As mentioned at our Club Night in March, the committee proposes to offer the option of collecting annual membership subscriptions by direct debit. Arrangements have been set up with GoCardless, an online direct debit agency and, subject to confirmation at the club’s AGM, will be launched in May.
Why direct debit?
Direct debit offers many benefits, both for the club and for members. For example:
- Automating collection would save a huge amount of work for the Membership Secretary, who currently has to send (often several) reminders to a member, collect cash or a cheque in payment, and then bank it or ask the Treasurer to bank it, before finally issuing a new annual membership card.
- Automating collection would also be easier for members, avoiding the need to send a payment by post, or to attend the next club meeting in order to pay by cash or cheque.
- The club would save costs by reducing the amount spent on postage.
- Any new members applying via the website would be able to pay their annual subscription immediately, at the time of applying.
- The club might retain those members who forget or are unable to pay by post or in person at the time, and are therefore struck off the list of members, but who in fact wish to retain their membership and come back to us a few months later.
- Potentially, the system could also be used for once-only payments such as the Christmas Party deposit or amounts due for visits, tours and shows.
Is Direct Debit safe?
All rules of the direct debit scheme will apply, including the Direct Debit Guarantee:
The Direct Debit Guarantee
- The Guarantee is offered by all banks and building societies that accept instructions to pay Direct Debits
- If there are any changes to the amount, date or frequency of your Direct Debit, GoCardless will notify you 3 working days in advance of your account being debited or as otherwise agreed. If you request GoCardless to collect a payment, confirmation of the amount and date will be given to you at the time of the request
- If an error is made in the payment of your Direct Debit, by GoCardless or your bank or building society, you are entitled to a full and immediate refund of the amount paid from your bank or building society – if you receive a refund you are not entitled to, you must pay it back when GoCardless asks you to.
- You can cancel a Direct Debit at any time by simply contacting your bank or building society. Written confirmation may be required. Please also notify GoCardless.
Additional safeguards that the committee will apply:
- Any change to the amount, date or frequency of JEC Essex Thameside’s annual membership subscription will be advertised separately, normally at the time of the club’s AGM in May and via the newsletter and website, in addition to the notification from GoCardless.
- If, in future, the system is used to collect other payments, e.g. for the Christmas Party, tours or shows, details of the amount and date on which payment will be collected will be advertised separately via the newsletter and website at the time of inviting members, in addition to the notification(s) from GoCardless.
- The GoCardless scheme will be administered by the Treasurer and Membership Secretary, subject to independent audit at any time by the Chairman or Secretary.
How will it work?
GoCardless is a paperless system, only accessible online, and you must have an email address.
We shall offer two options for signing up. In both cases the Membership Secretary or Treasurer will be happy to talk you through by phone.
Option 1, for signing up at the time of membership renewal
Roughly six weeks before your current membership is due for renewal, the Membership Secretary will send you an email reminder. The email will contain a link; clicking on the link will take you to the GoCardless system for signing up. You will need to enter your first and last names, address and bank account number, then choose a password and confirm. Provided all details are correct, you should then receive a confirmation from GoCardless, and your first payment will be made automatically on or about the 10th of the next month.
Option 2, for signing up at any other time
We shall provide a button or link in the “About Us” section of the JEC Essex Thameside website. Clicking on the button or link will take you to the GoCardless system for signing up. You will need to enter your first and last names, address and bank account number, then choose a password and confirm. Provided all details are correct, you should then receive a confirmation from GoCardless. However no payment will be taken until the Membership Secretary or Treasurer have added you to the relevant payment plan for the month in which your next membership renewal is due.
Making direct debit payments
Annual membership subscriptions will always be paid once a year, on or about the 10th of the month that your membership is due for renewal.
A notification from GoCardless will be sent to your email address three working days before every payment, just as a reminder. You do not need to do anything, and your bank will make the payment automatically on the relevant date. It will appear on your bank statement as a direct debit payment to GoCardless.com, with a reference number.
Do I have to pay by direct debit?
No, members are free to choose whether they prefer to pay by direct debit or by cheque/cash. However the committee would remind members of the benefits and safeguards of direct debit, and hopes that most, if not all, members will choose it. This system will assist with keeping a cap on our membership fees, provided enough members are willing to undertake this. The committee agreed to hold off any increase this year, subject to take-up within the first year of this proposal.