Am I truly responsible for an additional monthly service charge by my club for service I did not authorize?

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Am I truly responsible for an additional monthly service charge by my club for service I did not authorize?

Monthly tennis club membership is $60 per month which has been automatically withdrawn from my account from day one. My partner handles the checking account. Last month the club was purchased by a church, who is still running the tennis facility while remodeling the club for their purposes. They have ceased automatic withdrawal and are collecting the monthly fee via check. I discovered then that they have been withdrawing $108 monthly for the last 3 years; the additional $35 fee was for a ball machine rental which I never authorized. They claim no responsibility.Do I have a claims case?

Asked on October 20, 2011 under Business Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You need to first double check what the terms of your contract or agreement with the tennis club were: did it give them, explicitly or implicitly, the authorization to charge you for the ball machine rental? If it did, you may be liable; but if it did not, and you did not otherwise charge, authorize, etc. the ball machine rental, you should not be liable for it. If you would not be liable, you may be able to bring a lawsuit for reimbursement of the charges.

Second, if you do have grounds to sue, you need to determine who to sue. The church might not be responsible--it depends on how they bought the club. If the bought the corporate or business entity which owned the club--i.e. the bought the corporation or the limited liabilty company--then they also have acquired its obligations and may therefore be responsible for the overcharge. But on the other hand, if they only bought the club's assets (e.g. the membership contracts, the courts and physical assets, the accounts receivable), then they likely are *not* responsible for overcharges made by the previous owner. You'd need, in that case, to look to recover from the prior owner(s) of the club.


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