Residents living in Hornchurch have felt bullied and intimidated by staff at a Hornchurch gym after trying to leave despite not having a contract and being told they could leave at any stage.
Locals including an NHS worker have been sent endless messages and emails saying that their details would be passed on to debt collectors if they stopped paying their monthly fees despite telling the gym that they wanted to leave.
The NHS worker who did not wish to be named told the Havering Daily:”With the cost of living crisis and the long hours I am doing, I cannot afford to use the gym anymore. I informed them that I was stopping and that is when the emails and text messages began saying that my details would then be passed on to debt collectors.
“I emailed them in April to cancel my membership and they had assured me when I joined that I could cancel at anytime with no fee. Yet now they are charging me and threatening me with debt collectors.
“I have been accused of lying and have had to pay fees.”
The NHS worker cancelled her direct debit to this gym on Hornchurch High Street and has since been sent many text messages and emails asking her to continue with her direct debits months after she cancelled her membership and never even signed a contract.
“When I cancelled they didn’t mention I had any outstanding costs I owed until June and by this time they added their own late fees. They accused me of lying and said I hadn’t sent them a cancellation email which I then forwarded to them.
The Havering Daily has seen the emails and text messages that clearly state : Your Anytime Fitness membership is in arrears. If we do not receive payment your membership will terminate and your account will be passed on to a credit control agency.
These messages continued to arrive despite the email sent back in April clearly informing the gym that the local resident had chosen to leave and had not signed any membership and was told they could leave at any stage.
Another local resident has also spoken to the Havering Daily after encountering the same treatment from this gym.
“Exactly the same happened to a member of my family. Despite not having signed a contract and clearly informing the gym that they wanted to leave, they faced costs and the same emails from the gym.
“I took further action and luckily put a stop to it as they were also sending my family member the same emails and text messages.”
In response to this, the team at Anytime Fitness in Hornchurch told the Havering Daily:
As a locally owned business, we understand the importance of the local community and are proud to have received many reviews which compliment the friendliness and professionalism of our team.
Our team communicates to all potential new members that memberships are either 3-month, 6 month or 12-month agreements. Whether a member signs up online or in-club, they are provided a full copy of their membership agreement to review and sign before they commit to a membership. This helps to reinforce the clear communication from staff and ensure that there is no misinterpretation of the duration of their membership agreement.
We appreciate that circumstances can change and as well as a 14-day cooling-off period, all members are able to cancel their membership in writing within the commitment period against criteria that are detailed in their membership agreement. This includes a change in income or employment circumstances.
As detailed in their membership agreement, all members are required to provide written notice or use the online cancellation portal when requesting a cancellation of their membership. However, in some rare instances, individuals cancel their Direct Debit instruction at the bank without providing written notice.
At this stage, our team communicates with these members to request that they reinstate their Direct Debit so the member avoids their account falling into arrears. We allow up to 80 days for this process and if the member is unresponsive or doesn’t reinstate their Direct Debit, unfortunately we refer their account to a third-party agency as our small team is unable to continue communication with the member alongside providing our high-levels of customer service in-club.
We have supported several worthy, local causes since our opening in February 2020. This includes raising over £400 for the King George & Queen’s Hospitals Charity last year and celebrating NHS key workers by giving out weekly Amazon vouchers during the first lockdown.
We are proud to be part of the Havering community, and play our part in supporting health & wellbeing in the local area.”