Membership in gyms, clubs and timeshares usually starts with a contract that the prospective member signs. Once the contract is signed and the dues paid, the person is a member of the club. If a member becomes dissatisfied with his or her experience as a member of the club, they may want to cancel their membership. For example, if the club is a gym, and the person doesn’t want to attend any more, they must write a membership cancellation letter. It is not legal to simply stop paying dues or going to the gym. If the consumer does this, the club may use a collection agency to force the consumer to pay. In many cases, clubs make it difficult to stop being a member, which is why it is important to follow all the terms and conditions in the contract.
Most states have laws to protect consumers that give a specified time a consumer may get out of a contract after it begins. Each state’s Department of Consumer Affairs will give this information. If the state doesn’t allow a penalty-free time period to get out of a contract, the consumer must carefully read the contract to find out the process for cancellation. It may be possible to negotiate a lower monthly fee or waive a cancellation fee. If a manager of the club agrees to do this, the consumer needs to get the promise in writing, signed by the manager.
If the consumer doesn’t have a copy of his or her contract, they club should be able to provide one. If the club is not able to do this, it may be a legal violation. In the case of a gym, most contracts have a cancellation clause included in the contract. It will state if there is an early cancellation fee. The consumer must decide if the early cancellation fee is worth paying to get out of the contract, or if it makes better financial sense to pay the contract until it naturally expires. In some cases, the consumer may be required to pay the full membership fees as well as a cancellation fee.
The membership cancellation letter should be polite and firm. It is not required to give a reason for cancelling a membership, but, in some cases, it may help maintain good relations with the club. If the reason is out of the consumer’s control such as poor health or moving to another location, it may be a good idea to mention it. If the reason is because the consumer doesn’t like the service or facilities, it may be better not to mention it. In any case, it is not the place to criticize the club. The letter should have a professional tone and stick to the facts.
When cancelling a club membership, the consumer should:
• Pay all past dues
• Not use rude language
• Ask for a written confirmation of the cancellation
• Sign the letter the same way the contract was signed
• Keep a copy of the letter
Below is a sample membership cancellation letter for a fitness club. It should be written in formal business-letter style and sent by certified mail, so the consumer is sure the letter was received. If the cancellation is due to poor health, the sender may want to include proof in the form of medical documents or a letter from a doctor. A copy of the contract can also be included with the terms and conditions for cancellation highlighted to prove that the member followed the required steps.
Sample Membership Cancellation Letter
Consumer’s Membership Number
City, State, Zip Code
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Recipient’s Name:
This letter is to formally inform you that I am cancelling my membership in Name of Club. I have been injured in an automobile accident and cannot work-out the way I used to. According to the terms and conditions in the contract, I may cancel without paying the full yearly dues if my physical condition does not allow me to use the membership. I have enjoyed my membership in Name of Club and will continue to recommend it to my friends.
I have enclosed a letter from my doctor stating that I should not lift weights for at least seven months. I have also enclosed a copy of my Name of Club contract in which I have highlighted the procedure for cancellation of membership. As you can see, I have followed each requirement including the 30 days prior notice. I can be reached at Phone Number or at Email Address if you have any questions.
I request a written confirmation from you that my membership in Name of Club is cancelled. Thank you for processing my cancellation in a timely manner.
Consumer’s Printed Name
List of Enclosures: contract, doctor’s letter
By Andre Bradley