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Harlands Cancellation Issue


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I have a membership with a gym in Gateshead that I would like to cancel. I'm moving to a new place in Newcastle, and because I don't drive it will be completely impractical for me to go to this gym any more. But when I rang Harlands, who manage the payments, they said I need to provide evidence that I am moving outside of a 10 mile radius of this gym. This was not mentioned in my membership agreement, which you can read here:




Now, I'm only moving within a 5 mile radius (approximately 6-10 miles distance if you go by road), but it would take me nearly two hours to walk, and around an hour by bus to get (allowing for traffic and bus timetables) to the gym. I was told (with no guarantees) that if I put this in a letter, the gym would consider this when I asked to cancel. I'm not satisfied with this; I am a student, I can't really afford to keep a gym membership I'm not able to use if they decide to not let me cancel.


I would appreciate any advice that you can give me on how to handle this situation. Thanks.




I forgot to mention: I signed up for a two year membership originally.

Edited by obzen
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hi obzen


I have read your issue and think I *may* have a solution for you.


I also have a gym m/ship thro Harlands and am having the same problem canc my m/ship.


I didnt read the small print on the back of the contract when i signed up - bit silly but no one ever does do they?!


Anyhow...there isnt any obvious clause in my contract in which to cancel the m/ship - except under the renewal of the m/ship - v unconsumer friendly...


You *might* be able to get out of the contract by quoting the Unfair Terms In Consumer Contract Regulations 1999 at them.


If the contract I have is anything to go with - yours may be much the same...in which case the terms in it are pretty poor by consumer standards!!


Here is the letter that I have just sent Harlands...I should think that this should do the trick for you too. You just need to amend it where reqd and then send it by recorded delivery.


I am now waiting for a reply....


"I refer to your letter dated 23 July 2010.



I would like to bring your attention to the fact that it is NOT common practice for Health and Fitness Clubs to have a fixed minimum period. My last gym was one such as this, and I paid on a monthly basis and could leave whenever I wished without incurring ANY penalties.



I would also like to point out that I was not made fully aware of the terms and conditions of the membership by the gym staff upon joining, and any cancellation rights if any. I was just asked to sign the back of the pink form for my reference. I was never told in detail by the gym staff that I basically didn’t have any cancellation rights. Also at the time I signed the form, there were no visible signs on display warning of the full impact of the terms and conditions of the contract and definitely no reference at all about how you cancel your membership. Which by law, should be visible to all.



The "contract" for want of a word, falls under the remit of Consumer Law between an individual (consumer) and a business, this "contract" falls under both the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999.



Under the second Act, it clearly states under Regulation 5 (1) "a term is unfair if, contrary to the requirement of good faith it causes a significant imbalance in the parties' rights and obligations under the contract, to the detriment of consumers".


Your contract is worded in such a way that it makes it impossible for a member to leave during the term of the membership, and having to pay the rest of the membership fees without having use of the facilities, and is biased totally towards the company and not the consumer, myself being the consumer.



I would point out at this stage that the "contract" does not give any "member" the opportunity to cancel the membership during the duration of said membership, and therefore this would be seen as an "unfair term or clause" in the "contract", under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999.


As a point of fact, you might be interested to know that towards the end of last year, Total Fitness UK has agreed to revise its membership agreements for customers, following intervention by the OFT due to the unfairness of its contract terms. The OFT also issued High Court proceedings THIS YEAR against Ashbourne Management Services Limited which draws up membership agreements for a number of gyms and then collects members' payments, because of concerns about its compliance with consumer credit law and the fairness of its contract terms. In much the same way that you operate, I think you would agree.



I am familiar with the ‘Office of Fair Trading Debt Collection Guidance’ which states that it is unfair to send demands for payment or to cite possible debt recovery processes to an individual when the consumer has already stated that they are not liable.


In not ceasing collection activity whilst investigating a reasonably queried or disputed debt you are using deceptive/and or unfair methods.


Furthermore, ignoring and/or disregarding claims that debts are disputed and continuing to make unjustified demands for payment or threats of debt recovery amounts to physical/psychological harassment, which is a reportable offence to the police.


I am also familiar with Section 40 of the Administration of Justice Act.


I would ask that no further contact be made concerning the above account, and if I hear further from you again regarding this matter, I will have no option but to make a formal complaint to my local Trading Standards office, and consider informing the OFT of your actions. I am sure that you would not like the OFT investigating the way in which you operate.


I await your written confirmation that this matter is now closed.


I look forward to your prompt reply.



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Thanks for the response, I've drafted a letter following a similar outline to yours. I never imagined that a gym membership could be this much of a hassle, and I wish I'd checked the cancellation T&Cs before ever signing up. Can you believe they also wanted a £25 cancellation fee?


Good luck with your situation, and I hope you manage to find a new gym that doesn't use shady companies like this.

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Hi there obzen


no worries...nor me!!


I have become quite adept at sending companies - including debt recovery agencies - letters like this...


I have just got out of paying over 5000 pounds re a Barclaycard a/c I had over 6 yrs ago. as a result from my letter - they are no longer chasing me for the money!! i call that a result!!


Btw...i have already gone to another gym and there m/ship is on a month to month basis and I can leave whenever I want - no canc probs!! yey!!


I wld like to knw how you get on with yours - do let me knw...



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