> UWE student Shanna Jones felt hassled and threatened by UWE sports, who harangued her for money owed over activities she did not taken part in

The University has received criticism from one of its students after attempting to charge her for unauthorised sports membership fees.

Shanna Jones received an email requesting payments of £215 for what she believed to be accommodation. After much confusion she was passed on to Helen Worboys, Operations Manager of sports at UWE. The fee was for sports membership of which Shanna had not signed up for.

She told WesternEye: “I had never signed up for a sports membership and I certainly didn’t want one and couldn’t afford it.” Shanna, who studies Journalism with Media and Cultural Studies was told that she had completed a direct debit form titled ‘Accommodation License Fees’ that she believed was part of her rent.

“I felt like I had been tricked into it” she said “It was very, very confusing whether the fees were from the university or from my UNITE accommodation – neither seemed to have a clue. I was becoming increasingly worried, especially seeing as the email was from ‘service agresso’ which seemed odd. I thought it was a scam.”

On several occasions Shanna requested to cancel it, citing that she could not afford the fee but was told to “come along to the induction anyway”. “I took matters into my own hands” she told WesternEye. “I went to the bank and cancelled my direct debit.”

Shanna then received what she describes as a “very brutal email”, telling her that unless the fees were paid, she would be kicked out of her accommodation.

Ms Worboys commented, saying “The situation was unfortunate for Shanna, but we never had any intention to upset or cause her any anxiety throughout this. We have apologised to her for the inconvenience caused.”

However, the distressing situation caused Shanna to miss lectures and under increasing pressure, she turned to her mother for help. After speaking to Alex Isaac, head of sports, on the phone whom Shanna claims “sounded like a robot”, her mother was told that the fees would have to be paid.

Shortly after she received a phone-call from Mr Isaac, stating that there had been “a fatal error in their system.”

“They had forgotten to send out the actual forms for the gym membership, meaning that there are many people in my situation who are living with UNITE who may not even realise that these fees are for a gym membership and not for rent fees” explained Shanna.

Shanna describes the actions of the sports institution as “sheepish” claiming that she still receives emails warning her of imminent payment and the repercussions if she did not pay the cash.

Shanna told Western Eye “This ordeal has left me very angry and I want as many people to know about this as possible.”

If you or anyone you know has had a similar experience, please write to: newsandpolitics@westerneye.net