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I certainly agree with you that this does not sound too good and that their actions are rather suspicious. I would say that in the circumstances you have the right to cancel the direct debit because you have not received the service for which you had signed up and you have also now lost faith in them.
You can cancel a direct debit at any time – you have the legal right to do so. It just means that if they were unhappy about it because they did not get the payments you had promised them they can try and pursue you for breach of contract. Whether they do that is questionable – they will have to pay court fees and perhaps legal fees to do so and I do not see them going that far in this case, especially as they may have a weak case. It is always a potential risk but I think the risk is quite low here.
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It is not a legal requirement to send a physical letter of you can contact them via email. You may do so as a back up but you are not legally obliged to do that as well.
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if the contract was signed at the trader’s premises then there is no automatic cancellation period and that would only apply if it was given by them in the contract.
However, all types of consumer transactions are subject to the requirement by the trader to issue the consumer with specific pre-contractual information. If this information is not provided then the consumer would not be bound by the contract and it can also be a fineable offence for the trader. Details of the required information can be found here:
· Contracts entered on the trader’s premises - http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/3134/schedule/1/made
The 14 day cancellation period may be extended by up to 12 months if the trader has failed to issue the consumer with notice of their right to cancel. Once that information has been provided within the initial 12 month period, the cancellation rights of 14 days start to run from the date after the consumer receives that information.
So if you were not provided with this information you can still argue that the cancellation period of 14 days by law should start to run from the date the information is given to you.
If this was given to you at the start, there is still a possibility to argue that if they have not provided you with the service you signed up for that you have the right to cancel for breach of contract.
Thanks for the update
what are you specifically hoping to achieve?
you can do. I very much doubt that they will take you to court for this, if they have had issues in the past then they would not want to go to court to have their practices exposed publicly