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QLD Australian Consumer Law and Debt Collectors - Cancellation of Union Membership

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by ImNotADoctor, 16 November 2015.

  1. ImNotADoctor

    ImNotADoctor Member

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    Hi all, not after legal advice per se, more so an unbiased opinion of the situation I'm in. I'm going to try and keep it brief.

    I was a Union member for 4 years. In December 2014, I left the industry to pursue other interests. On the first quarter of 2015, I received a demand notice for approx. $700. I had forgotten about my membership as it was handled by my employer and deducted from my pay. The $700 I assume covers the first half of 2015, 6 months worth of membership.

    I immediately sent an email to explain the situation. They accepted and stated I would just have to cover up until the end of Dec 2014 as there were some missed payments, questionable, but I agreed and asked for an updated payment notice. A few days later, I received a debt collection notice for the full amount. The debt collectors stated that for my resignation to be accepted I would have to pay the full amount of $700. I explained the agreement that occurred between myself and the Union representative, debt collectors stated, "The client can do whatever they please".

    I obviously would agree to the $700 if there had been an exchange of services, yet I had completely left the industry by the end of 2014. I feel this amount is quite extortionate. I had a read through the Australian Consumer Law in regards to unfair terms and feel as though this could fall under that. My last exchange with the debt collection agency was to prove my non-employment in the industry to be eligible for the lesser amount. I am yet to hear back.

    The gist of the resignation terms state; My resignation takes effect the day I become ineligible for membership (DEC 2014), yet termination of my membership does not preclude me from paying the 6 months worth of membership fees for the first half of 2015.

    I feel this would be akin to a mechanic demanding 6 months worth of vehicle servicing fees even though the car was never serviced and has since been sold.

    Am I clearly in the wrong or do I have a leg to stand on?
     
  2. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    For a start I would determine who owns the debt. Is the debt collection agency merely acting on behalf of the union? Or have they purchased the debt from the union. If it is the latter case, then you can forget about dealing with the union itself, they have no say anymore. If the debt collection agency is acting on behalf of the union, they will simply try to hunt down payment as aggressively as possible. They are not really interested in negotiating.

    As to whether you are liable for the full years' membership payment, this depends on what your agreement terms were with the union. What did your contract or agreement say about terminating your membership? What were the notice requirements for termination? If you don't have a copy of this, its something you can request from the union, or possibly obtain online.
     

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