Did you know when you sign up for a fitness membership in BC, you are entering a contract that entitles you to certain cancellation rights? Find out how this real BC consumer exercised her rights to cancel her contract after being repeatedly denied by the gym.
Consumer story: BC regulator helps consumer out of unlawful contract
Jaclyn’s* gym membership was put on hold due to the pandemic. Months later and out of the blue, Jaclyn got a surprising email from her gym.
“They said my membership was active all of a sudden and they were trying to collect money from the last 11 months,” said Jaclyn. “I told them if the membership was active again, I wanted to cancel it entirely. I wasn’t comfortable participating.”
After much back and forth, the business would not cooperate. They would not let Jaclyn cancel her membership. The business claimed that because they had a certain clause in the contract about cancellations, Jaclyn was locked into the contract.
“It was very stressful,” said Jaclyn. But then Jaclyn remembered that Consumer Protection BC had helped her in the past and decided she would contact them to see if they could help in this situation too.
After providing necessary information to the investigator, Jaclyn was advised that the business could not charge her for the extra 11 months of service. Because the contract had exceeded the maximum length of 24 months, Jaclyn was not locked into the contract and was within her rights to cancel. The clause in the contract was not in compliance with the laws for these contracts in BC.
Consumer Protection BC contacted the business on Jaclyn’s behalf and advised them to stop trying to collect payment and that they were obligated to allow Jaclyn to cancel the contract.
When asked about her takeaways from the experience, Jaclyn encourages others to not give in so easily and to ensure whatever contract you sign has legitimate terms.
“You can’t sign your rights away. Businesses might put rules in your contract that don’t line up with the law.” Jaclyn encourages other consumers to reach out to Consumer Protection BC if in doubt.
*Names changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
“You can’t sign your rights away”
Most businesses are allowed to set their own return, refund and cancellation policies. However, there are specific contracts and transactions that are regulated in BC that entitle you to certain rights. In these cases, you may have specific rights under BC law that supersede any clause or policy you may have agreed to when you signed the contract.
For example, if you sign up for a gym membership, you might be entering what’s called a continuing services contract. These contracts can’t exceed 24 months and after that, the membership must move to a month-to-month term. This allows you to cancel your contract by giving 30 days notice.
Where to go for more information
If you’ve committed to a fitness membership (gym, yoga, spinning, boxing, etc.), you’re probably entering what’s called a continuing services contract. We regulate aspects of these contracts, including your cancellation rights. Explore our website to learn more about your cancellation rights for fitness contracts in BC.
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About Consumer Protection BC
We are not-for-profit regulator responsible for overseeing certain industries and specific consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will try to offer a referral to a relevant organization, if one exists. Other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.