lifestyle

Why won’t Virgin Active cancel my contract?


I took out two consecutive 12-month memberships with Virgin Active. With the second none of the terms and conditions were confirmed and no new contract was signed but a fee agreed for the 12 months. At the beginning of this year I wanted to cancel as I hadn’t been using the gym but decided to wait until the end of my contract to let Virgin Active know I didn’t wish to renew.

When I didn’t receive any correspondence that my contract was due to end, I checked the emails from when I agreed to commit to another 12 months, and found that I had less than two weeks left. I emailed but got no reply so I cancelled my direct debit. Once I did this, my gym got in touch but refused to cancel my membership, insisting I continue with a rolling contract at an increased cost.

I have now received correspondence from a debt collection agency asking for nearly £154. One month’s fee should only be £49.99 so I’m unsure how it came to this figure. It seems that Virgin Active has ignored my request to cancel my contract and was also trying to impose new terms and conditions. I hadn’t used the gym for at least the last month of my 12-month “contract”.
LD
, Wrexham, North Wales

Your letter highlights a crucial issue with gym memberships. Many people assume, not unreasonably, that cancelling a direct debit after the end of a minimum membership period effectively ends that membership. But gym companies insist you remain a paying member until you formally cancel.

Rather worryingly, you were contacted by the debt collection agency yet again. But we are reassured that Virgin Active has now cancelled most of the debt and you agreed to pay £38 as a final payment.

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Virgin Active says it “understands this member’s situation is frustrating” adding: “Here at Virgin Active we require 30 days’ notice when cancelling any of our memberships as outlined in our contractual terms and conditions. We have been in contact with the member and have worked together to rectify and concerns regarding the membership.”

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at consumer.champions@theguardian.com or write to Consumer Champions, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number. Submission and publication of all letters is subject to our terms and conditions



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