Funny this should come up today. I’ve just this morning experienced a comparable example of dishonesty by World Gym, which has left me fuming and vowing to take it up with the Consumer Protection Foundation if it’s not rectified - not so much for the amount of money involved, but for the principle of it because I deeply loathe such flagrant, calculated blood-sucking thievery.
My situation is that, in early April 2008, I signed a 2-year contract for membership of World Gym in Xindian. I had to pay an admission fee of something like NT$4,000, plus a monthly fee of a bit under NT$1,300, paid automatically from my bank account at the beginning of each month. I also had to pay two months right away (i.e., an initial payment of NT$6,000+), with the first monthly payment deducted from my bank account one month later - meaning that I was always paid up two months ahead. I assumed this meant that my payments would cease after 22 months, i.e. the last payment (for the 24th month) would be taken from my bank account in February of this year, unless I agreed to renew/extend my membership.
After using the gym for only ten months, I moved away from Xindian, and couldn’t go to the gym any more. I accepted that I’d signed up for a 2-year membership, and that I’d therefore just have to swallow making that monthly payment of NT$1,300 until the two years expired - too bad, but my bad. I knew I could sell the membership to someone else and pay a small administrative fee for the transfer, but was too busy and couldn’t be bothered to do that. I didn’t know that I could have paid a “fine” of a few thousand NT to terminate the 2-year agreement at any time - that could have saved me quite a lot of money if I’d known, and I would have known it if I’d read the small print of the Chinese contract, but I didn’t do so. It certainly wasn’t pointed out to me when I signed the contract, but never mind, my bad, and I wouldn’t make any fuss about it (though there might be valid grounds for my doing so).
However, when I looked at my latest bank statements, I was surprised and annoyed to see that the payments to World Gym were still being made after they should have stopped. I got all steamed up, and immediately phoned World Gym to complain about this. They told me that I would have to go to the gym and sign a termination of membership before they would stop the payment demands. I got very angry, told them in no uncertain terms that this was utterly unacceptable, and said a few choice things about the thieving dishonesty and unlawfulness of this practice.
Today, I went all the way over to the gym specially to sort this out. I officially terminated my membership, and since the latest payment has just been deducted from my bank account (for the 27th month), told them that they must refund two months’ fees. They said no, sorry, we don’t do that - you are still a member for the next two months and can continue to use the gym, but we can’t refund any money. I, of course, exploded, explained exactly why this was totally wrong and unacceptable, and threatened all manner of dire repercussions (primarily, complaining to the Consumer Protection Foundation) if this matter were not properly resolved. The fellow who I was dealing with said he’d ask the big boss if they could do as I demanded, but the big boss wasn’t available then. I couldn’t wait around for the decision-maker to turn up, so that’s how I left it.
Of course, I do not expect them to do the right thing. They’ll hope I just forget about it. But I’ll give them a few days to contact me and tell me that they’re making the refund, and if they don’t, I’ll write a very strongly worded complaint to the Consumer Protection Foundation, and consider taking other measures to publicize and put a stop to this disgusting practice.