Locked into fitness club membership

Some businesses, Netflix for example, operate on a no contract basis  confident that their company is offering such a good deal to consumers that they are prepared to make it easy to leave, knowing that many will return.

Businesses less confident in the service they are offering hide onerous cancellation terms in the long screed of small print.

Examples of the latter business model include fitness club membership.

A 72 year old close relative signed up in January of this year for gym membership of sportsdirectfitness.com – a UK business owned by the ethically challenged billionaire Mike Ashley. (Is there any other kind?)

As could be expected, membership cancellation rules for his gym club offshoot are difficult to decipher. It’s easy to join and devilish difficult to depart.

It took several emails before I received clarification about the cancellation terms. My first emails were ignored.

I then explained that the member in question had developed a serious medical problem threatening her eyesight and necessitating laser drilling of both pupils to remove pressure to reduce the possible onset of glaucoma. Complications arose from one operation.

I provided a hospital appointment letter confirming an eye operation early in July. I advised that a further operation would follow.

I received a response which did not contain any expression of concern for the relevant members health. The hospital appointment letter was first ignored then rejected. This from a company you would expect to be interested in the health and well-being of its members.

The company has given a half-hearted written apology directed at me rather than the relevant member, but is still demanding a cancellation fee, a months notice and a doctors letter likely to cost anywhere between £10 and £40.

My relative said that when she joined, no one at the gym expressed the slightest interest or concern about her physical or mental health despite knowing that she was over 70 years old. Not a word was said about her age or mobility. They just wanted her signature on the contract.

Exercise for the elderly is good, provided certain sensible precautions are borne in mind.

The following is an extract from an article entitled “Exercises for People Over 70

As long as individuals over 70 are cleared by their doctor, moderate exercise offers numerous health benefits. Seniors should strive for a balanced workout including aerobic activity, strength training and balance and flexibility exercises. Staying active benefits seniors’ physical, emotional and mental health. The physical activity of people over 70 should be closely monitored by a medical professional as seniors are at a higher risk for complications.

Other gym clubs offer tailored activities for people over 60 and a supervised gym session for older adults e.g. Central London’s largest gym.

That seems a sensible approach rather than the hardline non-caring, money driven, contract enforcing regime set up by the controversial character Mike Ashley. No such warnings or policies were drawn to the attention of my relative by his gym club.

Current or former members of SportsDirectFitness.com are invited to contact me if they have had a similar hardline un-compassionate response from the unethical company in regard to its contract terms.

If there is sufficient interest I might set up a website focussed on SportsDirectFitness.com. A central hub could assist dissatisfied customers. Advertising income would cover running costs. It could include a version of our Shell Blog, thereby providing an online facility for past and current disgruntled staff (and whistleblowers) to anonymously post information about the business activities of Mr Ashley.

SportsDirectFitness.com have seen the above article before publication and were given the opportunity to point out any inaccuracy for correction.

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