An "administration error" during Everyone Active's first week managing Stevenage's leisure facilities means 195 customers who had cancelled their memberships have had direct debit payments taken from their bank accounts.

Everyone Active began a 10-year leisure contract with Stevenage Borough Council on April 1, to manage Stevenage Swimming Centre, Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre - including the Gordon Craig Theatre - Fairlands Valley Aqua Park, Southfield Showground, Ridlins Athletics Stadium and Stevenage Golf Conference Centre.

"A seamless transfer of operations" from Stevenage Leisure Limited - which had held the council contract for 25 years - was promised, with a "guarantee it is business as usual for customers at all of the facilities".

However, during the first week of the takeover, Everyone Active emailed some customers saying "Sorry! We made a mistake..."


The automated email, which cannot be replied to, explains: "During the transfer from SLL to Everyone Active, cancellations were provided to us. However, due to an administration error, these cancellations were not processed. This caused us to collect from you."

Everyone Active says the onus is on customers to contact their bank or building society and request to claim the April payment under their Direct Debit Guarantee.

"Your bank or builiding society will refund this to you immediately and raise an indemnity claim with us directly," the company said.


Some customers emailing to query the blunder have received a bounce-back message saying "your message couldn't be delivered", suggesting automatic email redirects from SLL to Everyone Active have not been put in place as part of the transfer.

Contract manager Allan Prescott said: "Unfortunately, due to an administration error, 195 customers had payments processed via direct debit, having already cancelled their memberships.

"We would like to apologise for this error and any issues this may have caused.

"As soon as we became aware last week, we proactively let affected customers know the quickest way to claim an immediate refund – which is directly from their bank or building society.

"For all future enquiries regarding memberships, we advise customers to contact their local centre in person or via phone, or visit the website."