IdiotFilter: Please help me escape Bally's agreement within the three-day "consumer's right to cancel" window
April 16, 2010 10:07 AM   Subscribe

IdiotFilter: How best to cancel my Bally's Total Fitness "Easy Monthly Payment Plan" within the three-day "consumer's right to cancellation" period? This is not necessarily a Bally's-specific question, and YANML.

Anonymous because I feel like an idiot. The issue here is I had a "month to month" plan with Bally's, but cluelessly allowed myself to be talked into a "reduced rate" which turned out to be their Easy Monthly Payment Plan, which can only be cancelled by death, disability, or moving more than 25 miles from a Bally's.

The original plan contained a 30-day cancellation right; this one does not. I want to get back on the original one, but for now, I want to cancel this new plan in the most effective way.

Cancellation rights in the contract include a "Consumer's Right to Cancellation. You may cancel this contract without any penalty or further obligation by causing a written notice of your cancellation to be delivered in person or postmarked by certified or registered United States mail within three business days of the date of this contract."

Since the contract was signed last night, a Thursday, I guess this is the second business day.

The contract further states "To cancel an Easy Monthly Payment Plan (EMPP) membership send written notice containing the canceling member's name by certified or registered mail ..."

I've also seen on forums that you should do "return receipt requested" at the post office, which makes sense.

OK, so I can easily do that. But what other things should I be doing here to avoid any plausible denials on their part that they received the request to cancel, that I am truly canceling, etc.? I'm worried about them putting me through a protracted process.

However, the irony is I would like to retain my original month-to-month agreement with them, which had the 30-day cancellation notice clause. This agreement is supposed now to have been cancelled and replaced by the new one. My suspicion is that it probably isn't a good idea to mention in my cancellation letter that I would sign up to a new version of the month-to-month plan, 30-day notice period, etc. While in a reasonable world you might think they would say OK, this guy is still going to pay some money to us, so let's honor the agreement and not mess him around, my paranoid side (which was uncharacteristically switched off yesterday) says that this will just complicate matters, help them associate the older account with the new one, reinstate it, and probably cause me to pay double ongoingly while I try to get out of the new agreement.

I've done a lot of googling and haven't seen a sober account of how to cancel under the three-days rule.

What do paranoid AskMe readers think? Should I be CC'ing my state (Massachusetts) consumer body NOW? Should I call Bally's and explain my full intentions? What might I be missing here? Thanks, and once again, I know YANML.
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (7 answers total)
Why don't you just call up the bally's and ASK THEM?
posted by Kololo at 10:15 AM on April 16, 2010

Kololo -- Because Bally's (and many other gyms) is notorious for capturing customers in this way.

Definitely do registered mail today. Make sure you get the receipt from the Post Office and that is clear what the day was that you sent it. Keep copies of any documents you send to them.

Show up on Monday with the receipt you have from the Post Office and copies of what you sent them.

Only if there is then further trouble do you need to worry further. My experience has been that if you do in fact have all the necessary documentation, they will grudgingly cancel. It's the small time windows and need for official proof etc that usually catches most people out, and that's what they rely on.
posted by modernnomad at 10:45 AM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

My experience with Ballys suggests that they are abusive of their customers and want to keep you trapped as long as possible. I would absolutely mail the evidence needed to cancel today via some sort of trackable/confirmable mail delivery method. I would not call them and explain, they will likely try to sucker you into something else or trick you into missing your opportunity to cancel. If you still want to do business with them after you've successfully cancelled, you can revisit them and try again. Somehow I think trying to get your original month-to-month arangement back might be a lost cause though.
posted by Vorteks at 11:04 AM on April 16, 2010

I faxed a letter, overnighted another copy, using a return receipt, and then dropped one off in person. It wasn't to Bally's, but it worked. You probably don't have to overnight it, I just did that out of paranoia so that not only was it postmarked before the 3 day window, but it arrived before then, too.

Calling and asking about it--definitely didn't help. They avoided me completely. From what I understand (in NY at least) it isn't the gym's policy, it's the law, and they would avoid it if they could, so don't rely on them for information.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:05 AM on April 16, 2010

Yeah, I'd photocopy everything that I wanted to send, also overnight it and keep the receipt, so that I could track it and they would be sure to receive it overnight. That way, that there would be absolutely no doubt that I'd canceled and that they found out in the three day period. That's how I did my Bally's membership cancellation, and I didn't get any troubel about it.

I mean, the way I look at it, it costs $15 to overnight something in the US. $15 is half a month at Bally's at their lowest rate. If they had the chance, they would drag it out far, far, far longer than half a month.
posted by joyceanmachine at 11:15 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I signed up with a fitness center, followed their procedures for canceling within the alloted time (including registered mail), and got my check back in the 4-6 weeks I was promised. There should be some cancellation form with the paperwork you got back. If not, this page on Bally's website states:
Each state has different rules about how to cancel a contract. Typically, you have 3 to 5 days after you sign the contract and you must send a letter stating that you wish to cancel. You should review your contract to see what rules apply in your state. If you have any questions about your contract, contact our Member Services organization.
The linked contact form is all-purpose, and includes a contact number: 1-866-40-BALLY. Another number, (found on Yahoo Answers) is 1-800-669-6785, as also found on this Ballys West page on Value Plans / Month-To-Month Plans.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:39 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

If all else fails, reporting your credit card lost/stolen will make the charges stop, while being perhaps technically fraudulent. Filing a dispute with your credit card company for any unauthorized charges would be another avenue to pursue. You might get a nasty letter or two in the mail from Bally's, but they don't have your SSN or anything, and if you don't actually try to use your unpaid membership, there's not really anything they can or will do.

So your worst case option really isn't that bad at all.
posted by zachlipton at 1:51 PM on April 16, 2010

« Older Baltimore shoes   |   Seeking beautiful indoor reading spaces in NYC and... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.