Jackie Skelly Fitness: Unfair Contract Terms

In response to our campaign of exposing Jackie Skelly’s unfair contract terms, the National Consumer Agency investigated the Skellyweg’s and found their supposed contracts to breach the requirements of the European Communities (Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts), Regulations, 1995.  The following is a copy of the NCA website page:

Jackie Skelly Fitness contract

October 2008

Under the provisions of the European Communities (Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts), Regulations, 1995, terms in standard consumer contracts such as those in gym membership forms must be clear, unambiguous and not be unfairly weighted against consumers.

NCA main concerns with the membership agreement

  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

Revised terms and conditions – main changes

1. For clarity purposes each term is numbered and given a title/heading and cross- referenced where appropriate.

2. Separate terms and conditions are set out for each of the various options – short-term four-month contracts or minimum 12-month contracts. The conditions attaching to two different payment options, i.e. up front, or monthly easy pay, are identified separately.

3. The exclusion/exemption of the club’s liability for injury to customers or responsibility for damage or loss to personal property has been removed. This is replaced with conditions that require members to act responsibly, participate in, and act on the club’s fitness assessment tests and comply with the club’s rules relating to security issues and health and safety.

4. The term relating to collection of unpaid subscriptions by debt collectors has been replaced with terms that set out clearly that non-usage of facilities would not excuse members from paying their monthly fees. The new agreement provides that in the event of a failed payment the club would reapply to the member’s bank account or credit card. An additional charge would be involved. Every effort would be made by the club to notify the member in advance of this action – by phone or by post.

5. The ambiguities relating to cancellation clauses and rollover contracts have been removed.

a. In the case of a minimum four-month easy pay monthly contract a member should give notice in writing of cancellation at month three, otherwise the contract would continue until a month’s notice is given.

b. In the case of an upfront four-month contract, the contract expires at the end of four months unless renewed.

c. In the case of a minimum 12-month easy pay monthly contract a member must give two months’ notice in writing of cancellation i.e. at month 10 otherwise the contract will continue on an automatic monthly rolling basis until the two months notice is given.

d. In the case of a 12-month up front payment contract, this is non cancellable within the 12-month period. If not renewed by the specified renewal date the membership will lapse.

6. A new term is included in relation to consumers’ rights under the EU Distance Selling Regulations. This applies to members who join over the phone. Under the Distance Selling Regulations a seven-day cooling off period applies. These members will have access to the terms and conditions by visiting the club’s website.

7. Terms relating to temporary suspension or transfer of membership to a family member or friend are clarified.