have experienced, debt collectors tend to take a very aggressive (and uncompromising) approach to debt collecting. In my opinion, there does not seem to be any basis upon which they can claim the annual levy for 5 years if the contract was only for 3 years.

Furthermore, you are fully entitled to a breakdown of any alleged debts owed to Planet Fitness. While it is advisable to instruct a local attorney to act on your behalf, you could also request these details yourself.

Another issue that needs your attention is the choice of clause that is usually contained in a membership contract of this nature. Please read through your contract to establish exactly what you need to do to change your chosen to your present address. Usually, it is required that you advise Planet Fitness in writing (registered post) of your new address. If this is not required, do it anyway, and send a similar notice to JM Attorneys. The importance of this lies in the fact that JM Attorneys would be entitled to serve summons at your (previous) chosen domicilium address. If you are not aware of the summons, they will proceed to take default judgment against you, which would place you at a disadvantage in the further conduct of this matter.

Changing your domicilium address would force them, if they are serious about pursuing this matter, to serve summons on you at your new address (or your place of employment), which will enable you to timeously defend the action.

Once you receive summons, it is advisable to instruct an attorney to represent you. In terms of the magistrates' rules (rules 15 & 16), you will be entitled to request copies of all statements & other particulars of their claim. Bear in mind that there are time limits to all these steps, so urgency is of the essence.

It is important, when dealing with debt collectors, to not allow them to intimidate you. Stand your ground and get legal representation if necessary.

I trust you find the above in order.

Yours faithfully,
Mike Otis
Mike Otis, Legal Advisor
Category: South Africa Law
Satisfied Customers: 2,161
Experience: B.Comm; LL.B; LL.M.
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