You may want to read this before signing up for your next gym membership.
Earlier this year, Sky Fitness, a gym located at HarbourFront Centre closed suddenly without warning. A Straits Times article this month reported that the gym had been making losses for the past 9 years since its opening, and had managed to accumulate a debt of up to $3.8 million.
At the time of closing, it had only $21,000 worth of assets for creditors to claim against.
Despite knowing that closure was imminent, it was reported that the gym continued to sell membership packages two days prior to its closing.
There are many ways in which gyms in Singapore can get their members to pay more than what was initially agreed upon. For that, we think it is important for you to know some of the most common tricks usually employed.
- Lack of transparency in published gym rates
When you run a business providing a service, it is expected that you publish the rates for the various components of the service that you intend to charge the public for.
For some reason, however, most gyms in Singapore do not seem to practise doing that. It is hard to understand why gyms need to be special when other businesses such as tuition centers, massage parlors or even spa publish all their rates flat out. Is it because the sales person has a different answer prepared each time he is approached by a different person intending to take up a membership? We suspect so.
- Increasing membership fee after you have signed up
After agreeing on the gym membership price that you would pay on a monthly basis, you sign on the dotted line – satisfied with the price that you are paying, and what you are getting out of it.
But how about this. The gym raises the monthly fees a few months after that. And you have no choice but to continue paying – even though you did not agree to this raise.
This happened to someone on our team. The gym decided to increase the membership price by $5 monthly midway through the one-year membership – citing “rising operational cost”. This was informed conveniently through an email, the kind that nobody usually reads.
When we checked with them, this was the reply we received.
As stipulated under Clause No. 3, “For monthly dues/renewal fee membership, subsequent monthly/yearly payments are made and must be settled by autopay or similar payment method. XXX reserves the right to increase your monthly dues/renewal fees based on its sole discretion without prior notice.”
We will let you be the judge of whether consumer rights are protected in this instance.
- Lifetime membership…until one of these 3 things happens.
So after spending an amount between $4000 to $8000 on a lifetime gym membership, you thought you never needed to worry about paying your gym fees any more. You cannot be any further from the truth.
There are three ways that the gym can still screw you over if they choose to do so.
1. The gym closes. Perhaps its management has decided to close the gym down only to open another under a different name. Your “lifetime” membership is gone.
2. You need to pay an annual renewal fee. You forgot to pay. The gym doesn’t remind you, choosing instead to conveniently lapse your “lifetime” membership. It is gone.
3. There is nothing to stop the gym from increasing its annual renewal fee to an absurd level. And there is nothing you can do to stop them aside from either paying the renewal, or allowing the “lifetime” membership to lapse.
So much for “lifetime” membership.
Do you have a story to share with us about the way your gym conducts its business operations? Share it with us.
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