[Insider info] A local gym instructor informed us that they have over 200 people who have active gym memberships but they’ve not been for over 12 months.
This generates the gym £84,000 a year in effectively ‘Free’ money which is crazy when you think about how many gyms across the country are of a similar size. In 2011 the UK was wasting £37million a year on unused gym memberships!
The problem stems from people signing up for contracts (lots of them in January hint hint) without reading the small print, presuming they’re not legally binding contracts and then presuming they can just cancel at any point.
Some of you will argue tough luck, you signed up to a contract and should use it or face the consequences however for those people who are in the sticky situation this guide will help:
What do I do if I want to cancel?
- Check the paperwork they gave you when you signed up (if you’ve lost it ask for a new copy), generally it’s a contract you signed and agreed to (just like a mobile phone contract).
This should give you clear information on any minimum terms (length of contract) and list out details of how you cancel your membership.
- If the gym / the services they supply etc are poor and don’t meet the standards you agreed to then they may have broken their part of the contract.
- If your contract consist of any of these it might be classed as an ‘unfair’ and this may enable you to force the gym to cancel your contract
- the contract renews automatically without your permission
- the contract describes your membership (after the initial period, normally 12 months) as fixed when actually it’s a rolling contract (i.e. month by month)
- the minimum contract length is longer than 1 year
- it states your contract is only cancelled once a letter is sent to you by the gym
- any of the terms are unclear or not in easy to understand English
- if the gym doesn’t take responsibility for personal injury or death
- the gym has changed what you get for your money, e.g. it included swimming pool access but now the pool has closed.
- there is a clause which allows a major price increase, but doesn’t allow you to end your membership
- If you’ve suffered an injury or your circumstances have changed (e.g. lost your job) and this would make you attendance difficult or unaffordable then the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) have stated that this could be a valid reason for a contract to be cancelled.
The problem is this technically can only be decided by the courts however if this is true then inform the gym of these changes and inform them you know of the OFT rules and most likely they will let you cancel early (but no promises).
- Send a letter to the gym, clearly outlining your intention of cancelling Example letter > http://10ws.co/1HoMdrz ensuring that you mention at least one of the above reasons why you believe you should be able to cancel your contract early. If you’re refused then complain (using their complaints procedures or by emailing the manager). Ensure your letter has a time frame for them to respond back by.
- If you’ve tried to complain to your gym and their management and still you’ve got nowhere then it could be time to look at small claims court http://10ws.co/1HoIFWi or to report the issue to the OFT http://10ws.co/1ApP3uq. Small claims court sounds expensive but in reality it can be well worth doing, especially if you’re out of pocket for several months worth of membership and believe you have a valid case, if you’re just trying your luck you might find yourself even more out of pocket.
- Be careful just cancelling the direct debits as this could become an unpaid debt.
£35 x 200 people = £7000 a month
£7000 x 12 months = £84,000
So £420 a year wasted by some people
What are the alternatives?
10 Ways To Get Fit Without Spending A Penny