Legal Advice: Are Melbourne University Sports Fees and Fines Ilegal or Unethical?

Hi all,

I would highly appreciate your opinion on how ethical (or even ilegal) is the business model of the Sports facilities at Melbourne University.

The system at first glance seems simple: Direct debit with fortnight payments OR upfront monthly payment. Because is convenient, most people choose the direct debit option, but here is the catch:

  • If for any reason the automatic debit fails, a $15 fine is added to your fees.
  • There is no way to waive the fees. Sometimes it might be a bank/card issue, sometimes your account might have too little money, but still they enforce the fine in all cases.
  • You can't use the facilities until you pay the fine, but they will still continue charging you! In fact, while the payment method is unresolved, your fortnight payment fees and additional $15 fines keep adding up indefinitely.

There are also a few other things which are strange:

  • You can only pause the memberships on a Wednesday BUT if you let them know a WEEK in ADVANCE. So for example, if you have an emergency or feel sick on Thursday, you can't pause until 14 days later. This make membership pauses pretty useless.
  • They still charge you fortnight fees even in periods when the facilities are fully closed. For example Christmas/ New Year which is close, you will still get a debit (and a fine if it fails…)

I understand sports facilities business model relies on people singing up and, in many cases, never using them. However the current system is predatory to members as it relies in maximizing income by:

1) Offering a prepaid service which you are liable for, but however they withhold access to the service.
2) They don't drop your membership. They keep charging your membership and late fees for months. You can't use the facilities in all this time.

Key questions:

1) Is it legal to charge a processing payment fine for fortnight debit?
2) Shouldn't UNIMELB SPORTS stop the membership immediately once the payment is refused? Why do they keep charging you for facilities you can't use?
3) Should't they allow members to pause memberships as they prefer?
4) Shouldn't they stop charging members for facilities they can't use?

I am happy to prepare a letter to the Ombudsman so he is aware of this situation and hopefully stop the abuse.

Thanks for your comments!

EDIT 7/09 10am:

  • Thank you all for your feedback! Just to clarify:

a) I understand the contract specifies the fines clearly, that is not unders discussion.
b) They key question is if UNIMELB should keep charging members for a service that is not providing. Why would it keep charging a membership fee, when in practice members can't use the facilities?

Examples of services that you get fined, but you can continue to use:

  • Mobile: How would you feel if they would give you an invoice for your monthly phone plan, but you couldn't use it until you pay a fine?
  • Internet: How would you feel if they give you the invoice for your internet monthly plan, but you couldn't use it until you pay a previous fine?

EDIT2 7/09 11am:
- Fortnight contracts do not require a 12 month contract. Jus a minimum of ~4 months, after which you can retire at any time.
- Unimelb charges IN ADVANCE for the use of the facilities. When you miss the payment, they make you liable for the upcoming to weeks but you can't use until you pay the fine. That's absurd

EDIT 8/09
After several days of discussion there has been not one single example of a business which follow UNIMELB Sports Centre questionalbe practices. Any service provider will at least give you a notice, and grace period. I haven't seen one who will charge for a service not provided, and I am looking for examples.

Comments

        • this is the perfect example.

          Like spackbace said, it is too easy for people to just stop paying and walk away from an agreed contract.

          imagine you are running a gym and have 200 members on contract. You decided that equipment is not sufficient for the number of people and went on to expand your gym. All of a sudden, people decide to not pay and are not liable for further payments. it wouldnt be too nice now that you have spent all the money on expansion?

          Similar to mobile phone service provider. They have contracts in place typically for mutual benefit as the user will have a lower cost in a longer term contract.

        • -1

          @M1ndFu7: Look, I am not complaining on the fine.
          As specified in the description, you will be fined and you are liable for the missed payment in all cases.
          The issue in the gym is that you have to pay every two weeks IN ADVANCE, and if you miss that payment, they will still make you liable of those two weeks until you fix the payment method. And you can't access the facilities.
          If you are going to be liable, they might as well let you use it.
          It is the same with phone providers, they will not suddenly cancel your contract, they will give you a grace period of a few months before doing a full cancelation. And they will make sure to offer you the service you are liable for.

        • +1

          @manabeins:

          So what if someone closes that bank account/credit card, so payment will repetitively bounce. At what point should they be cut off from the gym, a service they're not paying for?

        • -2

          @Spackbace:
          Good question! They could follow mobile plans providers system: at least one fortnight up to 1 month after which a cancelation is notice is given. Yes, there is a risk some people might not pay regardless, BUT at the very least they had access for a service they are liable for.
          It will be absurd for the phone company to say: He didn't pay a monthly service we didn't give him, but he still have to pay. I don't get it why is different for Sports Unimelb

        • +2

          @manabeins:

          Why should a private company offer a grace period? If you're not paying to use their services, you're not a member. If anything happens in the gym, and you're there without being a member, you're likely not covered under their public liability. Not to mention, you're basically trespassing.

          Membership allows you entry to the gym. It's a private company, they can decide who enters their premises and under what grounds. Casinos have a dress code, and are perfectly allowed to set that condition because they're a private company.

          The fact you have to pay to use the gym is no different. You don't pay, you don't gain entry, simple.

        • +1

          @manabeins:

          Mobile phone companies have easy ways of claiming the debt back, and have millions of customers. They can sell a debt to a debt collector, let them go after it and they're fine. Such is their profit margins they don't care, it's factored into their cost of business.

          A gym doesn't have that many members, and especially a uni gym has overseas students. Once they leave the country, their debt is gone.

          So the long and the short of it, gyms don't have the profit margin to cop freeloaders.

        • @Spackbace:

          The fact you have to pay to use the gym is no different. You don't pay, you don't gain entry, simple.
          I fully agree with this!

          But their slogan is : "You are liable to pay, but you don't gain entry, simple"

          Mobile phone companies have easy ways of claiming the debt back, and have millions of customers. They can sell a debt to a debt collector, let them go after it and they're fine. Such is their profit margins they don't care, it's factored into their cost of business.

          Very interesting, I didn't know this is the case.

          A gym doesn't have that many members, and especially a uni gym has overseas students. Once they leave the country, their debt is gone.

          I am aware there are lots of international students. But just to put 1 week for late payments won't make a huge different.

      • +1

        (to charge for service they don't provide)

        I swear to god you still haven't read your contract have you?

        I haven't either, and yet I'm willing to bet that it's a yearly (not monthly) membership. It's just that the gym allows you to pay in monthly installments. The fee is to be a member of the gym for that year. Whether or not you use it. Your membership privileges get suspended when you're not current - but the fees are incurred WHEN YOU SIGN UP, not every month.

        • -1

          http://www.sport.unimelb.edu.au/TermsConditions

          What are your thoughts on this:

          "1.1 Direct Debit Payments Are made in advance for the upcoming fortnight, for the agreed amount, as stated on the Membership Application from your nominated bank or credit card account. The Direct Debit Membership Agreement is valid for a minimum of 8 fortnightly direct debits (automated) and then is ongoing."

          It's un usual right?

        • +1

          @manabeins: No, it reads as completely standard.

          What do you think is unusual about it?

          (Also - note this is the direct debit agreement, not the membership agreement which could be a different timeframe.)

        • -1

          @HighAndDry:
          I call it unusual because people is used for gyms to have a monthly or locked-in yearly contracts. For example a few messages ago you mentioned I am paying in installments, but that is not the case. There is also no cancelation fee after the firs 8 fortnights. This "ongoing contract" is more similar to the system mobile plans providers use BUT contrary to mobile companies, sports unimelb charge the service in advance and that is what make it unusual.

          After all this discussion, I am still trying to find a good example (even one) of a business who:

          1) Charge for a service in advance
          2) Makes you liable of the service if your payment doesn't go through.
          3) Don't let you use the service even though you area liable to pay it.

        • +2

          @manabeins:

          I call it unusual because people is used for gyms to have a monthly or locked-in yearly contracts.

          So this is a 16 week contract. What's strange about that?

        • -1

          @HighAndDry:
          Well maybe I am not clear in what I am trying to say. I am trying to emphasize this is not a locked-in contract issue.

          So if you find a business which: Charges in advance for an ongoing service, makes you liable if payment doesn't go through, AND refuse to provide the aforementioned service..

          Let me know ;)

          I can't think of an example yet

        • @manabeins: Nah, I've kinda lost interest in this discussion. In any case, even in an "ongoing" contract, there are still things you need to do to cancel it. You can't just stop paying and expect nothing to happen.

      • Internet and mobile both cut off service when in arrears and continue to charge monthly contract fees, if you continue remain in arrears they can terminate the contract and charge you the remaining monthly payments as the termination fee.

        If you had 20 months remaining in your contact at $50/month you would be charged $1000 to conver the remaining contract period - during the 20 months you get NO SERVICE.

  • +3

    WA vehicle registration - if you don't pay it, you can't drive your car. Yet if you go to pay it, it starts from the day it expired and not from the day you paid.

    Ergo it's identical - you don't pay, you can't use it, but in a way they're still charging you.

    And that's set up by the government, not a private entity.

    mic drop

    • -5

      hahaha,

      Excellent! Finally a good example. However vehicle registration is a tax not on something you don't necessarily use, but that you own. If you have a car, you will pay the tax regardless of the usage. Similar to taxes on other properties as houses.

      A gym is not a property but a service

      Drop mic back ;)

      • +1

        Nope, don't have to have it registered if you're not driving it on public roads. You can still own it without having it registered.

        • Yes you can also have a phone without a plan to play games at home ;)
          We are talking about paying for a service hehe

      • see example i shown above. It is a service to you, but property to the owner which requires protection.

        • As I mentioned above, I agree with the fine, that's ok.
          I don't agree with giving you a fine and to withhold service. I can't think of an example in which a company do so. Either you are liable but we offer you the service for that period, or you don't get service.

    • How would you feel if they charge you for your monthly phone plan, but you couldn't use it?

    If my understanding is right, there is a key difference here.

    • If the payment had gone through, your membership will be active and you get to use the facilities.

    • If the payment bounce, you are liable for the cost/charges, but you are not allowed to use the facility until it has been resolved (paid off).

    So when you are posing the above question, which is it? has the payment gone through or not? If it hasnt, then it is not reasonable to expect to that the facilities are accessible i presume?

    2) Shouldn't UNIMELB SPORTS stop the membership immediately once the payment is refused? Why do they keep charging you for facilities you can't use?
    There maybe an agreement to begin with that states a minimum term say 12months. So the member will be liable for the full term. It makes perfect sense to limit the members accessibility to the facility until the payment issue is resolved.

    3) Should't they allow members to pause memberships as they prefer?
    depending on terms an condition, but i think it is typically for longer term unforeseen circumstances. Such as requiremet to travel etc. Hence the longer warning period.

    • I make a comparison between Mobile plans providers and sports unimelb, because both offer you a service.

      Mobile plans are not suddenly stopped if you miss a payment, they give you a fine, but still continue providing the service. Sports unimelb block access.

      However the issue is not only that they block the access, but that they still charge you for the membership. If they want to block access I am ok with it, but to continue charging? I can't think of an example like that.
      And by the way the contract is not 12 months, it is just an ongoing fortnight payment. Very similar to monthly renewed mobile plans

      • if it is infact an ongoing contract with no fixed term, then i do agree that the GYM "should" at some point (eg after 2 failed payment) to terminate the membership and stop on-going charges.

        note that this may not be their standard practice and they may not be much of a gentleman on this. Continue to charge a member after xx number of failed payment is predatory business practice in my opinion.

        • thank you!

          For the record, they will continue charging for 3 months, quite predatory in my opinion.

      • Example - all mobile phone post paid services

  • +4

    sounds like any normal gym. annoying but pretty standard

    • Hi!
      Quick question with your gym experience. If your payment don't go through in a direct billing, is the access immediately canceled? I am inclined to think other gyms might be more reasonable and only quick you out when they cancel your contract

      • ive never had this happen, but yes, i assume they'd give you a bit of leeway. Only for 1 or 2 visits though.

  • I think the OP has missed the part where they have signed up as a contracted period.

    If it's a 12/24 month contract, that OP is paying fortnightly, the business will continue to charge their fortnightly costs to OP until the contracted period is complete.

    How would you feel if they charge you for your monthly phone plan, but you couldn't use it?

    If it's a 24 month plan, you'll keep getting charged whether you're able to use it or not. Do you think that the telecommunications company will give you 24 months of connection if you stopped paying the monthly bill? No, they'll disconnect the service, and charge you. The difference here is that you'd likely get a new phone with the contract, whereas you're not getting any 'cost' related items with the gym membership.

    So, they likely used a system that worked (mobile phone contracts), and the gym is reaping the benefits.

    Is it illegal? No.

    Should it be changed? Sure, if enough people take their business elsewhere to contracts that are PAYG, things might change. If people accept the contracts, why would the business remove a system that's guaranteeing a set income?

    • Hi!

      I just made an edit in the post. In Unimelb sports, for fortnight payments you need to stay for ~4 months, after which you can leave at any time. So it is not a locked contract.

      Unimelb sports is not even post paid, you always pay in advance! But the funny thing is that if your payment doesn't go through, you don't get access to service, but you are liable for it.

      Imagine you have a mobile provider without a contract who will send you an invoice on the 1st of October. You are liable to pay, but tell you can't use until you pay a fine. For sure people will be very upset.

      I don't see the difference with unimelb sports

      • I don't see the difference with unimelb sports

        Would you like to research the profits that optus/telstra made last financial year, vs the profits of your gym?

        Yeah… That's why it's different.

        • I am still to hear a good example (even one) of a business who:

          1) Charge for a service in advance
          2) Makes you liable of the service if your payment doesn't go through
          3) Don't let you use the service even though you area liable to pay it.

        • @manabeins:

          Because you're looking at big business. Your local gym is not a big business.

          Put yourself in the owner's shoes for a second. How would you feel if people didn't pay, yet they continue to use your service? Use the showers, keep paying members from using the equipment?

          If word got out that you allowed them to use it for free after payment bounced, next minute half your gym are free loaders.

          Wouldn't be good for a small business would it?

        • @Spackbace:
          To be fair, unimelb is not a "small business" either.

          However I am not supporting free loaders, people should pay their fees and they are liable for them. That's why Sports unimelb, and possible all gyms, charge in Advance!.

          But to make them liable to pay AND not letting them use it doesn't make sense. Either they keep them out as you suggest. Or let them use the facilities but with the understanding they will be liable and can only do so for a fortnight.

          I am very curious with this topic, and would love to know if other gyms will also cancel your access. I am inclined to bet they will still let you use the facilities until a final cancelation ocurrs

        • -2

          @manabeins:

          Honestly, this is just going in circles. We've given you plenty of examples of why the company would have it in place, yet you just can't accept it or refuse to. We don't need to relate this to other companies, it just doesn't matter.

          If you don't pay for a service, you don't get the service, it's as simple as that.

          I'm done, feel free to stay on the roller-coaster and ignore the answers to your question. Sadly it appears your uni doesn't teach you to view problems objectively and from different viewpoints. Maybe with more life experience you'll learn. For now, you're just acting ignorant of any other viewpoint simply on the basis that it doesn't meet your criteria of an example.

          /done

        • @Spackbace:
          Hi Spackbace!

          I am sorry you feel annoyed :( I am honestly trying to disregard your opinion, and actually it has been really helpful. Also I completely agree with your statement: If you don't pay for a service, you don't get the service.

          But in this example you are being charged/given an invoice (sooner or later you will have to pay), and you are not getting the service anyways. Late payment deserve a fine, but precluding access is punitive and unfair without at least a notice. As someone mentioned below, a landlord cannot lock you out and continue to charge rent.

          I understand is in the contract, but that's why I opened this discussion to see if it is worth complaining to gym/union/authorities about such behavior.

  • +1

    It's pretty obvious if you take 2 seconds to think about it. Your argument is that you are charged and can't not use the gym because payment is overdue. While overdue and you are not allowed to use gym, membership should simply pause you say.

    First of all, if you want to use gym, just pay overdue fees right there and then. That way you will never be blocked from using gym.

    But if we want to analyse this rule, then what you are saying would basically circumvent their pausing conditions. Most gyms have very strict pausing rules. They don't want you to just pause for every day/week you don't use the gym. By implementing your rule, I could simply stop paying whenever and then X weeks later I'll pay the $15 overdue fee and continue using gym. Completely bypassing any pausing rules they might have.

    • Well I definitely agree that the pausing rules are created for the benefit of the gym members, so no discussion there.

      But Unimelb charges IN ADVANCE their service. While overdue you are not allowed to use it, that's fair, but to continue charging you like you could, that's strange.

      • But if they didn't continue charging you, then you are circumventing their pausing rules as I just explained? Or am I missing something?

        They don't have a "pay $15 to pause membership for any duration with no notice required" condition. That would be unusually generous and probably something you would be hard pressed to find at other gyms.

        • I am happy to continue paying the fees, and indeed whoever that uses the gym is liable to pay for the service it provides.

          However Unimelb charges you (gives you an invoice) but don't let you use the facilities until the fine is paid. I can't think of business in which they will charge you for a service they don't provide.

          Think about it: It charges in advance for an ongoing service, makes you liable if payment doesn't go through, AND refuse to provide the aforementioned service.

          I can't think of other business which would do this..

        • @manabeins:
          You signed up for a contract of sorts. You probably already have to give notice to stop payments. Otherwise, besides examples I've already given you, you could just pay $15 and leave gym with no notice or any applicable exit fee. What you are saying is basically how any gym/phone/etc contract works. Only difference is that there's usually a grace period to smooth out late payments etc.

        • @fruxo:

          You might be surprised to learn you can not just pay 15$ and leave the gym. They will still enforce you to pay fine AND membership even though you couldn't access. That's why I am complaining.

        • @manabeins:
          I feel like you are not reading
          or understanding what I'm writing at all (maybe this is part of the problem?). No I'm not surprised because that's exactly what I told you. Yes, that makes perfect sense for the reasons I've already outlined to you.

        • @fruxo:
          I read the whole tread again to make sure I didn't miss your point.

          1)

          First of all, if you want to use gym, just pay overdue fees right there and then. That way you will never be blocked from using gym.

          I agree with this

          2)

          Most gyms have very strict pausing rules. They don't want you to just pause for every day/week you don't use the gym.

          I also agree with this. I am not complaining about pausing memberships anymore. If that's how gyms work, then so be it.

          3)

          But if they didn't continue charging you, then you are circumventing their pausing rules as I just explained? Or am I missing something?

          They do continue charging, and I am ok with it. I am just not ok with them charging and blocking access. (I am not asking for them to pause the membership.

          4)

          What you are saying is basically how any gym/phone/etc contract works. Only difference is that there's usually a grace period to smooth out late payments etc.

          I disagree with this point. The grace period makes a big difference and it is exactly why I am complaining. All business offer a grace period (for which they charge anyways), I am yet to find a business which charges but don't offer a grace period.

          For example, phone companies will continue giving you service for 1 or 2 months before stop providing their service. They would never charge you AND not giving you service. Would be outrageous.

          5)
          Finally, Unimelb sports will keep charging members fines and membership for around 3 months. This is trying to profit from fines

        • @manabeins:
          If you don't pay for a fortnight, but then pay for the next one, you are still behind on payments. I'm not saying that their conditions are great, but it's a gym. They never have good conditions. I'd say you can easily find other gyms with similar (and worse) conditions if you have a look. And I feel like you are missing the point still. You have signed up for a rolling contract/subscription, and you have made a commitment to pay for the next time period as well. And again, you are still behind even when paying that one.

          Example: you pay in advance for each month on the first of that month. You fail to pay for January, so your access is restricted for that month. In February, you get charged again, but are still not able to access gym. However, you have only paid up until end of January by now. So why should you be allowed to use the gym in February? You haven't caught up with payments yet. Again, you are on a subscription with conditions, think of it as a phone contract. You are not on the equivalent to pre-paid phone where you pay a month at a time with no obligation or commitment to pay for the next month. I think this is where you are looking at it differently. You think you are on the equivalent of a pre-paid phone.

          Also, I'm pretty sure you could choose to cancel the contract by paying the fee + cost for however many weeks notice they require. You could probably tell them without immediately paying as well, and they'll stop charging you. It's not like they are forcing you to stay on the contract for 3 months extra. But you can't terminate without notice if a notice is required.

        • @fruxo: This was quite clear and now I get better your point. You say I have to pay because of the commitment to pay, and not because of the service. That is a good point!
          I really appreciate this point of view. I understand your idea of a "subscription" and the need to "cancel" to get out of it. The only thing that comes to my mind is that any "subscription" should have a benefit. If I have a magazine subscription I would get a magazine each month. If I have a subscription to a software/website, I should be able to use it right?
          To have a subscription which precludes me from accessing the service it provides sounds weird. Even in a phone contract (your example), you will still have calls/texts/data.

          What are your thoughts? Thanks again for the feedback

  • +4

    Manabeins, I'm with you on this one, even though the majority are not. There are certain conditions that allow a party to a contract to terminate - namely, if you breached a crucial clause, or if you continually breached non-crucial clauses. If they elect to terminate in those circumstances, then you would have to pay them for their losses, which means you will pay for all the months of gym membership that they would have profited from, even though you were not allowed to use the service (since they terminated!)

    But this is not the case here. They are charging you for a service which they are precluding you from accessing. It seems to me to be punitive, and also unfair. The principal obligation of parties to contracts is to, at all times, be ready, willing and able to perform their part of the bargain. If you are delayed in the payment of rent, the landlord cannot lock you out and continue to charge you. They send default notices, and ultimately can terminate. They can't just have their cake and eat it too.

  • +2

    Unfair contract terms are a thing, especially in standard form contracts where you do not have the opportunity to negotiate the terms

    https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/contracts-agreements/unfai...

    • +3

      There's a lot of (removed personal attack) here who keep referring to the contract like it's the law and the link you provided just goes to show they're completely wrong.

      Like for example, what if they charged OP $1000 payment fee. They can't put random illegal shit that's clearly against the law.

      Blocking someone from using their services for a failed payment, then continuing to charge you for services you cannot access falls directly under the checkbox:

      Does the term cause a significant imbalance between your rights and obligations and those of the business?

      To be honest, $15 is a rip off and there shouldn't be any manual intervention required in their automated billing system to handle this sort of common occurrence. It's similar to ATM/bank fees.

      If OP thinks they have a good case, they're welcome to challenge them in court but it's going to cost them a lot more money and in the end, they'll probably just waive the fine and return the week's payment then ban OP from coming back.

      In the end, Melb uni membership is scummy.

      • It is not only about the 15$ fine, but about the fact their business model predates on students who due to careless/hardship miss payments.

        I don't believe profiting from fines, which in my opinion is happening. Is a standard business practice. As I mentioned in another comment, the gym will go for as long as 3 months without canceling the membership subscription, accumulating fines and fees. But the member is never allowed to use the facilities. This is profiting from fines

        • +2

          It is not only about the 15$ fine, but about the fact their business model predates on students who due to careless/hardship miss payments

          If the gym is too generous and let's you off with the overdue payments and allows access, then aren't you a predator towards small business'?

    • -2

      Thank you so much! This is what I was looking for!
      I'll have a chat with some friends in consumer law and see if I can draft a complain.
      Let's see how it goes :)

      • +2

        I went to unimelb as well and am deeply ashamed when I read threads like this. OP you sound so incredibly naive - this is a very standard contract. Do yourself a favour and sign up for Economics 101 - you can do it as a breadth subject. Then your !diotic notions of how the world should work and what you're entitled to as a consumer, will mostly be cleared up.

  • Why don't you take your umbrage up with your feet and go elsewhere, you seemed to have glossed right over that when maps where posted(I live in this area and can easily name 4 gyms and 3 pools!). If there is a shitty deal or contract then don't enter it or entertain it. Vote with your wallet and find a more suitable Gym you will continue to not use and report back to us if it's better or not? You seem to want to argue with all posters yet I guarantee you haven't got the guts to do so with the gym for which you are unable to read a contract of. I won't reply or entertain you any further but if you have any revelations, feel free to post. BTW I use that gym and will keep an eye out for you now.

    • -2

      Looking forward to see you! :)
      I will draft a formal complain to the gym, actually all the discussion her has been clearly helpful.
      And just to be clear, I understand the contract conditions are clear. I just honestly believe they are unfair and a complain should be raised. I might not change anything with my complain, but we'll see :)

  • +2

    Let's stop feeding the troll. He is clearly unwilling to listen to reason.

    • -2

      Sorry you feel this way. I am honestly asking a question.

  • -3

    Legal advice? I’d suggest you consult a lawyer. Just out of curiosity, are you of an ethnic descent? The reason being is that all your recent post seems to suggest that you’re relatively frugal.

    • +2

      Please enlighten us on how his potential ethnicity bears any relevance to the thread.

  • If you want to get fit how about just walking like that fat bloke that used to be on the Subway adverts did until he got caught doing something with his foot long that he shouldn't?

  • I have a few ideas from working in a similar setting.

    The rejection fee: The banks charge the sports centres a fee to try deduct the direct debit payments. If the payment is unsuccessful then the centre is charged so to mitigate that cost the. There is a rejection fee.
    From my experience, the amount changes from place to place. $5-$10. I find $15 a tad excessive to recoup costs.

    Waiving the fees, good luck with that unfortunately. Businesses hate handing back money, unfortunately if it rejects it's either your fault or the banks but the bank will blame anyone but themselves.

    Once your debit has rejected then you haven't paid for the 2 weeks future access. There is no easy way to discern whether you are within your minimum term or out of it. Also most gyms have a stringent suspension allowence so therefore ypuz could miss a payment because you know you will not attend and then when ready, attend and pay for the time you will resume.

    On another note: some centres are being a little flexible for example, having a second direct debit day for those that rejected first time. This takes manpower and more resources so it is rare.

    Suspensions can be reliant on the type point of sale system used but I have not experienced such odd suspension criteria.

    Finally, being charged for periods where the centre is closed entirely is poor standards. The direct debit should be altered to match.

    I hope that makes a little sense.

    • Many gyms close for Christmas, Easter, New Year’s Day etc and don’t adjust the fee for those periods. Also many gyms aren’t open 24 hours a day. As long as the T&Cs are clear this shouldn’t be an issue. Suspension due to non payment stops people deliberately gaming the system. I’m sure if people paid their fees, including the rejection fee, they would be soon up and running again.

      • hi!
        Gyms might close for maybe 1 or 2 days. But melbourne university sports closes for a solid 2 week period.
        You know what is even stranger? Remember I mentioned you can pause in advance? Well they let you pause your membership during those 2 weeks. It still beyond my understanding why:
        1) Charge for 2 weeks of no service
        2) Allow you to pause if you let them know, but not pausing you otherwise ???

    • Thank you for the detailed feedback!!

      From my experience, the amount changes from place to place. $5-$10. I find $15 a tad excessive to recoup costs.

      That's why I believe they are making a profit of late fees. This is a very poor practice.

      There is no easy way to discern whether you are within your minimum term or out of it. Also most gyms have a stringent suspension allowence so therefore ypuz could miss a payment because you know you will not attend and then when ready, attend and pay for the time you will resume.

      This is a good point. However I am ok with them charging the membership and the fine. It is the fact that they send you an invoice, but still don't give me access what baffles me.

      On another note: some centres are being a little flexible for example, having a second direct debit day for those that rejected first time. This takes manpower and more resources so it is rare.

      I am ok on getting the fine. Is the lack of access which is annoying. Also that they will keep charging membership and fines for up to 3 months

      Finally, being charged for periods where the centre is closed entirely is poor standards. The direct debit should be altered to match.

      fully agree with you on this!

  • Probably lucky for the sports facility that Melbourne uni don't teach law or one or more of the law students may have tried to get them to change things or questioned them on this
    https://law.unimelb.edu.au/news/MLS/melbourne-law-school-in-...

    • I am pretty sure those layers have more important things to do :)

      But the fact that a layer has not complain, doesn't make my complain invalid

  • I'd say this leans towards unfair terms which could make it illegal or at least contestable.

  • +1

    That’s normal

    • -1

      To charge for a service not given? If you have another business which does it please let me know!!! I have been looking and can't find one

      • +1
        • child care centres
        • gyms
        • sporting clubs
  • +2

    I went to unimelb as well and am deeply ashamed when I read threads like this. OP you sound so incredibly naive - this is a very standard contract. Do yourself a favour and sign up for Economics 101 - you can do it as a breadth subject. Then your !diotic notions of how the world should work and what you're entitled to as a consumer, will mostly be cleared up.

    • -2

      Hi Dylan,

      I am sorry you feel this way. As discussed in this long tread, there is nothing standard in this contract. Up to this point, not a single comment has described a business who follows the same practice as Sports Unimelb. Just in case you don't want to read the whole thing:

      1) Charges/gives you an invoice in advance for a service
      2) Gives you a fine if payment doesn't go through
      3) Refuses to give you access to the service but still you are liable to pay

      In fact a few users have sided with me on this. Additional thing which are legal, but questionable, are:
      A) HIgh fines (15$) which focus in getting a profit of fines
      B) Charging for periods of 2 weeks when is actually close. The funny thing is that you are allowed to pause membership, but they will charge you if you don't
      C) Keeps charging you fines and membership for months! But you never are able to access

      The fact that a contract stipulates conditions which are unfair doesn't mean you can't try to complain and understand if things can get better

      • 1) all/most business require prepayment for services
        2) this has been the norm for the last 20 years of banking, its starting to get better and may disappear over time. Bank (or payment gateway service) charges the business, the business chargers the customer to cover their costs. Yes the fee is inflated but they are not making money on this their administrative costs to chase you for the money exceed $15
        3) again all/most business withhold services if you are not making the required payments. You are still under the contract period so you will still get charged.

        Welcome to the adult world - your going to be in for a shock by the sounds of things

        • Hi!
          Thank you for your feedback :)

          1) all/most business require prepayment for services
          I agree on this!
          2) Gives you a fine if payment doesn't go through
          I agree on this as well!
          3) again all/most business withhold services if you are not making the required payments.
          Please give me an example of a business who charges a membership fee but doesn't not let you use it. So far after almost 200 comments not a single person has come with a good example.

        • @manabeins:

          I’ve already provide multiple, essentially anything that is a pay as you go service and you signed a contract.

          ***Telstra/Optus/Vodafone - they will stop you being able to make calls/sms when you fall behind in payments, you service is blocked and if your under contract the monthly fees still apply - they also charge a $10-$15 late fee.

          ***Foxtel same

          ***Daycare/child care services - if you are in arrears you will be denied service and still charged for your nominated days until you cancel the service typically 4 weeks notice. You will be charged for the 4 weeks of receiving ‘no service’ to you point.

          ***Gyms/Sport clubs

          ***Internet Plans - similar to mobile phone, your internet will be cut off whilst in arrears and still continue to be charged your monthly access fee. Default fees for direct debit still apply

          ***Novated Lease - you will need to pay out the contract term

        • @Geryatric:
          Hi again!

          https://www.ozbargain.com.au/comment/6347844/

          I have explained in your other comment why theses examples don't apply at all.

          ***Telstra/Optus/Vodafone / Foxtel /Daycare /Internet
          All of these are fixed term contracts as explained in my other post. In all of these you have to keep paying until the fixed term period finish. Furthermore there is a cancelation fee.

          Sports unimelb charges in advance and you can leave at any time, you can check my other comment.

  • -2

    Melbourne university is synonymous with brain damaged moron. Move to another state of Australia before it is catching.

    • Sorry you feel this way! I have try to explain the ideas as clear as possible, but if you find another business which follow these practices let me know!

      • Fitness first, plus fitness, virgin fitness,

        • Fitness first pre-paid plan allows you to access the facilities, if you don't pay you just don't get in, but they don't continue sending invoices you. It doesn't follow unimelb sports practices which makes you liable if you are late and forbids you to access. Plus fitness is the same thing, they have a foundation membership which you can access even if payment is late.
          I can bet virgin fitness is the same thing but you are welcome to prove me wrong
          - https://www.fitnessfirst.com.au/learn-about-membership/pre-p...
          - https://express.ffapaysmart.com.au/DDR/JoinOnline.aspx?AID=B...

        • +1

          @manabeins:
          There’s no point participating in this conversation if you are simply ignoring the factual information people are providing you.

          Pre-paid is different to a contract membership, do I really need to explain how a pre-paid service works? Well you pre-pay all your money up front which entitles you to a set number of visits.

          As a fitness first member I can confirm the following;
          - if you default on a payment there is a fee
          - if you are not current with payments you will denied access to the facilities
          - whilst you are in arrears your contracted fees still apply.

        • -1

          @Geryatric:
          Hi again!

          I am so sorry I am not clear but I am really trying my best. If I miss your point please let me help understand.

          Pre-paid is different to a contract membership, do I really need to explain how a pre-paid service works?
          I think you are confused with what options Fitness First offers, and what University of Melbourne sports offers. Fitness First offers a fix term membership (3/12/18 months) and each of those have a specific fortnight fee. Once you choose a fixed term plan, you pay by direct debit every fortnight failure of doing so means you will pay a fine, and you are still liable for reminder fees or canceling fees since you have a fixed term contract.

          Well you pre-pay all your money up front which entitles you to a set number of visits.

          Now lets talk about unimelb sports, they offer a plan they call direct debit advance payment, in which you pay for gym usage in advance every fortnight for specific number of visits (15 days). You can cancel at any time (no cancelation fees). They call it an ongoing contract. It is a pretty unique system, however it is similar to Fitness First pre paid (upfront) plan as:
          1) You have a specific period of time for going.
          2) You are liable to pay regardless of you going or not.

          So tell me what do you think? I hope I make more sense.

          if you default on a payment there is a fee
          I am ok with them charging a fine! And for the record I checked the contract for Fitness First and it's only 7.50$. Unimelb 15$ is a bit excessive but it's they problem. However they key point is they make you liable for the membership, but still don't give you access.

          if you are not current with payments you will denied access to the facilities
          Indeed I confirmed that Fitness First block access if fortnight payments are late for fix term contracts.

          However is not the case for pre-paid as obviously you already paid. I guess this is the main difference with Fitness First and Sports unimelb: Fitness First gym makes sure to charge advance, but Sports unimelb choose to give access first and charge later. Why do they do that? Because they can profit from late fees… (that last sentence is my opinion)

          whilst you are in arrears your contracted fees still apply.
          just to explain again: This is not the case of unimelb as it is not a fixed term contract.

  • TPG sends me an sms when my direct debit failed. I quickly transfer more fund the account. There was no fine. This is the way it should be. I wouldn't sign a contract like this facility if there's a $15 fine even if the bank was down at the time. Not fair for consumers

    • Thank you for your support! TPG conditions seems quite reasonable

  • +1

    Hi OP,

    This post here (which you've already seen) answers your questions:
    https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/401424#comment-6340494

    From the perspective of a business owner, I'll add some insight into why we have these contracts.
    If you sign a contract to make regular payments for the next 12 months, we take that future revenue into account when making purchasing decisions.
    If enough of our customers break the contract after we've made significant purchases, taken out loans, signed our own contracts with vendors, this hurts our business.
    I'm not really a fan of late payment fees, etc but we need to discourage our customers from paying late or not paying us.

    Just try to keep enough money in your bank account and hopefully you won't have any more issues like this. Later on once you're working, these sort of issues really don't come up anymore.

    • Thank you for your reply!
      As mentioned later in the post you mention, Unimelb Sports Centre does not have a fix term contract at all. After 8 weeks, you can leave at any time without fines if you inform them in advance. It is pretty similar to mobile plans which renew monthly.

      I'm not really a fan of late payment fees, etc but we need to discourage our customers from paying late or not paying us.

      I really agree with you! I am not complaining about the fine. However they withhold access to facilities while they keep charging for membership. Furthermore they will keep you in the system for months accumulating fines and membership fees even though at no moment you can access the facilities.

      I am pretty sure your business doesn't work with this conditions. I would expect at the very least a short notice. What do you think?

  • These kind of fines apply to direct debits, because its awkward/time concerning for the company.

    This is not/rarely the case for credit card

    • +1

      I will definitely use my credit card next time :)

      However the issue is not the fine, is the fact they don't allow you to use the facilities but keep charging the membership fee :(

  • +2

    Troll or living in a bubble

    • -2

      hi!

      Sorry you feel this way! I hope you had a chance to read the comments :) I really try to make a strong case

      • You've definitely tried, yes. But you are ultimately beating a dead horse. You got your answer - https://www.ozbargain.com.au/comment/6340494/redir - and yet you refuse to accept it.

        Let it go, and find a more interesting hobby than arguing on the internet.

        If you really think there is an issue, don't talk here about it. Talk to Fair Trading, or the ACCC, or to a lawyer.

        • -1

          HI!

          I remember your advice, which is basically "Follow whatever the contract you signed for says". However I am not fully sure it is legal to charge in advance (send an invoice) and refuse the service, I will have to talk with layer friends about this.

          And totally agree I have to follow the contract meanwhile. But I will try that these conditions changes in the future :)

          Thank you again!!

        • @manabeins:

          So you think it's fair if they send you an invoice (say for 4 weeks, so 2 invoices), in that 4 weeks you don't pay it, but you expect to be able to access the gym… Just because they sent a paper? The invoice itself isn't money, it doesnt pay the bills, the money you owe does.

          A scum bag could just keep using the gym, while collecting invoices and not pay them, then leave for overseas.

  • Reached my negative comment quota for the day.
    OP, keep up the good work and keep the comments coming and I will be back in 24 hours to continue mine.

  • what is to stop you ceasing membership before Christmas then starting up again after christmas?

  • hot tip: universities are corporations there to make a profit! they couldnt care less about you and your education.

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