IMPORTANT! Membership Prices and Refund Policy Changes (from 1st June 2019)
We're changing our membership fees, the direct debit sign-up offer, and our refund policy with effect from 1st June 2019.
We're sure there will be plenty of questions and things people will want to know about it, so we have provided this FAQ to help you to get the answers quickly.
If there's something you want to know that isn't here, let us know and we'll answer it for you and add it here - chances are someone else will be wondering about it too!
MEMBERSHIP PRICE INCREASE
Q) Why are membership prices being increased?
A) Because we need to increase our income to reflect higher operating costs.
Q) When do the Membership prices increase?
A) From 1st June 2019 for fixed term Memberships. If you pay by direct debit, your next scheduled payment will be affected. (June 1st if you pay in June; or the 1st of the month you usually pay your direct debit in.) Payments are taken on the first day of the month, and the same month each year, depending on when you signed up. If you want to check when your next payment is due, raise a support ticket and the staff team will confirm the date your next payment is due.
Q) What are the new membership prices?
A) Firstly, a reminder that there's no membership price to be a Pay as You Go (PAYG) member of OutdoorLads, although PAYG members pay higher prices when booking onto most events.
Our Full Membership prices are:
- 3 months (£21.00) which will rise to £24.80 from 1st June 2019
- 6 months (£35.00) which will rise to £41.40 from 1st June 2019
- 12 months (£55.00) which will rise to £65.00 from 1st June 2019
Full Membership at the Concession price (£10) for 12 months will rise to £13 from 1st June 2019.
Full Membership paid by Direct Debit will rise to £65.00 (for both new and existing Direct Debits) for payments taken from 1st June 2019
Q) I thought that OutdoorLads was making enough profit, so do we need to do this?
A) Our accounts show that we are currently making a loss, and that’s not sustainable. These changes will go some of the way to resolve the situation.
Q) Why are membership prices being increased by more than inflation this time?
A) Because we need to catch up with the last seven years of frozen prices. Our last membership price rise was in March 2012, when we introduced the £55 rate. We used an inflation calculator to determine what this would be today. The cost of goods and services over this period has risen by 19%.
With the benefit of hindsight, we should have been increasing them by inflation every year, and if we had, then they would now be at the level we’re going to. After this step change, we’ll be looking at smaller, inflation type increases every year in future years, always on 1st June.
Q) What are the new Membership prices?
A) 12 months Full Membership was £55 and is now £65 (by Direct Debit or annual fixed term membership). 6 months fixed Full Membership was £35 and is now £41.40, and three months was £21 and is now £24.80. 12 month Concession membership was £10 and is now £13.
Q) When will my first payment at the new rate come out of my account?
A) For existing full members, this will take effect on your next payment, which is always on the same date every year, on the first of the month. If you're joining us for the first time by direct debit, you'll receive an e-mail when we have your direct debit to let you know when the first payment will be taken.
Q) What if I take out a Direct Debit, does the discounted offer for year 1 still exist?
A) The annual Direct Debit price goes up from £55 to £65. For people taking out a Direct Debit for the first time, the first year will be discounted by 20% (this used to be 50%). The other benefits of Direct Debit (including the free t-shirt in the first year) remain as today.
Q) Do I get a free t-shirt every year?
A) A free t-shirts is sent to members in your first year of direct debit membership only, they are no longer supplied annually or upon request.
If you wanted another at any time, we do sell them at £10 including P&P to a UK address - just contact the office on 0161 420 0001 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q) If I become a PAYG member instead of a full member, how much extra will it cost me to go on events? Can I still go on events I've already booked? I'm a leader - would I still be able to lead events?
A) Day events like walks and socials, which full members get for free, cost £10 for PAYG members. Overnight events like camps and hostels cost £10 per night more for PAYG members than full members. It's worth looking at how many events a year you do and considering which form of membership is best for you. Don't forget that full members get money off at Cotswold Outdoors, the YHA and other retail partners too!
You can still attend events you've already booked if you become a PAYG member - it's you membership status at the point you book that counts. PAYG members can be leaders too, so that's unaffected.
Q) How can I find out if I'm eligible for concession rate membership?
A) Concession rate membership is available to those who are aged 30 and under, or in full time education, or who are in receipt of income-support style benefits. We'd need to see evidence of this. Concession membership from 1 June 2019 is £13 per year, and concession rate members have all the benefits that full members receive, with some slightly lower prices on some paid-for events. You can find out more about concession rate membership on the membership menu, when logged into the website.
Q) My direct debit has come out of my account because I forgot to cancel it - can I have a refund?
A) When your direct debit was originally set up, you were sent an e-mail that confirmed that this is taken annually, on or around the same date, and the amount. We will notify you of any changes to the amount (as we have done with the recent price change.) You can cancel the direct debit with your bank or us at any time, and will continue to benefit from full membership until the end of the period you have paid for. However, as it is your responsibility to manage the direct debit, authorised direct debits that we collect will not be refunded.
REFUND POLICY CHANGES
Q) Where can I read the new refund policy?
A) It's right here.
Q) Why is the Refund Policy being changed?
A) Based on feedback from members, there’s frustration with people who speculatively book events with the likely intention of cancelling their place later, often at the last minute. The knock on impact on others is considered by many, including the Trustees, to be damaging to the group as a whole, including members who are on the waiting list and are genuinely hoping to attend, those who didn’t even consider it worthwhile to try the waiting list, and leaders of events where the event goes from over subscribed to below full capacity on the day.
Q) How were the changes decided?
A) The new policy is designed to give people a chance to book and quickly confirm with their employer that they can get time off work, but to address the speculative bookings of members when events initially go live. We also want to better reward anyone who signs up to a waiting list, they after all pay the same price as someone on the event, but without knowing for sure they can get a place, so they will no longer face an admin charge if they cancel their waiting lost place. The changes are categorically not driven by an attempt to increase revenue, and we are not expecting additional revenue to come from them. Instead, we believe they will encourage more considerate behaviour of Members when booking, and cancelling, events.
Q) What are the key changes in the Refund Policy?
A) Firstly: if you book and cancel more than a month ahead, then you have a 48 hour window to cancel and get a full refund (minus £5 admin charge). But otherwise, the maximum refund is then 80% (subject to a minimum £5 admin charge), and like today, it reduces in steps as the event approaches, eventually to 0% in the week up to the event.
Secondly: If you are on a waiting list when you cancel, you get a full refund but now with no admin charge deducted.
Q) What happens when the event is closed to bookings?
A) The default closing time for bookings is 48 hours before the event start time, for day events. However, the leader of an event may have set it earlier of later than that, if they felt it appropriate. Paid for events like camps and hostels, booking closes at midday two days before the start, so usually Wednesday, and this is set by the office.
Once booking has closed, it is no longer possible to book a place, or to cancel. Instead, a new button will appear on the event page to explain the implications. If you were seeking to cancel (it’s too late for that) you'll be encouraged to contact the leader to advise you won’t be attending, so that they aren't waiting around for you to turn up.
If you're still on the waiting list when booking closes, you unfortunately have not got a place on the event and will get a full refund (which might take a few days.)
Q) If there are people on the waiting list when I cancel, why can't I have a full refund, as OutdoorLads aren't out of pocket?
Members sometimes ask if they can be given a full refund if, when they cancel their place, there is someone already on the waitlist who might take it. Their logic is that OutdoorLads will otherwise receive income from two members for one event place. We would like to be clear that, under both the current and the new Refund Policies, a full refund is not given in this circumstance because:
It would encourage members to speculatively book popular events (where there is likely to be a waiting list) that they are not really committed to attending, to then ‘squat’ their event place and only decide much later, even at the last minute, whether or not they wish to attend. Cancelling does enable someone on the waiting list to attend the event, but it imposes unfairly on that person, who has genuinely wanted to go on the event the whole time, but only gets to find out late in the day that they have gained a place, often even at the last minute, and having been on hold for the time they spent on the wait list. The member on the waitlist has paid in full but has had much less value from their booking than the person who holds the confirmed place and then cancels.
If the cancellation is made in the immediate run up to the event, and the Member promoted from the wait list then also decides to cancel, it would then be the Member who held the place for weeks or months only to cancel at the last minute that would receive the full refund, and the Member who had been on the waitlist, without a guarantee of attending, who would get no refund. That’s clearly not fair on the wait list member.
It can mean that OutdoorLads receives event fees (less costs) from two people for one place, but to do otherwise would require us to make up the lost income by increasing the event prices for all Members, which would further disproportionately reward those who book speculatively, have a guaranteed place, and then cancel and would penalise those who pay full price to join a waiting list, with no guarantee of attending.
In the interests of fairness and consistency, it would not be right to make refunds available to those who had booked onto events that have a waiting list, but not to those who have booked onto events that still have places available.
Please take care therefore to actively manage any event bookings and waitlist bookings that you make, and to cancel them as soon as you decide that you no longer wish to attend an event. The Refund Policy is designed to promote considerate and respectful behaviour amongst all our Members.
Q) When do these changes take place?
A) The new Refund Policy will apply to bookings made on or after the 1st June 2019.
Q) What happens for existing bookings
A) If the booking was made before 1st June 2019 then the former Refund Policy will apply (regardless of when the cancellation was made.)