/ Health

Brief cases: gym user fights unfair contract

Many gym goers have endured higher fees, difficulty cancelling a contract and favourite facilities being unavailable. But while some might just shrug and accept this, Linda was determined to act…

Which? member Linda Bromley joined her local gym on a monthly contract. Her main reason was to use the pool, but it was soon out of action and became unusable for long periods.

To make matters worse, she noticed that the gym membership fee had increased by £3 a month without her knowledge.

Linda

Linda said that when she complained to the gym, it said she was on a roll-on contract, and the terms and conditions of it allowed the company to increase prices when it wanted to.

This is wrong. It can’t do this in what are called ‘standard form consumer contracts’, such as the one that Mrs Bromley had – contracts where the terms are not individually negotiated at the point of forming the contract.

Advice on gym contracts

Mrs Bromley came to Which? Legal for advice. She told us that she had never seen the terms of the contract. We advised that as she had never seen these, and hadn’t given positive consent to a rolling contract or increases without fair warning, she could challenge those terms as unfair under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999.

The gym also said it had told members about the price increases by email. Mrs Bromley said that the changes were only mentioned in one of the many marketing emails that the company had sent her. She felt that these weren’t clear and had the important information well hidden.

We advised that the only course of action was to issue proceedings in the small claims court.

The judgement went in favour of Mrs Bromley and she was awarded £283.54 to cover the money she had paid since the increase, plus expenses and court fees.

Just because a company says something is right doesn’t make it right. Have you had a similar experience to Linda, or have you not felt confident enough to fight it?

Comments
Profile photo of NFH
Member

Too many consumers assume that businesses will have checked the legality of their contracts with their lawyers and therefore consumers give in and don’t challenge them. Consumers need to fight back and should not tolerate this kind of treatment. I’m surprised that the above case got to court. Most businesses would have settled before that point.

Profile photo of jgh30
Member

I once used a gym whose small print purported that the operator had no liability to pay compensation if it killed you but could go on taking subscriptions from your estate.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

No company can waive their responsibility for death due to their negligence. I cannot remember whether any such claim is illegal or just not legally binding.