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WA Australian Institute of Fitness - Cancellation Fee under Course Enrolment Contract?

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by Timdscott, 18 March 2015.

  1. Timdscott

    Timdscott Member

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    I enrolled in a Master Trainer and Fitness Business course with the Australian Institute of Fitness on the 2nd of December 2015. I paid a deposit of $750 on the same date. The total cost of the course is $10 280 and it is due to start in June 2015. In February of this year I became aware of a course that gives the same qualifications for approximately $2000 total. I emailed the Australian Institute of Fitness on the 18th of February 2015 requesting to cancel the agreement due to financial difficulties and also requested my $750 deposit back. I received a reply email stating that the terms of the contract would require me to still pay for 50% of the total course cost ($5140). The cooling off period is up to 10 days after signing of the contact during which time the contract can be cancelled for a full refund. This is all stated in the contract that I signed but it seems unfair that I would have to pay for half of the course even though I've given 4 months notice of my cancellation. I was under the impression that this was what a deposit was for. Under contract law, are they able to force me to pay the $5140?
     
  2. @thelawbundle

    @thelawbundle Well-Known Member

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    Hi Tim,

    Firstly, the conduct of the Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF) here is quite appalling, and unfortunately this is not the first time that I've heard this complaint.

    The AIF seems to have failed to acknowledge its obligations under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) which, amongst other things, protects consumers from unfair contract terms, regardless of what a contract might say. Check out this resource: http://www.consumerlaw.gov.au/content/the_acl/downloads/unfair_contract_terms_guide.PDF

    As well as possible infringements of the ACL, there are a number of other issues at play here including the issue of whether or not the AIF has imposed a 'contractual penalty' (which is not allowed).

    You will note from that resource mentioned above that there a number of agencies who should be able to assist you in this circumstance, including the ACCC. It would be advisable for you to be proactive and contact agencies such as this, now. Hopefully, they will investigate and resolve this issue on your behalf.

    Otherwise, the AIF may refer this matter to a debt collector as and when the contractual payment becomes overdue.

    You will still have options if that happens, including being able to plead aspects of the consumer law as a defence.

    If you need help at that stage drafting a defence, or generally, be sure to check out the community legal centres in your area.

    Kind regards
     
  3. Timdscott

    Timdscott Member

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    Thanks very much Rhys I really appreciate your reply and all the info. I've already emailed the ACCC I'm just waiting to hear back from them. I'll have a good look through the resource you have given me and also look further into contractual penalties. Fortunately I've got a bit of time up my sleeve before payment is due. Thanks again for taking the time to reply.
    Kind regards
     
  4. Timdscott

    Timdscott Member

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    Just an update, I emailed the AIF yesterday concerning the possible infringements you mentioned and they got back to me within a couple of hours agreeing to cancel the contract with no further charges and even refunding my $750 deposit. I really can't thank you enough for your help Rhys I just wonder how many people have actually been forced to pay thousands of dollars for a course they no longer want to do... Thanks again.
    Kind regards,
    Tim Scott
     
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  5. @thelawbundle

    @thelawbundle Well-Known Member

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    No worries Tim, you're more than welcome.

    It's shocking to think that they've scared other people into paying that money. I'll certainly be spreading the word.

    Cheers.
     
  6. HayleyDePledge

    HayleyDePledge Active Member

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    Hi Tim, is it possible you could tell me the possible infringements that you emailed to the AIF and anything else you sent to them that you think encouraged them to cancel your course and give you a full refund. I signed up for the master trainer as well, it cost me $500 deposit and currently $138 every two weeks. I have rung up, requesting to cancel less then 10 days after the course started, and they are refusing, saying I am liable to pay the full $4000. Please help me, it would be much appreciated.
    [Moderator redacted - Community Guidelines]
    Thanks.
     
  7. Timdscott

    Timdscott Member

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    Hi Hayley,
    Just to clarify, it was actually a friend of mine who found themselves in this situation and I wrote into this law forum asking for help on her behalf as you will see in the below email.

    Your situation is a bit different to hers as she gave several months notice before the course started of her wish to withdraw. The email I sent is as follows, addressed to the person she had notified of her wish to withdraw and who consequently said she would have to pay 50% of the course fees:

    I am writing on behalf of ***, a family friend of many years. She has brought to my attention the situation regarding the course she has enrolled in with The Australian Institute of Fitness on 02/12/2014 and subsequently due to a change in her financial position, wishes to cancel. After receiving legal advice we have been told that the AIF seems to have failed to acknowledge its obligations under Australian Consumer Law which, amongst other things, protects consumers from unfair contract terms, regardless of what a contract might say. Further, we have also been advised there are a number of other issues at play here, not least of which is that the AIF appears to have imposed a 'contractual penalty' which is legally not allowed.



    Due to the amount of notice given before the course is due to start I don't believe it is unreasonable to ask for the contract to be terminated with no further costs to ***. I certainly do think it is unreasonable to expect *** to pay several thousand dollars for a course she won't be attending.



    I sincerely hope we will not have to take this matter further legally but due to the advice we have already received, and the large amount of money involved, we are quite willing to to do so. I am therefore appealing to your good nature and asking for a refund of her deposit paid on 02/12/2014 and agreement to cancel and not pursue, any further payments from ***. I would also ask for the matter to be resolved as swiftly as possible, as the situation is putting *** and her young family under a significant amount of stress during an already difficult time.



    Thanking you in advance and kind regards,

    *** (on behalf of ***)


    As I said before though, the situations are different so the same laws and therefore infringements may not apply. Hopefully someone else on here may be able to give you further guidance on what your options are before you act any further.

    Good luck and kind regards
     
  8. HayleyDePledge

    HayleyDePledge Active Member

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    Hi Tim, thanks for your response, I sent them through a similar message, hopefully I will get a similar reply..
    I signed up less then a month ago, and requested to cancel less then one week into the course.
    These people are so terrible
    Thank's again
     
  9. HayleyDePledge

    HayleyDePledge Active Member

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    Hi Rhys, can you help me out at all, my situation is similar to Tim's however, I am a 20 year old uni student with a seasonal job.I stupidly signed up thinking I would have enough money, less then one months ago, and then requested to cancel less then one week into the course. Is there any way i can get out of this yearly contract. I can't afford to pay 6 grand for a course I never even started.
     
  10. HayleyDePledge

    HayleyDePledge Active Member

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    Thank's for your help :)
     

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