Last week I used a problem my wife had with fitness club payments to illustrate the downside of automatic bank account withdrawals. Ultimately, the outcome was favourable for us, but only because of a strange twist.
The saga began when my wife signed up my son to use the fitness club for 3 months, but she was made to pay by automatic bank account withdrawal. We were told that my son could cancel after three months without penalty. This turned out to be an empty promise. The contract was for a year.
When my son cancelled, he believed that the bank account withdrawals would stop. When my wife noticed they hadn’t stopped, my son went back and got another empty promise that they would stop.
After paying for an extra 4.5 months (9 twice-a-month payments), my wife stepped in. She was directed to the head office where they had no record of any promises to stop the withdrawals. As far as they were concerned, we would be paying for the full year.
The head office told us that our only option at this point would be to cancel for a $99 fee. So, what should have cost about $173 was going to cost $532. At this point we weren’t in the mood to roll over and chalk this up to experience. We were prepared to continue the battle, but it turned out not to be necessary.
The head office examined the contract and decided that my son had signed it but was too young (by only a few days). They declared the entire contract void and have returned all of our money including the initial three months!
This has worked out happily for us, apart from the aggravation, but there were some clear lessons. If my wife had signed the contract, the fitness club was prepared to stick to their guns. None of the verbal promises from the individual club meant a thing to the head office. To me, automatic bank account withdrawals aren’t worth the potential hassle.