Harlands Chasing Debt Arrears for My stopped Gym Membership

Can you write off any Harlands debt?

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This isn’t a full fact find, Thrifty Family doesn’t give advice. We work with The Debt Advice Service who provides information about your options. 

For free & impartial money advice you can visit MoneyHelper. We work with The Debt Advice Service who provide information about your options. This isn’t a full fact-find, some debt solutions may not be suitable in all circumstances, ongoing fees might apply & your credit rating may be affected.

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Janine Marsh
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Janine Marsh

Financial Expert

My name’s Janine, and I’m a mum of two who’s always been passionate about trying to cut down spending costs. I am now sharing as much financial knowledge as I possibly can to help your money go that little bit further.

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- Financial Expert
Updated 25 August 2023

For free & impartial money advice you can visit MoneyHelper. We work with The Debt Advice Service who provide information about your options. This isn’t a full fact-find, some debt solutions may not be suitable in all circumstances, ongoing fees might apply & your credit rating may be affected.

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Harlands Chasing Gym Membership

Did you cancel a gym membership only to receive a letter saying you owe money on it? Sadly, it seems to happen a little too often. You’re not the only one to ask, ‘why are Harlands chasing debt arrears for my cancelled gym membership’?

I will cover why Harlands could contact you and who they are. Then, I’ll explain how to deal with a debt letter whether the debt is yours or not!

To find out more, check out the paragraphs below.

Do you have to pay Harlands?

You might not have to pay Harlands.

If you genuinely can’t afford your debt repayments then looking into whether you could have your written off might be just what you need. 

If you want to find out whether you qualify for having debt written off or payments lowered then fill out the short form below.

Can you write off any Harlands debt?

1 of 5

How much debt do you have?

This isn’t a full fact find, Thrifty Family doesn’t give advice. We work with The Debt Advice Service who provides information about your options. 

Is Harlands a debt collection agency?

Yes. Harlands is a debt recovery company. Their core business centres around chasing people for overdue fees. That said, the company also deals with the administration of contracts for its clients.

It’s also worth noting that the Harland Group has other clients in the energy and other sectors too.

So, when you cancel things with your gym and you stop direct debits from going out of your bank account, you could get a call from Harlands!

They could claim that by stopping the direct debit, you broke the gym contract!

Are Harlands debt collectors regulated?     

Yes. Harlands is authorised to collect debts in the UK. The business is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which oversees all UK financial services.

Like all debt collection companies, Harlands must abide by the law when they contact anyone about an alleged debt. If they fail to follow the law, you can report the Harlands debt collectors to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Can you lower your repayments?

If you’re struggling to pay back your debt, then you might qualify for a debt solution.

Some solutions lower your monthly payments while others write off a portion of your debt

To find out whether they could work in your situation, hit the button below.

Get Started

Is Harlands a legitimate company?

Yes. The Harland Group is a legitimate company. However, there are plenty of ‘scammers’ who could pretend to be one of their agents!

So, when someone calls you and says they’re from Harlands, you should check the number they’re calling from. Then compare it to the company’s online contact details.

Is Harlands Service Ltd the same company as Harlands?

Yes. Harlands debt collectors trade under several names which includes the following:

  • Harlands Service Ltd
  • Harlands Group
  • Harlands Debt Collectors

Who uses Harlands Services Ltd services?

Harlands works with gyms and health & fitness businesses that use their services to collect unpaid fees and debts. If you stop paying your fees or you cancel a direct debit, chances are your details are passed to Harlands Services Limited.

That said, the Harlands Group also chases debts for the following companies and authorities:

  • HMRC
  • Mobile network operators like EE
  • Catalogue credit providers
  • Energy providers
  • Virgin Media
  • Local authorities
  • Private car park management companies
  • A credit card company
  • Courts

Does Harlands buy debts from other companies?

Yes. The Harlands group does buy debts from other companies. So when they chase you for payment, they could own the debt!

In short, you won’t be able to deal with the original creditor if Harland purchased the debt from them.

Debt recovery companies make more money when they purchase debt portfolios for a fraction of what they’re worth.

That said, the debts are often old and some are even statute barred because they fall under the Limitations Act!

So, it’s always worth checking whether a gym debt is still enforceable or if it’s statute barred before admitting anything to Harlands!

Why is Harlands chasing debt arrears for cancelled gym membership?

As mentioned, someone from Harlands could contact you if you stopped paying your fees and stopped your direct debit to them.

There’s a good chance your agreement with the gym or fitness centre included a clause. The clause stated that membership cancellations take effect 30 days after you cancelled things with the club.

First, you’ll get a letter or phone call from one of Harland’s representatives. They’ll chase you for a payment whether the debt is yours or not!

Second, if you don’t respond, debt collection agencies will continue sending you payment demands and could even show up at your property!

Harlands can send one of their representatives to your home if they couldn’t get hold of you in other ways.

Sadly, debt recovery companies have earned a reputation for going to great lengths to get you to pay. They could bombard you with calls, texts, emails and letters.

Some debt collection agencies use unlawful and deceitful tactics to get you to admit you owe any money! They can be extremely persistent, even when the outstanding is a relatively small amount.

Should you respond to a debt recovery agency?

Yes. You should respond to a debt recovery company when they get in touch with you. Even when you know they’re chasing the wrong person due to a clerical mistake.

Harlands will ask you to pay the amount owed in full. Or they could ask you to set up a payment plan with them to clear the total debt.

A representative from Harlands may encourage you to make the payment over the phone! However, you shouldn’t admit or fork any money over to debt collection agencies until you’re satisfied that:

  • The debt isn’t too old to enforce
  • It’s your debt!

It’s far better to communicate with Harlands rather than throw a debt letter away because you think you don’t owe any money to anyone!

What happens when you ignore a debt collection letter?

As mentioned, you’d be bombarded with payment demands. You could receive lots of unwanted calls, text messages and emails. All of which can be very distressing especially if the amount they claim is outstanding isn’t very much!

Harlands debt collector could take you to court if they own the debt. If they’re working on behalf of a client, they could advise the client to take legal action against you!

That said, there’s never any guarantee that a threat of legal action would be followed through on. It’s always a bit of a gamble as to whether the threat is empty or not.

The last letter you’d get from Harlands is a Letter Before Action (LBA). It’s a notice of intended legal action which you shouldn’t ignore whether the debt is yours or not!

What if you don’t pay Harlands?

Harlands won’t give up chasing you when you don’t pay. That said, like all debt recovery companies, their powers are pretty limited.

In short, they have the same powers as the original creditor they’re working on behalf of. For example, they can send you payment demands and threaten you with court action, but that’s about it!

A Harlands debt collector is not a court-appointed enforcement officer and they can’t pretend they are!

Should you check if the debt is statute barred?

Absolutely! You should check whether the debt is too old to enforce before doing anything else.

You should admit, sign or agree to anything until you establish whether a debt is too old to enforce through the courts!

If you find it’s 6 years old, Harlands can’t force you to settle what’s allegedly owed because courts won’t take on cases where a debt is statute barred.

When is a debt too old to enforce?

As mentioned, a debt is too old to enforce when it’s at least six years old which means it could be statute barred.

However, there are specific factors that play into whether a debt is statute-barred or not. For example, it’d only be unenforceable through the courts if the following applies:

  • You hadn’t admitted owing the money in six years
  • You never paid anything toward settling an outstanding amount in six years
  • A court hasn’t issued a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against you over it

When a debt is statute-barred, you won’t have to settle it.

Is the debt yours?

The next thing to determine before you admit, sign or fork any money over to Harlands is whether the debt is yours!

Mistakes happen whether clerical or other and a debt recovery company could be chasing the wrong person for a gym debt.

That said, if the original letter doesn’t contain solid proof that you owe money to someone, the debt can’t be enforced through the courts.

You won’t have to pay even if the debt is yours!

Should you ask Harlands to prove the debt?

Absolutely. You should ask Harlands to prove you owe the money whether the debt is yours or not.

Moreover, debt recovery companies are obliged to respond to your request. The advantage of sending a prove it letter is:

  • First, Harlands can’t escalate things
  • Second, you get a little time to sort your finances out if needed

You should send Harlands a ‘prove the debt’ letter by registered post which they must respond to in a timely manner. Also, you shouldn’t sign the letter, instead just print it where your signature should go.

Nothing can be done until a debt collection agency proves you owe money. They can’t just ‘say’ you do. Harlands must provide you with authenticated copies of any agreements or contracts you signed.

Moreover, it’s the original lender/creditor who must authenticate all the copies of a credit agreement you signed! If Harlands fails to produce adequate evidence that the debt is yours, you can’t be forced to pay.

What if Harlands can’t prove the debt?

A judge would not rule in a debt collector’s favour if they don’t have solid proof that you owe the money!

In short, without sufficient proof the debt is yours, Harlands would have trouble enforcing it through the courts without an authenticated copy of a credit agreement.

It means you can’t be ordered to pay what’s owed even if the debt is yours!

What happens when you cancel a direct debit?

Even when you cancel your membership, Harlands will likely contact you because you stopped a direct debit too!

The debt recovery company deals with stopped direct debits for their clients! You need to respond to Harlands and explain when your membership was stopped.

You need to explain that you stopped all future direct debits from being taken from your bank because of the membership cancellation.

However, if your agreement with a gym had a 30-day cancellation clause in it, chances are the DD was due just after you closed your gym account. Harlands would see it as missed membership payments.

In which case, the 30-day clause means the last payment due via Direct Debit had to go out! It’s very unfair, but there may not be anything you could do about it.

The next time you sign up for a gym or fitness club, it could be worth reading the fine print which could include a 30-day clause!

Check out what happened to one person who posted this message on a popular forum about Harlands debt collectors:

What happens when you cancel a direct debit?

Source: Moneysavingexpert

What can Harlands do?

As mentioned, Harlands are regulated by the FCA and must follow the law when they contact you. A Harlands debt collector must respect your privacy and your rights when they contact you.

As such, there are things they can say and do which are totally legal. For example, Harlands debt collectors have the right to:

  • Contact you about an alleged debt by letter, email, text or phone. They can visit you at home if you don’t respond to their letters, phone calls, emails or texts
  • Discuss the problem with you discreetly showing empathy towards your personal circumstances
  • Ask you to pay them rather than the client
  • Add interest and late fees to the debt (if specified in an original credit agreement or contract)

You can’t stop Harlands debt collectors from doing any of the above because it’s within their rights to do so. However, a representative must remain polite when they discuss missed membership payments with you.

What can’t Harlands do?

Harlands and any of their representatives would break the law if they did or said any of the following things:

  • Bombard you with phone calls, texts, emails, letters and constant visits
  • Discuss a debt with your employer, neighbours, friends or even a family member which contravenes the UK’s privacy laws that protect you
  • Call you when you are at your place of work unless you said they could
  • Make out they have the same powers as enforcement officers (bailiffs)
  • Add an excessive amount of interest every day to an original debt
  • Threaten or intimidate you in an abusive manner
  • Use documents that seem to be issued by a court
  • Use legal jargon to confuse you
  • Urge you to borrow more to pay what’s owed
  • Force their way into your property, clamp vehicles or seize possessions

You have the right to file a complaint against Harlands debt collectors when they act unlawfully.

First, you should complain to Harlands and give them a chance to put things right. Next, file a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

What happens when you ignore a court order to pay?

When you refuse to settle a Harlands debt even when they proved you owe the money, things will escalate and you could face court action.

If you continue to ignore things and you fail to pay Harlands debt collectors, a judge could rule in their favour. The court will issue you with an ‘order to pay’ which means you’re liable for the debt!

In short, there’s no getting out of paying Harlands debt collectors!

A County Court Judgement (CCJ) is registered on your credit file. You’d have trouble getting a credit card, bank loan or mortgage with a CCJ on your credit history.

Moreover, Harlands could apply to the courts for the following:

  • A Third Party Debt Order which means the money owed is taken straight out of your bank account. You may have to pay a fee on top of having the amount you owe frozen in your bank account!
  • An Attachment of Earnings which means your employer is ordered by the courts to deduct money from your earnings. The amount is paid to the courts before being sent to the creditor!
  • Enforcement action which means court-appointed bailiffs (now called enforcement officers) will visit you at home and seize possessions to pay off what’s owed. You could incur further charges!
  • A Charging Order uses your home as security against the amount owed. However, the amount you owe would need to be significant for this to happen

Can you prevent Harlands from contacting you?

No. Unfortunately, you can’t prevent Harlands from contacting you. A debt collection company is within the law to get in touch with you.

It’s their business to collect debts for their clients or because they purchased them from other companies.

However, you can stop the constant calls, texts, emails and letters by writing to Harlands. You can state how you want them to get in touch with you.

Ideally, this should be in writing by letter. It means you have proof of their demands and responses to your queries! You might need these if you’re taken to court.

Send the letter by registered post and don’t sign it. Instead, print your name at the bottom of the page. Not all debt collection companies act ethically and your signature could be used on documents you’ve never seen.

For example, they could use your signature on a payment plan you never agreed to!

Can a debt collection agent enter your home?

No. Definitely not. Debt collection agents don’t have the right to enter your property. If a representative tries to force their way into your home, call the Police straight away!

Then report them to the Financial Ombudsman!

How should you deal with Harlands?

You should check all the details in any correspondence you receive from Harlands. This includes:

  • Checking the date is not statute-barred
  • Establishing the debt is yours

Once you’re satisfied the details in a debt letter are correct, you should respond to Harlands sooner rather than later!

If you can pay the amount owed in full, do so. It’ll save you a lot of stress, time and money.

However, if you’re struggling with your finances get in touch with a debt adviser but let Harlands know. Debt collection companies must allow you enough time to seek independent advice!

How do you contact Harlands?

I’ve listed the various way you can reach out to Harlands in the table below:

Telephone: 01444 449156
Email: [email protected]
Website: https://www.harlandsgroup.co.uk/

Is there any free debt advice in the UK?

If you’re drowning in debt and you can’t afford to pay Harlands, you should contact a leading UK debt charity. They provide free debt advice which could help you decide how to deal with a debt collection company.

Their advice could be invaluable when it comes to negotiating with Harlands. 

I’ve listed several of the leading debt charities here:

“It will only get worse” 😩

It’s cliché to say, but with debt it’s true; the longer you leave it, the worse the problem gets

There are straightforward and effective ways to deal with debt, but you have to know your options. 

Fill out the short form to find out about the debt solutions that could reduce your monthly payments or even write off some of your debt.

Get Started

Lastly, why is Harlands chasing debt arrears?

Chances are Harlands got your details from one of their clients when you failed to pay a direct debit even though you stopped your membership.

Sadly, many gyms and fitness facilities have a 30-day cancellation clause in their agreements. So, if you cancel things on the first of the month and your DD goes out on the 10th, the gym will want their money!

They could claim you broke the gym contract you signed when joining up!

If you cancel the direct debit, your details get passed to Harlands and they’ll pester you for payment.

However, mistakes happen and someone could have made a clerical error which means Harlands is chasing the wrong person. If so, ask them to prove the debt is yours.

Don’t admit, sign or pay anything to Harlands until they do!

You should report Harlands debt collectors to the Financial Ombudsman Service if you feel they acted unlawfully when they contacted you.

Thanks for reading this post. I hope the information helps you deal with Harlands debt recovery so the outcome is positive and less stressful!

The authors
Avatar photo
My name’s Janine, and I’m a mum of two who’s always been passionate about trying to cut down spending costs. I am now sharing as much financial knowledge as I possibly can to help your money go that little bit further.
How to beat Harlands debt
How to beat Harlands debt

Looking into debt solutions could help. 

  • Lower monthly payments
  • Reduce pressure from the people you owe
  • Affordable monthly repayments.