Jackie Skelly Fitness: The so-called “Contract”

Below are extracts from a version of the document that Skellywegs try to pass off as a contract. Some interesting points about it are:

  • All these terms are written in tiny print on the back of the form you are are asked to sign. Most victims either do not notice this text or, if they do, they are dissuaded by the Skellyweg sales person from reading it.
  • The author is at best semi-literate. It looks as though a real contract (from somewhere else?) has been expanded by someone unfamiliar with both the English language and the Irish law. The parties to the supposed contract are not identified, and the language switches between first, second and third person: I, you, the member, members, the club, we, the company … none of whom are defined.
  • This is a very one-sided document. It is all about the Skellywegs rights and your duties (very little about Skellyweg’s duties or your rights). Some of these terms are blatant attempts to avoid legal obligations that cannot in truth be avoided by contract under Irish Law.

 

“Contract” extract
Comment
Membership deposits and membership fees are non refundable under any circumstances So no money back if you have to move abroad. No money back if you cannot afford to pay because of bankrupcy or because you lost your job. No money back if you are “expelled” for no reason. No money back if you leave the club because of justifiable Health and Safety concerns. No money back if you cannot use the club because of illness, disability or death. If you become a quadraplegic, a carrier of typhoid or if you fall into a long-term coma, or break your back on their faulty equipment, or drown in their pool they will still take your money off you (and they will continue to do so indefinitely – see below)
Direct Debit fees will automatically increase on an annual basis; the amount of this increase will may [sic] be variable and relative to membership category and will be applied on the date that the company decides. Notification will be posted in the club up to four weeks prior to increase; the company will not contact members directly.

The increase is automatic, but you don’t know how much it is. It could be 10%, 100% or 1000%. You don’t know when the Skellywegs are going to apply the hike. Then can do it whenever they want!. All the Skellywegs need to do to comply with their obligation is post a notice the size of a postage stamp in the least used room in the building, two minutes before applying the increase, then take your money, then take the notice down again.

(notice that Sometimes the document refers to an un-named company and sometimes to an unnamed club).

Members can apply and be considered for a Temporary Suspension of their membership contract for a maximum of 3 consecutive months at any one time for the following reasons: A Serious Medical condition SUPPORTED by a Doctors certificate to confirm the member’s inability to use the facilities.

Note that we’re talking here about suspension for no more than three months. You will still pay the same in total. You can apply but there is no guarantee that a Temporary Suspension will be granted, even with the required certificate. If you have a infectious or contagious disease which is not serious enough to obtain a doctor’s certificate then you can’t use the facilities (under another part of the contract)  – but you don’t qualify for Temporary Suspension

Work related travel SUPPORTED by an Employers [sic] letter of confirmation. An administration Fee is payable on making the request. During the suspended period the members [sic] normal monthly Direct Debit (contracted amount) will continue to be paid / taken from the member’s bank account, as any temporary suspended period does not contribute to the initial minimum contracted period. Therefore, the number of months placed on Temporary Suspension will be added onto the end of the initial minimum contracted membership period accordingly.

Bad luck if you’re self employed.

The fee is payable on making the request – bad luck if the request is turned down for no reason.

The amount of the fee is not specified. It could be a million Euros

The last sentence could bear any one of several different interpretations – but the gist is probably that you can never pay for less than 12 months.

In the reconstruction of club premises, every effort will be made by the Management to eliminate any diminution of the club services. Membership will not be suspended and member’s cooperation in this instance will be assumed. It’s anybody’s guess what this means – our best guess is that you keep paying even if the facilities are unusable.
A member who is expelled, forfeits all the privileges of membership and we reserve the right to retain money which has been paid to us.

Who is “us”? Is it the “Club”? “the Company”? the Management? The illiterate half-wit who wrote this pretend contract and his mum? By the way, there is no limit on who can be expelled. You can be “expelled” for complaining about the facilities or for no reason at all – ten minutes after you join – and you still keep paying for at least a year.

Any member who terminates their membership and subsequently wishes to rejoin is subject to the prevailing fees. No mention of what these fees are. Another million Euros?
 

Membership

The membership term is for an “initial minimum membership period” of 12 months, during this period membership is non cancelable and non refundable. Following the ‘initial minimum membership period’ membership shall automatically continue, should a member wish to terminate their contract after the ‘initial minimum membership period’ they must fill in a cancellation request form and a minimum of 60 days notice and 2 monthly direct debit payments are required.

This is the only part of the contract that looks like it was written by a lawyer.

Coincidentally it is the the most iniquitous term, purportedly providing a legal basis for the two key elements of Skellyweg’s rip-off scam.

Members who cannot commit to a 12 month contract may avail of the non-contract option with a minimum membership period of 3 months and whereby [sic] a higher monthly fee will be charged either in advance or by Direct Debit. Upon expiration of this initial membership period, the member must fill in a cancellation request form and a minimum of 30 days written notice and 1 further monthly direct debit payment will be required. The member must follow the Terms & Conditions relating to the cancellation of the membership.

If you don’t fall for the big scam, you can opt for a similar smaller scam.

Why is this a “non-contract” option? If the 12 month minimum period arrangement is a contract then this is too – it’s part of the same supposedly contractual document!

In the event of default of payment we reserve the right to re-apply for the outstanding amount from your bank account or credit card on any day throughout the month. An additional 3 Euro fee per failed payment will be charged. Payment of monthly direct debits are due regardless of usage.

Another switch this time to “we” and an implicit “you” – neither of them defined.

If you try to stop the Skellywegs taking your money, they will continue taking it anyway from any account they have the details of. And they’ll charge you for the privilege!

Upon postage of a cancellation request, if an acknowledgement of the request is not received within 10 days from the club it is the member’s responsibility to contact the club to confirm receipt and action of this request. In practice such an acknowledgement is rarely (perhaps never) sent – allowing the Skellywegs to scam another month or two’s fees from unwilling victims.
….
Limitation of Liability
I will use the facilities of the club entirely at my own risk and the said club shall have no liability whatsoever, whether in tort or contract, for any loss, injury or damage however sustained by me. I accept full responsibility for my own use of any and all of the facilities, appliances, privilege or service whatsoever at my own risk and indemnify and hold harmless the club, it’s [sic] shareholders and directors, board of management, officers, employees, representatives, agents or lessors from all loss, claim, injury, damage or liability sustained or incurred by me or my property, howsoever ca used …

A sudden switch to the first person.

This is a shameless and unenforceable term attempting to relieve the Skellywegs of all liability.

If this were enforceable Skellywegs would have no duty of care – they could leave children unsupervised in a swimming pool full of sewage and negligently kill people by the dozen every week with faulty equipment in the gym.

In fact they do have a duty of care which under Irish Law they cannot avoid.

 

General

In the event of an unsigned contract it is assumed that the member accepts the Terms and Conditions of membership.

This illiterate drivel appears to be designed to allow you to become a victim of the Skellyweg scam even if you don’t sign any so-called contract.