Will my unpaid gym membership prevent me from visiting Taiwan?
July 18, 2012 10:37 AM   Subscribe

Will I encounter trouble entering or exiting Taiwan based on my unpaid gym membership there? Also, will this affect my US credit in any way?

I lived in Taiwan for three months in summer 2009. At the time, I signed up for a gym membership which required a yearlong contract. As part of the terms of the contract, like many other ones, if I moved away, charging on the contract would be suspended for one year. (I shouldn't have signed up for this, but hindsight is 20/20.)

I returned to the US in fall 2009, called the gym, explained that I had moved away and suspended the membership. I then promptly forgot about it until a year later (fall 2010), when I noticed that the gym had started charging again. At this point, I decided to just let the year run out.

Then my credit card (which I had used to pay for the membership) expired in late fall 2009. I noticed the monthly gym charges were gone, but I didn't put two and two together until about half a year later when I realized the reason that they had stopped charging me was because my card had expired.

Since then, I haven't paid the remainder of the gym membership, or been back to Taiwan. My question now is:

- I am considering visiting Taiwan in spring 2013, on a visa-free entry for a tourist trip. Will I encounter trouble entering/exiting the country because of this unpaid debt?
- If I will, what is the best way to pay it? It is not a financial hardship to pay the remainder of the gym membership, but I am afraid I will get slapped with enormous fees if I do.
- Possibly relevant details: I live in the US and have a US passport. My US credit record is good. I have no desire or plans to permanently live in Taiwan. When I was there in summer 2009, I was on a 90-day visa; I have no household registration or ARC there.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total)
I would be extremely surprised if Taiwanese gyms tended to report unpaid memberships to immigration authorities.
posted by sawdustbear at 10:39 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Or that immigration authorities gave a rat's ass about your gym membership.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:59 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

You won't be stopped at the airport. It's wildly unlikely that the gym even sent your account to a collections agency; if they noticed that your card was declined, they probably realized that you were a foreign visitor and immediately wrote it off. In my experience in Asian countries, businesses tend to let rules slide a bit for foreigners because it's not worth the hassle. The amount owed would be far too low for a collections agency to pursue seriously.
posted by acidic at 11:03 AM on July 18, 2012

Sort of relevant: I got a gym membership when I was in England for a couple months several years ago. I was orally promised that I could cancel it when I moved out of the country, but when it came time to move, they refused to cancel it.

I closed the (UK) bank account that they were automatically deducting the monthly fee from (because I was moving out of the UK, not because of the fee, though I was glad they couldn't get it from me).

It has not affected my US credit.

I don't feel bad about it, because they shouldn't have lied to me about letting me cancel. Of course I should have had them promise in writing - but they still shouldn't have directly lied to me.

Sock-puppet because there's no need for me to go around telling the world that I might have unpaid debts.
posted by Why hello, I am a sock puppet at 11:36 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

You shouldn't have any difficulties. . .

I blew off the TV tax man in a foreign country in the early 1990's. I've been back to this country a few times since then without any difficulty at the border. I even obtained a long term visa for that country after the event.

Enjoy your trip to Taiwan.
posted by WestChester22 at 8:41 AM on July 19, 2012

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