Unaffordable to Join the Gym
Gym memberships have come under scrutiny as a recent investigation revealed them as being unfair as members are tied into contracts for as long as three years.
The Office for Fair Trading (OFT) has welcomed a ruling from the High Court that techniques and minim contract length terms were unfair and unenforceable.
These techniques enforced by Ashbourne Management Services Limited were scrutinised in particular, as the company draws up membership agreements and collects payments for over 700 gym clubs.
Ashbourne have been found to routinely state consumers are unable to terminate their gym membership even if it has become unaffordable or impractical for them to use it.
“We have received many complaints about Ashbourne’s contracts, and many consumer have felt pressured into paying sums of money that they believed they did not owe,” commented Jason Freeman, OFT Goods and Consumer Group director.
“Unfair terms that unreasonably bind consumers into long contracts they cannot leave, and heavy-handed collection techniques have no place in businesses’ dealings with consumers.”
The investigation by the OFT found if consumers stopped paying, Ashboune would demand immediate payment of the full sum, and if they still refused to pay, the company put pressure on them by threatening to damage their credit rating by referring their debt to a credit reference agency.
By July 2009, Ashbourne had registered nearly 17,000 defaults with credit reference agencies.
The judge who heard the case brought against Ashbourne conceded that 10 out of the 13 contracts reviewed were completely unfair. The judge also ruled that Ashbourne should not report or threaten to report consumers to credit reference agencies under certain circumstances.
Budget with a Prepaid Card UK
If you are finding daily expenses like gym membership too much to afford in the current economic climate, a prepaid card UK could help you stay within budget each month. The card does not have an overdraft facility so users can only spend the money they loaded onto the card, preventing overspending.