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.
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
Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.
The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.
Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.