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I attended a gym in Michigan and canceled my membership on 8/28/19. I paid month to month and was under no long term contract. Even though I moved and haven't visited the gym since 8/17/19, I'm being charged for the entire month of September. My contract states that I needed to cancel by 8/20/19 in order to avoid being charged for September.

Even though the contract lays this out, can a business legally operate in this manner? I'm being charged for a service I'm not using. The gym claims that due to processing and accounting fees, cancellations must be performed before the 20th every month in order to avoid paying for the following month. If so, shouldn't I receive a partial refund and just be required to pay the additional processing fees?

It's not reasonable to assume that you have to cancel before the 20th every month. The gym belongs to a local college, and I'm just a student. Surely, they could allow me to pay a late processing fee and receive a partial refund. I'm trying to research whether Michigan allows for these kinds of practices.

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    Sorry, but this is just you learning the life lesson that you need to actually read contracts and decide whether they are acceptable to you before you sign them, and then have integrity with the choice you made. This is often a much more expensive lesson, so be happy the tuition is so low... – Harper Sep 15 at 8:28
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    good job you didn't sign up to scientology's billion year contracts – Emobe Sep 16 at 14:20
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    Don't forget that the vast majority of lawmakers are either business owners and/or have campaigns financed by business owners. I don't mean to sound jaded, but don't be surprised that the deck is stacked against you on this. Engage in recurring charges to ANYTHING at your peril. – corsiKa Sep 16 at 15:46
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    Also consider that the costs for the gym to adjust their post-processed numbers and to also have all other involved parties adjust their numbers would probably out-weigh your gym membership fee – Mars Sep 17 at 4:22
  • The title combined with the location made me think I could write a comment about how much better the consumers are protected in Europe. However, then I read the question and found this is actually allowed here (at the very least charging you until 9/28/2019 is and those last few days aren't going to make the difference) because it's not considered to be problematic... – Jasper Sep 17 at 12:33
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Can a business put whatever they want into a contract?

No. There are some things a business cannot put into a contract. But I don't see anything stopping them from putting this into a contract.

It's not reasonable to assume that you have to cancel before the 20th every month.

It's not reasonable to assume that - except there's no assumption needed. The contract states it flat out.

You are most likely stuck paying. Requiring cancellation about 10 days in advance of the month doesn't seem like it would be an unconscionable clause. (Requiring cancellation 10 months in advance would be a different story.)

Michigan law does say the following is prohibited:

Taking advantage of the consumer's inability reasonably to protect his or her interests by reason of disability, illiteracy, or inability to understand the language of an agreement presented by the other party to the transaction who knows or reasonably should know of the consumer's inability.

But I doubt that applies in your case.

It also prohibits:

Gross discrepancies between the oral representations of the seller and the written agreement covering the same transaction or failure of the other party to the transaction to provide the promised benefits.

So if you were promised you could cancel at any time without notice or penalty, but you later found out the contract said differently, this law may apply.

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    How to proof the latter is than another story, isn't it? – Zaibis Sep 16 at 12:29
  • I'm used to this kind of thing collapsing when rendered unservicable due to moving out of state, but I can't actually say your interpretation was wrong. – Joshua Sep 16 at 19:33
  • Plus, if the Gym are processing a large number of payments, then they might be sending a Batch List of details to their bank to process on the 1st of the month. This usually needs to be done in advance, so the Gym might have to send it through on the 25th. This would then give them 5 days to ensure you are removed from the list, even in event of IT Failure or National Holidays. – Chronocidal Sep 17 at 7:36
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Yes, a contract that gives you a right to use a facility for a specific period of time is valid; it does not matter that you didn't or don't plan to use the membership. There is also no law limiting the advance notice required to cancel a contract, and no law requiring that a term contract be cancellable. It is true that the contract could have been written differently, and maybe you could have found a gym with a "cancel at any time, get a refund" clause. The AG has a FAQ about health club memberships, which basically says "read the contract".

In the United States (and other jurisdictions), there is a legal doctrine "freedom of contract" that says that people have the right to bind themselves via contract. There are certain limits on contracts, and legislatures frequently pass laws prohibiting certain kinds of clauses in contracts. Landlord-tenant laws are a typical example; the 3-day cooling off cancellation law is another. In principle, a legislature could pass a law prohibiting contracts which give a user a right to use some property for a given period of time, so that cell phone contracts or club membership contracts would have to be based on actual usage. Alternatively, the law could could specify a maximum advance notice clause (e.g. "any contract can be cancelled with 24 hours notice"). These are political questions.

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    @user27343 they're not failing to provide the service. – djsmiley2k Sep 15 at 13:51
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    @user27343: When you signed the contract, they agreed to stop the service if you would cancel before the 20th. You were informed of this, you could have read it in the contract. You forgot to read it, or forgot to cancel the service before the 20th. Unless you were in a very specific situation that you did not mention (e.g. being in a coma because of mistakes by the company or being kept hostage by an employee), there is nothing immoral about the company's actions. I understand why you are unhappy, and I would also be unhappy, but nothing indicates that the company is being immoral. – Pakk Sep 15 at 17:25
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    @user27343 it's not their fault your chose to move far enough away that you can't use their gym – Andy Sep 15 at 20:48
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    @user27343 it’s not predatory because they didn’t mislead or coerce you. You didn’t pay attention to what you signed your name by; that’s on you. – Tim Sep 16 at 0:10
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    @user27343 Look at it this way: a "month" starts on the 20th. You didn't cancel before the start of the month, therefore you are due the fee for the month. Sometimes contracts include a refund for the period you don't use. Sometimes you park your car an hour and 2 minutes and it costs you 2 hours. – AmiralPatate Sep 16 at 7:41
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Even though the contract lays this out, can a business legally operate in this manner? I'm being charged for a service I'm not using.

100% and this is Best Practice for a business. The issue is not the fact you're "Not using it". A Gym like many other "memberships" and even Property Management does what's called Monthly Posting. They Post for the upcoming month around the 25-28 of every month for the Next Month.

As a good business practice you charge for the Month coming up. Never at the End. This avoids members or tenants from using something for free and saying "Nah I'm gunna cancel". Kinda like what you're suggesting. So they use resources on you and you don't pony up? That's not how it works.

The opposite (of your "complaint") would be true on the gyms end. What if you move (which you did) and never attended the gym? You then won't pay them for September even though it's assumed you have been there. So the Service is being used, metrics being generated, data assumptions, accessories being ordered thinking you've been there all month. Then, you're the scab. If a business does this (what you're saying is "illegal"); they'd lose a lot of money. Never bill for the Month that passed.

This is legal. Posting is done this way. They have a cancellation window so you dont get included in the Posting for September. If you called/cancelled properly you could've settled on a prorated rate.

Sorry, this is on you. You have no case.

  • CMIIW, but to generalize this case, I think some memberships/subscriptions (particularly, online service subscriptions) don't specifically set the Next Month Posting around 25-28, but at the date the first time you subscribe and charged. So, if you cancel the subscription before that date, then you won't be charged for the next month, but still can use the service until the next charge. At least that's what I've been experiencing with most of the online services, – Andrew T. Sep 16 at 18:43
  • Gyms tend to go in the Direction of proration nowadays. Your example is true for World of Warcraft, Bumble, LinkedIn etc. For Gyms they sign you up, prorate it if it's towards the end of the Month and put a Set Date for your Payment. So they can keep the entire gym on the same Posting period. Same is true in Property Management. Rent's due the 1st of the Month regardless of when you moved in/lease execution. This was probably in OP's contract they just didn't read it. – Matt Sep 16 at 18:47
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    Please don't use codeblocks for anything that is not actual code. Emphasis or storing emphasis are both available. – Nij Sep 17 at 4:25

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