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January 11, 2022

Are fitness clubs just one big scam?

Just about everybody seems to have a story about the gym membership that just won't die — complete with complaints about heavy-handed sales tactics, impossible-to-cancel memberships and collection agency nightmares.

Click here and here if you want to hear from some really disgruntled clients in and around Toronto, most of whom are toast.

But, unlike these unhappy wretches, you may still have a few options.

To protect yourself, understand the contract cooling off period in your province (10 days in Ontario). If you're still unsure, rather than signing up for a never-ending relationship (it actually can't be more than a year in Ontario), consider paying a little more for a month to month membership.

Get to know the laws regarding cancellation due to relocation, particularly if you're dealing with a national chain. If you're actually moving, and the distance to the gym is impossible, some gyms have clauses that may let you out.

More likely though, they're going to want to direct you to their nearest branch to complete your sentence. 

If you're really not planning on coming back, watch for the written renewal notice (mandatory in Ontario) ... that's your eventual ticket out.

And finally, when you do cancel your membership, do it in writing, in person, at the gym, with the club manager.

Have you had an experience like this? How did you get the fitness club to stop billing you?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...