Trouble cancelling your gym membership?

24 July 2009

If you think getting a divorce is a hassle, just wait till you try breaking up with your gym.

Many gyms provide excellent customer service until it comes to trying to get out of your contract. Many have small print three-month cancellation notices that must be sent in writing, and other small print penalty charges.

These stupid money grabbing tactic not only piss off and reduce the probability of ex-members returning to the same gym, but in tough times, forces to make 'criminals' out of honest people.

The Office of Fair Trading has recently looked into the matter and supposedly got the fitness industry to make their contracts less blatantly favourable for the gyms. But cancelling gym memberships at these larger chains is clearly no simple matter. 3 months is a real hassle for people who are moving house, or have emergencies that require them to perhaps leave the country. Hefty cancellation fees are also often unfair in certain circumstances,

Have you had a bad experience with your local gym when it came to cancelling? Please share them in the comments below. We'll compile the best of them so that we can all collectively learn from your woes (as Jane Fonda would say in the 1980s, 'no pain, no gain!')

26 comments

  • Tom P.
    Hello, what's happened to the BW link at HUKD? I had to use some new fangled thing called "Google" to find you guys!!
  • Gus
    Gyms are for people with more money than sense anyway! You want to get fit and earn money? Get some shfits at your local farm ( unless you are in a huge city). LOL
  • Joff
    I moved house to an area that didn't have a Fitness First gym, so wrote to my current gym to advise I would be cancelling. I don't think they had ever received a real letter through the post before and certainly had never written one so it was no surprise when I failed to receive a response. So I just cancelled the Direct Debit with the bank and never heard anything since.
  • Chris
    I cancelled a Gym membership that I was no longer using as much as I should for the cost. Being naive and stupid I was at a point in my life where I didn't check my bank statements; therefore I didn't notice that for the next 18 months or so I was having £30 a month taken from my account. It was only by chance that when I was filing the statement, I wasn't entirely stupid, that I caught a glimpse of Fitness First on there. I then went back through the previous ones and discovered my stupidity. I had no proof that I'd tried to cancel my membership so I had to swallow that £540 mistake. There's no reasoning with these people. I did try and argue that surely their records would show I hadn't been to the place for all that time and that out of decency they could at least refund half. Apparently not as my being on the books meant that others couldn't join as the gym was at capacity. I then argued that I hadn't used the facilities so had helped in keeping costs down. At this point they basically told me to stop being an idiot and get out. I didn't leave until I had a signed receipt from the manager stating that they accepted my notice of cancellation. A very big mistake but one I leant from. I now check all my statements thoroughly and keep a very close eye on my accounts.
  • Ian
    Take a look at www.thegymgroup.com Obviously only useful if you live near Guildford, Hounslow, Vauxhall or Liverpool, but luckily I do!! No fixed contract, only £15 a month, and open 24 hours a day. And no I don't work for them! Just love their product.
  • magicbeans
    i went in to cancel mine; wow did their faces turn from stupid smileies to maing me feel scum in the blink of an eye!
  • Paul S.
    @Tom - our stories are still featured on HUKD, but they're spliced with those from the hipster ruffians at DealSpwn. One of them has drank out of my favourite mug this morning. They'll be getting a lesson from leftie and rightie, to be sure.
  • Justin M.
    My local LA Fitness had a creche that was open 5 evenings out of 7 so that our toddler would be looked after while my partner and I trained in the gym there. Gradually the creche went from being available to us 5 days to just 1. They didn't have enough children to make it worth opening the creche and paying their staff. Not much use to us when we wanted to train 3 evenings per week. They had effectively broken our agreement by not having full facilities open to us but wouldn't allow us to leave our contract early. It meant she (casual gym user) had to stay home with our son while I (committed fitness enthusiast) went alone for the last 2 months of the contract and basically paid double (c. £80) for the privilege.
  • jedi m.
    why not simply read the contract before you sign it, instead if moaning when you want to cancel and cant because of a condition you coudnt be bothered reading
  • acecatcher3
    ive never had a problem before but are ppl able to look over the terms and conditions and then negotiate the leaving part? ie if u have to pay 3 months after u say u want to leave, can u say that ur willing to only pay 1 month extra before u sign? u really should have linked the article you guys wrote on how to get cheap membership aswell, the one when u talked about the right time of the month to sign up for a gym where the workers are dying for some commision etc.
  • Jase
    Fitness First are very sneaky when it comes to signing contracts...it seems not all the T&Cs are covered on the sheet you sign (I could probably scan and show you one). I've not yet tried to leave them (I feel I get my money's worth of £25.95 a month with 12-16, 90 minute sessions), but a few friends/colleagues have told me that they will try things not mentioned anywhere in the T&C's of the contract...just to see if you'll comply regardless to it not being stated anywhere (they hope you've lost your copy by this point and can't refer to it). They tried to force a friend to pay the rest of year's "contract" off when he cancelled, but he'd being with them over a year and wasn't required to (you sign 1 contract with a minimum of 12 months, it is not renewed after...only extended). All he had to do was give written notice 1 month before wanting to cancel. They threatened first with bay-lifts, then with court action...done not through Fitness First but a 3rd party company that spoke like you owed THEM money. When I was at college I took on a short-term, 3 month contract with Fitness First to last me until I went to university...After 6 months (I'd let it extend) I went to cancel, they said that a short-term contract never existed and it was a 12 month contract (I'd have to pay the remaining 6). It was only when I showed them my copy of the contract that they believed me (it was specifically a student offer contract) and let me give notice.
  • Jase
    Oh and another note... If you freeze your contract with Fitness First, you have to give 1 month's written notice (you fill out a form stating that you want to) to say you want to freeze your account...it costs £7.95 a month and it has to last a minimum of 2 months (if you bring it back after 1 month, you pay the £7.95 on top of your monthly subscription). Plus, the amount of time that your account it frozen is added upon your existing contract (the frozen months don't count towards your contract). So I signed May last year, froze for 2 months and my contract is due to run out end of this month. I would like to add that it was the staff that honestly pointed both things out to me, instead of me combing through the T&C's...so at least some employees at FF have a conscience!
  • Simon
    I was made redundant over Christmas, and with David Lloyd paying £76 a month, which was due to go up to about £79... so that was the first thing I needed to cancel, I rang up and explained and they said they needed to see my redundancy letters for proof (and they wanted the lot, originals, which had all my personal details on! I wasn't allowed to photocopy and black-out any sensitive information)... which I hadn't yet received. I had a 6 month minimum contract, with a 3 month get out clause. But if your made redundant you can cancel immediately. I cancelled the direct debit, and it being Christmas, didn't get chance to take my redundancy details in. In the meantime I received a missed-payment letter for the DD almost immediately for January, and then about a week later a demand from a debt collector for the missed payment with another £50 on top for fees! I went in and explained to DL, and they said they would cancel my membership but would still have to pay the missed fee, but they wouldn't let me back into the gym for the month I would have to pay for because my membership was cancelled... So basically I paid £75 for nothing.... after some complaining they did let me off the extra £50 though.
  • DX
    So what about when a gym decides to increase the price per month on a contract?? I have just received a letter today which went on about 'exciting, new facilities', then at the end of the letter said there will be a £2 increase as per next month! Are they allowed to do this? Surely you sign a contract to pay that fixed amount per month for the length of the contract?
  • Jase
    @DX I've been with Fitness First since May 2008 and within that time they've increased the monthly subscription twice. No new facilities have been added, but nor has my monthly subscription gone up (its the new price for new subscriptions). I don't think they're allowed to do that...or at least if they do they have to give you the opportunity to leave. In a contract there are terms and conditions, but the price is also part of that. If they change the price (or the T&C's), they have to notify you (and give you a copy) and allow you to opt out...but there's usually a clause that says that if you don't respond in a certain amount of time (/ continue to use the facilities) then you accept the new contract.
  • Stephanie
    First of all I'm not sure what you mean about "making criminals" out of them. I used to work at a gym and yes it IS very hard to get out of a membership (heres the trick, if you can find a way to show that you are moving far away they'll usually let you off. Most contracts have a clause in it that if u move a certain distance away from the gym you can get out of your contract without paying any penalties!)
  • Cancelling B.
    [...] week, we gathered your thoughts, opinions, and experiences on cancelling your gym memberships. We’ve since compiled your best stories, tips and tricks [...]
  • del
    fitnes first colchester, wont give you a copy of T and C to take away with you, just tell them you didnt join for life, after 3 months they give up
  • Patricia
    I went to Fitnes First club at begining of May to freeze my membership due to pregnancy. The lady I spoke to told me she cam do it from the 1st June and I won't be paying a penny until 1st December. I was really happy it was so easy and she was really nice. I asked her if I need to sign anything but she said it's all sorted. On 19th June when I checked my statement I found they charged me £31 as normal for June. I went to the club again on 23rd June to axplain that my membership is frozen and I've been told they don't have any records about that. They asked me who frozen my membership but I didn't know. I said that I asked the lady if I need to fill anything but she said it's all sorted and they agreed that they don't give any forms. Then they said they can freeze my memb from August because it's too late now for July so I need to pay for another month as well. That's £62 now and I cant even use the gym as I'm in 33wks! I rang the customer service to see if they can do something and I heard the same story. They don't have any records saying I frozen memb on May and they can't do anything. It's so unfair! It must be the way to win this case as it's not my fault their staff can't do their job properly. How can I trust them now that my membship will be frozen from August. Please help...
  • Hayley B.
    I have tried to cancel my membership as I was moving out the country, they told me I couldnt do this as I was signed up for twelve months, I was not told this in the induction! I have written to them as I was never given a induction to use the equipment as when I joined I didnt have time to do it then and there and was never invited for another! I feel this is very dangerous and in breach of contract, so will see how it goes!!
  • Ripped M.
    @ Hayley, if your leaving the country tell them to get fucked!
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    hi!,I like your writing so so much! proportion we communicate extra approximately your post on AOL? I need an expert on this house to unravel my problem. Maybe that is you! Taking a look forward to look you.
  • Carrie R.
    How do I cancel my membership? That's all I want to do. Where do I go to do this? Where do I go?
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  • Jeremy
    I moved out of a city to a new town 400 miles away in the middle of 2012. I was a member of a gym in my old city, and was on a month to month contract for many years. I called them a few months after moving to my new town, and after talking to a few different people over the course of a few days, I was assured that my membership would be cancelled the next pay period. This never happened. Instead when I called and left messages, I was either left texts or voicemails from managers explaining that they could rework my contract because they had "heard" I wasn't satisfied with my current one. Give me a damn break. Anyways, their tactics ended up working, and eventually life kept me busy and I began to just "eat" the charge every month. It's now been almost 2 years... and I'm diving in again, and I will not be taking no for an answer... even if I have to take legal action. I love fitness, and gyms can be awesome... but it's so unfortunate they take advantage of their customers when it's time to leave. I wasn't trying to leave a contract early, in fact I was paying triple what a contract person would pay because of the month to month. I paid this amount for over 6 years. You'd think I'd be the last person they'd give trouble to.

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