Jackie Skelly Fitness: Club Membership Rip-off: Popular Complaints

 

If you are thinking of joining a Jackie Skelly Heath Club in Ireland you should read this page first. If you are already a member and are thinking of leaving, or have already tried to leave, then you will find it of interest as well.

Latest news if you’re a returning reader >>>

Background

Jackie Skelly uses a range of established and disreputable modern sales techniques to extract as much money from punters as possible. Some of these techniques will be familiar to you from shady second-hand car dealers and unscrupulous insurance salesmen. One indicator is that prices will vary wildly – the sales team will try to get you to commit to as much as possible – but if a “special offer” is necessary to get you to sign then one will be available.

One objective is to get you to commit in writing to pay for a year’s
membership. The words you hear may well not match the words on the piece
of paper in front of you – so beware what you are committing to.

You may not think of joining a club as creating a legally binding contract,
but Jackie Skelly does. And Jackie Skelly will use the same techniques
to enforce their supposed contract that you would expect of the dodgier
end of the second hand car market. If you thought Jackie Skelly Fitness
was something to do with fitness or health then think again. The principle
business activity of Jackie Skelly Fitness Limited as recorded when
the company was created is “ACTIVITIES
AUXILIARY TO FINANCIAL INTERMEDIATION N.E.C”

If you want to leave the club and stop paying you will find that there
is no exercise of the normal degree of understanding that you would
expect of a genuine Club. Indeed if you want to leave, the people you
speak to will tell you that they are not empowered to terminate the
contract. They might have been deceived into believing that Jackie Skelly
Fitness has no power to accede to your request to dissolve the contract
– though of course this is nonsense. Jackie Skelly Fitness is not bound
by some authoritarian legal constraint. What they really mean is that
they (the managers in the Health Club) have been instructed by the directors
of Jackie Skelly Fitness to take the most inflexible line they can legally
get away with.

Their first reaction will be to reach for a copy of the contract and
then inform you that they have no choice – and neither do you. You will
have to keep paying, and if you do not the heavy mob – professional
debt collectors – will move in.

You can see some the more outrageous terms in this extract from one of their supposed contracts.

 

Is this Reasonable?

There are several reasons to believe that this is sharp
business practice.

Abuse is common in pretty much all industries where the sales force
is paid on commission. Human nature being what it is, sales people naturally
have an interest in getting you to sign, whatever your needs, or stated
wishes, and their oral assurances that you are not committing to a year’s
membership are worthless. Jackie Skelly does not follow good practice
here – and indeed it is difficult to see why a Health Club – rather
than a commercial enterprise – needs to follow this route of pushing
annual membership . It looks like Jackie skelly wants to get a long-term
commitment precisely because so many punters do not want to make a long
term commitment, either initially or once they see what they get for
their money. Other, genuine, health clubs allow you to leave without penalty whenever you want.

What’s the evidence for this being bad practice? Answer: the large
number of punters who have found themselves paying for membership that
did not realise they had signed up for. You can find dozens – now hundreds – of then
on various message boards (see below). A second answer is the large
amount of Jackie Skelly’s “Bad Debt”. A third is the aggressive
and wholly unreasonable attitude of Jackie Skelly’s management team.

Jackie Skelly also has a very bad reputation for mysteriously losing any notification that you want to terminate your contract even after 12 months. If you call in person, telephone, e-mail, fax or write then all record of your communication is likely to be lost and they will claim never to have received it. Any verbal assurances they give are utterly worthless – we have dozens of examples of blatant lies. Any communication should therefore be made by recorded delivery letter – that way they cannot argue that they did not receive it.

According to the small print in the “membership contract form”
you will be committed to pay up every month even if you were to move
abroad, lose your job, have all of your limbs mangled in an accident
or fall into a permanent vegetative state. In extreme circumstances
you might be able to “suspend” your membership for up to three months
with a doctor’s certificate and a medical interrogation by one of their debt collectors – and that is just to delay your payments. There are no circumstances
in which you can cancel your membership within the first 12 month period or with immediate effect after the 12 month period.

If you do not cancel your “annual contract” after 10 months
[sic] then it will just keep running, and money will keep disappearing
from your bank account after you tell them in the twelfth month that
you do not wish to renew.

 

Am I Bound by my One-Year Contract ?

No liability accepted for following this
advice. (Any experience from others much appreciated – especially actual
legal precedents – contact details below).

Obviously, your best option is to read any contract carefully before signing – resist the sales person’s blandishments that you can read them later at leisure after you sign. If you want to vary the conditions in any way – eg to be able to cancel on request – then add that new condition to the document in writing and get a copy.

if you have already signed, then the following is the best
advice we can currently give.

You have every right to terminate the contract if Skellyweg’s fail to fulfill their part of the agreement. Failing to provide a safe or clean environment will do – and many customers say that Skellyweg premises fail on both counts. If you want to terminate do not use the club. Write a letter to Jackie Skelly Fitness at the
company’s registered address, saying that you do not accept that a
contract exists (if one ever did) and that if they think that one does exist then they
need to be aware that you have rescinded any such contract because of a major breach of contract on their part. Use registered
mail for this and keep your proof of delivery.

The legal position in Ireland is a little bit hazy, but basically the
same as other Common Law jurisdictions.

If you have never used the Club then you can argue that no consideration
has passed, so on a quantum
meruit
basis you have nothing to pay. (Basically you are liable
for the “services” you have “consumed” but not for
any further services). The court may well require Skellywegs to repay money
already paid to them for periods when you have not used their facilities.

In principal, the legal remedies for breach of contract are
specific performance
or damages.
Specific performance means you have to stick to the contract. The courts are very unlikely to require specific performance for a contract of this type, especially since there is now plenty of evidence that Jackie Skelly Fitness are little more than professional thieves. Despite
what Jackie Skelly Fitness staff might try to tell you damages are not
likely to be significant for contracts of this type. Courts may well
take the view that you have no further liability – and you might well recover money’s paid since you gave notice of termination relying on a principle
of quantum meruit.

If you were
tricked into signing in the first place then the so-called contract was void all along –
but you will need a solicitor to pursue this line and recover the money
already paid. There is another interesting question is that the legal
entity that is purportedly making a contract with you is not identified
in the standard documentation

As far as we can tell, Jackie Skelly have never sued for breach of
contract, which suggests that they are well aware of the weakness of
their legal position. In fact they are seem to very keen to avoid the courts, presumably because they do not want their business practices – ranging from the dubious to the scandallous – to be exposed in open court.

As far as we can tell, Jackie Skelly have never sued for breach of contract, which suggests that they are well aware of the weakness of their legal position.

In fact they are seem to very keen to avoid the courts, presumably because they do not want their business practices – ranging from the dubious to the scandallous – to be exposed in open court.

Apparently no amount of goading will push them into having their unethical business practices discussed in open court.

What Else can I do?

Write to the Directors of Jackie Skelly telling them what you think
of their sales techniques and asking them to protect future customers
by stopping their dubious sales practices. You can find their names
and addresses here

Write to your local newspaper – taking care to stay factual and avoiding
any temptation to exaggerate or say anything potentially libellous.
The editor might welcome a scoop like this, so help him or her by making
your story interesting and pointing out that yours is not an isolated
case. If local papers pick it up, try a national newspaper too.

Complain about unlawful activities. It is important that you do this, because the only way to stop the Skellywegs in their clever scam is to establish such a body of evidence that when they eventually find themselves in court, as they surely will, the directors cannot plausibly claim that they did not know what was going on. Complain to as many of these bodies as appropriate:

  • Fraud (including unauthorised use of your credit or debit card) – go to the garda. Also complain to Jackie Skelly’s bankers.
  • Other torts, illegality, & breach of contract. Go to your solicitor.
  • General nastiness & abominable service. complain to the National Consumer Agency. Click on this external link
  • Breaches of health and safety regulations. Complain to the Health and Safety Authority. Click on this external link
  • Personal Data. If you are fed up with being bombarded with JS sales rubbish including texts and phone calls. Inform JS in writing that you want them to stop. send your request by recorded delivery to their registered office. Check your rights here. Then complain to the Data Protection Commissioner each time they ignore your request. Click on this external link

Let us know of your experiences by e-mail:
(just indicate if you want to use your
real name or remain anonymous). If you have any threatening letters
from debt collectors or solicitors we’ll be happy to publish them too.

If you are a victim and especially if you want to do something to publicise how monstrous Skellyweg’s treatment of their customers is, then again e-mail us.

Let other people know about this website – if you have your own website
add a link to this one incorporating the words “Jackie Skelly Membership” and “Complaint” into the title, keywords, heading and content. Feel free to copy this whole site and (especially if it mysteriously disappears again) to post it to a new domain.

Print off this
linked gif file
, cut along the dotted lines, and pin up copies on
public notice boards or wherever – perhaps inside the Club you’ve been
paying for unwillingly!

 

External Link
MyClaim -compensation claims – click here
MyClaim works on a No Win, No Fee basis so what have you got to lose?

 

More about other victims of Jackie Skelly

A page full of blogs, newspaper reports and other relevant sources with complaints about Jacky Skelly

A page full of e-mails with with complaints about Jacky Skelly

Irish Times Pricewatch, 23 October 2008 – Taking Issue with Jackie Skelly, by Conor Pope. or our highlighted copy here .

The Irish Mail on Sunday 23 August 2009 – How Jackie Skelly gyms put the cash squeeze on customer – double page spread

 

Latest News on Jackie Skelly


October 2009. The Sunday Mail has run yet another exposé of the Skelly criminals – but their conservative legal department advised against anything hard hitting. Still, getting the usual response from the Skellywegs “we didn’t know this was happening. Thanks for drawing to our attention to it” is worthwhile because when they finally end up in court they will not be able to use this a defense or in mitigation – having publicly acknowledged their illegal and immoral activities over 20 times now.


7 June 2009 . The Skellywegs have huge mortgages and an ever diminishing customer base. How much longer can they continue in business? It is a criminal offence for Directors to trade while technically insolvent (ie unable to meet their debts as they fall due). Anyone know whether it’s weeks or months? Or are they already committing a criminal offence?


29 April 2009 . Great news! A victory for a Skellyweg victim in the small claims court. Read about it here. And here’s the claim, and here’s the cheque. Take heart – you can beat them too.


18 December 2008. Jonathan Guthrie in the Financial Times (p13) predicts a grim time for health clubs in 2009: “With disposable incomes shrinking, far fewer would-be gym bunnies will sign those vital direct debit mandates”. Can Jackie Skelly’s with its overvalued properties, huge debt and shrinking membership survive 2009?


14 December 2008. 9:35 pm. “Prime Time Investigates” on RTE television reports on the cynical abuses by Jackie Skelly Fitness, including how their training manual encourages sales staff to manipulate their potential customers’ weakness – or as the manual puts it “push their fat button”.


8 December 2008. More interesting revelations from the inside of Jackie Skelly about the way the scam works. See e-mail.


1 December 2008. If you are prepared to talk publicly about your experiences with Jackie Skelly please e-mail the webmaster immediately.


October 2008. A victory for JackieSkellyMembership.com. The National Consumer Agency has found that Jackie Skelly to be breaching multiple requirements of the European Communities (Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts), Regulations, 1995. Specifically

  1. Exclusion of liability for death or injury to customers
  2. Ambiguity in respect of cancellation of contract
  3. Ambiguity relating to the length of short-term contracts
  4. Lack of clarity in relation to length of the contract – rollover aspects not made clear
  5. Practices connected with debt collection

The Skellywegs have now revised their so called contract to make it less of a joke if it ever got cited in court. Some of the unenforceable terms have been rewritten. See this page for details of the NCA findings


23 October 2008. Irish Times Pricewatch – Taking Issue with Jackie Skelly, 2008 by Conor Pope. Read it here or our copy here .

 


September 2008. Insider Information exclusive to JackieSkellyMembership Confirmation of yet more shady dealings by Jackie Skelly

  • Sales staff given high targets and encouraged to mislead potential customers
  • Illegal abuse of customers’ credit and debit cards
  • honest debt-collection staff sacked on false pretences
  • JS policy of ignoring complaints about illegally extracted money until a solicitor’s letter is received – so no action on the overwhelming majority of complaints dewa poker.
  • JS threats of Debt Collection Agency revealed as a bluff
  • Over 100% differential pricing
  • Questionable “Administration fees” for transfers of membership
  • Illegal retention of Customer details including financial details + staff abuse of this information

 


Jackie Skelly have become even more devious in removing money from unwilling customers. We already knew that they will continuing taking money from customers by direct debit and by using customers’ credit card details even after being informed them that no contract exists. It now seems that they have some way of extracting money from customers’ Laser Card even without customers’ permission. Several customers have complained that money has been extracted through their Laser Cards even though they have not authorised these payments or disclosed their PIN numbers.

Our advice is never give them your Laser card details in any circumstances. Cancel any credit cards of which they have details. Likewise Direct Debits. They really are a bunch of disgusting leeches and will suck your blood in any way they can.

Does anyone know how it is possible to extract money from a Laser card without the PIN number? And whatever the answer, is it legal?


A number of people have started proceedings against Jackie Skelly in the Small Claims Court. Great idea. More people should do this. Please let us know if you initiate proceedings.


A correspondent has suggested a coordinated effort at ringing the Joe Duffy/Gerry Ryan shows with horror stories about Skellywegs. Please let us know if you would be willing to call in and we’ll organise a date poker online.


You can apply for a job as Jackie Skelly’s Debt Collector & Club Administrator.

No kidding – slick on the link links below to the adds. Interesting that Debt Collection is the first and most important qualification to be a Club Administrator.

Swords

Dublin 12

Drogheda

If these jobs have already gone, just do a Google Search with the four words Jackie Skelly Debt Collector for a whole lot more!

Note this interesting line on Jackie Skelly’s own recruitment page for sales consultants with commissions based on sales (see http://www.jackieskellyfitness.com/recruitment.asp)

“Excellent opportunity to write your own paycheck!”