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Some Background:

My wife utilized a personal training service from a fitness/gym company in Michigan. She signed up for a year contract knowing that she would have to move approximately 9 month into the contract. That contract expired last month, and (to nobodies surprise), we got billed again this month. Digging though my records, I have a signed contract stating that the service is for 1 year, and then goes month-to-month. I have placed 2 phone calls giving the requisite 40 days notice that I wished to cancel, the first time I was informed that I must make an in-person visit to cancel (a 3 hour drive one way for me), the second time I was assured it would not be renewed as month-to-month. Fast forward to this month, I get a bill where I don't expect one.

Question:

I contested the last charge, which was outside the scope of the original year-long contract. I also had my bank re-issue my credit card so they cannot bill me further. What can this fitness company try to do to keep taking my money, and what can I do to either head them off, or prevent them from charging us for a service we don't use, and have no intention of using, and is also not under contract anymore?

Location:

Michigan, USA

UPDATE: A phone call to corporate seems to have resolved the issue. I still ended up getting a new CC number, and contesting the last charge. Will update again if anything ugly happens.

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what can I do to either head them off, or prevent them from charging us for a service we don't use, and have no intention of using, and is also not under contract anymore?

That kind of notifications always should be made in writing, and in a way that allows you to prove that the other party received it (e.g., by email or a printout letter with a copy signed by the other party as receipt).

If you are aware that the gym has recorded your phone call, you should ask it (and that means in writing) to preserve that recording in the event that the matter ends up in court. The sole request might reveal to the gym that you are willing to bring court proceedings if the gym insists to act unlawfully. Even if the gym eliminates the records despite your request not to do so, that would weigh against them because it would constitute spoliation of evidence.

It would be helpful if in your email or letter you reflect that you even went to the gym, in accordance with the directions the gym gave you.

If the gym persists with charging you and/or reports you to a collections agency, your first and easiest recourse is to file a grievance with the Michigan consumer protection agency (I don't know the exact name, as agencies' names may change over the years).

For now, as a precaution, you might want to send your phone service provider a request for preservation of records of the call(s) through which you gave your 40-day notice. That is the typical term for asking the phone company to create a back up of your records, since by default phone companies keep records for about a year. Ask that the preservation include the standard information: source number, target number, date/time of the call, and duration.

Regardless of whether the gym records phone calls, the fact that visiting the gym now takes you a three-hour drive [each way] suggests that the purpose of your phone call was to give the 40-day notice. Hence the potential relevance of retrieving those header records from your phone service provider.

  • Generally good advice. However, I think one (the most?) important part is missing: As a fallback, repeat the cancellation in writing (indicate you are only doing it as a fallback), so you don't continue to rack up fees, even if it turns out you cannot make the earlier cancellation stick. – sleske Sep 1 '18 at 7:32
  • @sleske "I think one (the most?) important part is missing: As a fallback, repeat the cancellation in writing (indicate you are only doing it as a fallback)" I believe I implied that in the second and third paragraphs, since the OP's description (of what records to preserve) is likely to reflect his intention to terminate the contract. But yes, I agree that emphasis on that aspect is a good idea. Thanks for pointing that out. – Iñaki Viggers Sep 1 '18 at 12:35

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