Good evening and thanks for taking the time to read through. I've received some support on a different forum from a member of CAG - and due to further escalation of events, felt it appropriate to post in here for hopefully more valuable advice.
Brief version: Signed a contract with Anytime Fitness to run for 12 months ending Oct 31 2020. I attempted to cancel my membership in January with appropriate notice and was told in months the gym was closed to COVID, this would be added to my term. They are asking for 3 x monthly payments to end my membership and have now negotiated to two - but are still demanding that money + threatening automatic late fees and constant arrears texts. DD has been cancelled since end of Dec.
I initially contacted Anytime Fitness via email with the following message to express my wish to serve notice on my contract:
(email - 1)
"Good afternoon Anytime Fitness Taunton.
Please accept this email as my request to cancel my membership at Anytime Fitness Taunton. My contract was an initially 12 month term (ending October 2020), and as such with the listed terms and conditions I give notice that my membership will expire on February 28th 2021. If the gym was to reopen prior to this point, I would be happy to reinstate my direct debit and pay any fees for the days the gym was open up until this point.
Thanks for having me as a member.
I received a response the following response from the general manager of the gym the following day, saying my contract length ran until 31/03/2021 and i'd still be eligible for 3 x monthly payments to end my membership. This was due to my contract length being extended due to the gyms closure during lockdown. I responded with the following email:
(email - 2)
Respectfully, I signed a 12 month contract that then became rolling after October 31st 2020. I signed up for that period of time - (there’s no mention throughout the contract of anything other than I’ve signed into a 12 month period, and that following this “tie in” it would then become rolling month to month and to leave id need to give a full months notice. Furthermore there’s no mention in the contract re: freezes and that having any effect on the term of the agreement). That period of time has now passed. I’m happy if the gym reopens before the end of February to make payment for any time where the facilities were back open to be used.
Exactly a week later, I received the following response:
(email - 3)
"Thank you for your email and apologies for the slight delay in response.
I completely understand your reasons for wishing to cancel and will help as best I can. Unfortunately, though, it is stated within section 8 of the terms and conditions that any months your membership is on freeze will extend your commitment end date accordingly. See below:
"Any suspension during the Commitment Period will extend the length of the Commitment Period by the length of the period of suspension. Notice to terminate membership cannot run concurrently with a suspension period."
We have received 8 out of the 12 agreed monthly payments as set out in your membership agreement. You were given the month of November 2019 free as a joining incentive, which brings us to just three final payments of £27.95 required.
I would kindly ask that you reinstate your direct debit so we can collect the final payments when they are due (no payments will be taken whilst we are closed). You can do this by logging in online or following the link that I will send you via text shortly. You will also be able to make payment of the January arrears online also.
I hope this makes sense. If you have any further questions then please don't hesitate in getting back in touch, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
It was at this point I reached out on a different forum for help. There were mixed responses but the most thorough, helpful reply was from a CAG member who then directed me to place my story on this forum. Using their advice and that of a couple of other posters - I sent this response:
(email - 4)
"I refer to the following which is the first clause stated within the contract:
"I confirm that all of the above information is correct and wish to apply for membership of the Club under the standard terms and conditions which I have
had an opportunity to read and discuss with the Club. In particular I understand and have discussed the following with the Club:
1. I acknowledge that my initial membership of the Club is from 01/10/2019 and will end on 31/10/2020 (the "Commitment Period") (subject to
extension if suspended by reason of my illness or injury) and agree to pay the full amount due in respect of this Commitment Period."
For you to inform me that my commitment period has now been extended due to a generic "freeze/suspension" clause in the contract is very unreasonable. The words freeze/suspension are only mentioned twice in the terms and conditions of the contract, are not clearly defined and there is no specific reference as to what should happen in the event that the gym closes in circumstances such as these. In the terms and conditions that I signed, the only specific mention of what constitutes a hold/freeze are, as highlighted, in the event of sickness or illness. There is no mention of whether memberships will be frozen/extended in the event of the gym being closed.
Furthermore, the gym should be providing a 24 hour, 7 days a week service to access the facilities and equipment within the gym. The failure of the gym being able to provide this I consider to be a breach of the contract I signed. From my perspective, I have fulfilled my obligation to remain a member of the gym for duration outlined on my contract and have provided payment for the months the facilities were accessible during the time.
I therefore reiterate I wish to terminate my membership with the gym on 28/02/2021, provided a full months notice as required in the contract. Should the facilities become available for use between now and this time, as a good will gesture I am happy to reinstate my contract to cover the cost for potential use of the facilities for the time period covering the reopening of the gym, until 28/02/21.
I then today received the following response from the gym manager, two weeks after the previous email sent by myself:
(email - 5)
"Thank you for your email and apologies again for the delayed response.
I understand the points you have raised. Although the terms and conditions that you have stated yourself confirm that you "agree to pay the full amount due in respect of this Commitment Period". The signed Commitment Period being from 1st November 2019 - 31st October 2020 is a total payable amount of £347.40 over 12 months (not including the £39.00 joining fee).
The unfortunate circumstances around lock-down, club closure and the freeze of your membership are out of both our control. We have done all we can as a business to assist members during this time by placing everybody on a free membership freeze. We do, however, have to ask that the minimum agreed amount set out in your contract is paid once we're back open.
Again, we would not expect you to make direct debit payments whilst the club is closed hence your membership is on freeze.
The only month we have not been 24/7 access is August 2020. This was the first month we had re-opened after the first lockdown, and I'm sure you can understand that it was important we remained staffed whilst the gym was back open. We needed to see that COVID measures were being adhered to before we could open our doors back to 24/7.
Moving forwards, I would be happy to write off one month owed, to compensate for the month of August 2020 when you were not able to access the gym 24/7. Our records show that you haven't ever visited the gym outside of staffed hours, so this is purely a gesture of goodwill on my part. Therefore, two final payments of £27.95 will be required before cancelling your membership.
You can make one payment of £27.95 online currently as that's showing as the January arrears for the moment. You can then reinstate your direct debit so the final payment is taken when we re-open, or you can pay that with me over the phone. I'd advise to do so as soon as possible as automatic late charges can be applied."
Im tired of emailing the gym back and forth, but ive received numerous texts calling me to reinstate my DD and now an emailed threatening 'automatic late fees'. My current opinion of the matter is that firstly in (email 3) they mention any suspension will extend the commitment period of the contract, but the first term of the contract is that it's subject to extension only if suspended by reason of 'my' illness or injury. Secondly, in (email 5) the gym manager says "you said yourself that you agree to pay the full amount due during the commitment period" and then goes on to attempt to illustrate a point that this means I owe the gym 12 separate payments. It is not mentioned in my contract that I owe 12 x monthly payments - and I made payments for every month the gym was billing during my commitment period (not my fault the gym was closed and wasn't billing for several months due to Covid19).
I'd like to further understand members opinions of where I stand legally regarding not making any further payments to the gym and to complete my cancellation notice period of leaving at the end of February 2021.
Thanks for your time and I look forward to our future discussions.