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Gym won’t cancel my membership despite Covid crisis

Miles Brignall
·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA</span>
Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

Can you please advise us whether we are being treated fairly by our gym? A year ago my partner and I signed a 12-month contract at David Lloyd for both of us, costing £140 a month. The gym was closed for five months because of Covid and as a result the club says it has extended our contract by five months.

The gym we used reopened last month, but we have no intention of going and sharing facilities with other people as we don’t feel it is safe.

Despite us being at the end of the 12-month term, David Lloyd has refused to cancel our membership, saying that we are still within our first 12 months of payments. It means we have to pay £420 to cancel the contract.

When we joined my partner was self-employed, but he was forced to give that up because of Covid. He has managed to secure a job as a delivery person, and this is keeping us going financially. The prospect of paying £420 to David Lloyd is causing a lot of stress and I feel it is very unfair given the circumstances.

EH, Edinburgh

I imagine a lot of people are facing a similar conundrum as many have had a big drop in income over the past six months. You will not be the only person wondering if they want to spend time in a confined air-conditioned room in which lots of people will have been breathing heavily that day.

On the face of it, David Lloyd cannot unilaterally change its terms and conditions. The small print it refers to is a member’s “commitment to pay for the first 12 full calendar months” of membership, which can be interpreted either way. Arguably, you have paid what the company has asked you to for 12 months and should be free to cancel.

The company, though, takes a different view and has refused to budge, except to offer to reduce what you need to pay from four to three months’ fees.

“We are very empathetic to the current situation which is impacting both our members and our own business and as such have worked to manage individual members’ needs. In this particular case we have offered as a gesture of goodwill and also made it clear we would offer further help for members who are shielding, medically unable to use the club, have suffered financial hardship or have changes in personal circumstances that we would also consider, however we do need proof of the situation,” it says.

In your shoes we would try to argue financial hardship and ask to be released from the contract, and if that fails freeze the membership for the maximum period allowed, which is nine months. Hopefully, things will look much brighter by then.

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