Dear Liz: We’re having trouble with a gym that won’t stop charging our credit card. My husband has contacted them multiple times about canceling our membership, but the charges just keep coming. The contract we signed is really confusing, but it clearly states the gym can take 10 payments from our card. They have now taken 13 payments from our card. I just don’t know what to do to stop them.
Answer: Some gyms make their money by providing workout facilities. Others make their money by signing people up for contracts, then continuing to charge credit cards or bank accounts even after those people cancel.
This isn’t a mistake or an isolated incident. This is the gym’s business model, and it will continue to charge you until you push back—hard.
Don’t make any more phone calls that will just be ignored. Start by sending a letter to the gym by certified mail, return receipt requested, repeating that you want your membership cancelled. Keep a copy of this letter and the green receipt you get back in the mail as proof you provided proper notice. If the gym requires that you give 30 days’ notice, and many do, you may have to pay one more month’s charge.
If the gym charges your card after that, however, contact your credit card company and send them the proof you canceled your membership. You also should contact your local Better Business Bureau and your state attorney general to file complaints about this gym.
In the future, avoid gyms that push contracts. Instead, look for one that allows you to pay on a month-by-month basis. Many communities have non-profit YMCA or similar organizations that provide workout facilities at reasonable cost—no contract required.