Palm Harbor, FL asked in Collections and Contracts for Florida

Q: Can I dispute a debt from a collections agency that I feel is unjust?

I was planning on attending university, so I put down a $300 reservation for a room, though around a month later I had to cancel due to financial reasons. When I applied for the room, an email was automatically sent to my student email account connected to the university which had terms stating that there was an $1100 cancellation fee. I had no idea of this contract's existence until I received a letter in the mail around 6 or more months later stating I had an outstanding balance. I feel that this is unwarranted as the college undoubtedly had no issue filling the room after I canceled, I had already paid hundreds of dollars to reserve my spot, and they knew my reason for the cancellation was financial. I'm afraid that I might be stuck having to pay this balance, however, I will have no money left if I do so. I am unsure how to move forward.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Charles M.  Baron
Charles M. Baron
  • Collections Lawyer
  • Hollywood, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: This is a fairly simple legal issue - either your entered into a valid contract agreeing to the cancellation fee, or you didn't. To enter into such a contract, you would either have to sign it in ink or electronically, or check an on-line box agreeing to terms and conditions that you are able to view (usually with a link to "terms and conditions"). If you have "no idea of a contract's existence", either (A) there is NO contract that you agreed to, or (B) you made the mistake of agreeing (such as by checking on online box) without reading what you were agreeing to and not saving the terms of agreement by printing or saving to your computer. So you need to determine which of the above is the case, then seek legal guidance. In the meantime, send a letter or other written communication to the collection agency disputing the debt, and such communication should ideally be with proof of delivery.

Terrence H Thorgaard agrees with this answer

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