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How Can I Get Out of My Gym Membership Contract?

Ask Savvy: How Can I Get Out of My Gym Membership?

Dear Savvy,

I've been trying to cancel my gym contract and the gym guy is making it impossible to get a hold of him to even discuss it. He said we could talk about canceling or reducing the rate, but every time I call and get an answer, he simply says to email him. Then, I get no response and when I call back, I get voice mail. When I go in during staffed hours, no one is available to help me.

I'm canceling because there is a trainer there who is like a pushy sales person and makes me uncomfortable. She calls, emails, and is just generally overbearing — she even tried to sell me a wristband on the treadmill. I couldn't imagine the regular customer service would be this bad, too.

I changed my credit card information on the website, because if this takes more than a month to figure out I'm disputing the charges. I know it's a contract and I signed it, but is there anything I can do?


To see my answer, just


Savvy says: Think twice about changing your credit card information on the sly — just because the salesman is dodging you doesn't mean you should dodge payment. It undermines your case and could put your credit at risk when they don't receive payment from a contracted customer; I wouldn't be surprised if down the road debt collectors come calling for the money you owe. Be responsible and handle this another way.

You're obviously not getting anywhere with the gym staff, so take the issue higher. Get in touch with a supervisor, and if that person doesn't help you continue up the ladder. Explain your situation calmly and mention that customer service has been all around unsatisfactory. Plenty of gyms are hurting for customers these days, and I'd be surprised if a supervisor didn't do her best to keep you as a client. Maybe that means reducing your membership rate or allowing you to negotiate a month-to-month membership.

If you'd rather be done with the place altogether, read through the contract you signed and locate the section that lays out the cancellation process. Typically, there is an exit fee involved with breaking the contract, but it may be worth it to you.

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
dikke-kus dikke-kus 8 years
Oh yeah. I had a dispute a long time ago. I'll never forget it. I was really young and didn't understand any of it. I tried to cancel the contract and they argued with me for an hour that it would be impossible. They made threats about my credit and acted like the end of the world was coming. I think I simply stopped paying it since I they didn't want to help me with any arrangements. After that I never signed another contract. I just payed by the month. No problems ever again. I think it did go against my credit report for a while then after a few years it just dropped off.
DefyAllLogic DefyAllLogic 8 years
Thanks so much. The last thing I'd want is for them to make my life difficult, ruin my credit and then I get fat from stress and not going to the gym... would they be more likely to let me out of the if I complain to as many people that will listen, including the Internet? All the clubs are independently owned but under an umbrella corporation so technically corporate can't do anything but if one place is spoiling the name then they might be inclined. I worry complaining about businesses and having them retaliate or something... is that silly?
lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
i disagree, i think the credit card idea was a good one. now the gym has a reason to call you. you wasted enough time on trying to contact them. and, you were already unhappy, so if this causes some additional issue in the future; did you have a choice? i don't think so, and i think you should try and document all the times you tried to contact the manager about your membership in case this goes to small claims court. in these hard economic times they must be getting a lot of people canceling their memberships; can't get blood from a stone. make them work for it.
Peggasus Peggasus 8 years
After my father died (seven years ago), I was trying to take care of some loose ends for my mother. I went to the local Y, where Dad and I both belonged at the time, to tell them what happened, and ask that they stop the automatic withdrawal each month for his membership. They refused, even after I talked to the 'supervisor' and anybody else, because it was in the 'contract.' The reason: we did not give them three months notice. Niiiiice, YMCA. Way to be compassionate. It wasn't the money, really, it was the point. And my mother had to look at the withdrawal on her bank statement for the rest of the time. Yeah, I'm still pissed. They did finally close down that facility, and good riddance.
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