29 September 2022

Your wins: debt collectors chase pensioner for unpaid gym fees after cancelling membership

Recently we helped out a 70-year-old pensioner who had debt collectors chasing her for unpaid gym fees, despite the fact she had cancelled her membership within the cooling off period after joining.

Vivienne responded to a Facebook advertisement for a weight loss programme run by a company called Healthy Inspirations. She had a Zoom interview with the company and ended up handing over her bank details. She said she stated that they shouldn’t do anything as she wasn’t ready to proceed and needed some time to think.

Two days after answering the Facebook ad, she realised she could not afford the membership as her husband was in the middle of a health scare, so she told the gym she did not wish to join after all. But the next day, two payments were deducted from her bank account – a $99 set-up fee and an initial fortnightly payment of $59.90.

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That’s where things started to get messy. She called Healthy Inspirations again to complain about the money being taken out of her account when she had not signed any kind of contract. She was told she needed to call Debit Success, which is a direct debit management service.

So she contacted Debit Success, but was told she needed to contact Jenkins Gym to cancel. This was the first she’d heard of Jenkins Gym. Then she discovered Healthy Inspirations is a programme run by Jenkins Gym.

Vivienne managed to find an email address for the local Jenkins Gym club manager and emailed her, reiterating that she wished to cancel. The manager replied saying she would have to pay a $300 cancellation fee.

Meanwhile, Debit Success was still trying to deduct $59.90 from her account each fortnight. She put a block on those debits and so was referred to a debt collection agency.

That’s when Vivienne’s husband came to us.

We contacted Jenkins Gym to point out that Vivienne had informed the gym two days after her initial Zoom call that she did not wish to take up the membership. This was within the cooling-off period and therefore no cancellation fee should apply. We said she should be reimbursed for the funds taken from her account.

The gym admitted it had missed an email from Vivienne and agreed to cancel her membership and refund what had been taken from her account.

It took a while, but eventually Vivienne was refunded the $158.90 that had been debited from her account.

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