I am never, ever joining Fitness First.
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Fitness First wins legal stoush over 'sick' woman's contract
Fitness First ... a runaway success, except with people trying to leave.
August 7, 2008 - 4:07PM
From the Sydney Morning Herald website.
Gym giant Fitness First has taken a former member, who could not work out due to medical problems, to court - all for the sake of $200.
The Supreme Court today ruled that Suh Yoke Chong, who suffers from lupus, thyroid problems and sleep apnoea should not be refunded a $200 cancellation fee after she was unable to continue her membership due to blurred vision and headaches.
Ms Chong, 54, who signed a contract with Fitness First on April 9, 2007, after she had put on weight due to steroid medication she was taking, took her case to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal.
She told the tribunal that, during her conversation with the Fitness First consultant, he gave her the terms and conditions and told her to "sign here, here and here".
"The reason I told him [about my medical condition] is that I hope that he will be honest with me, that whether my condition can do the gym and he told me that, 'Oh, you find the right place, this is the best place to lose weight.' "
Ms Chong signed the contract without reading the terms and conditions, which state that a cancellation fee of $200 applies if membership is terminated within the first two months and after a 15-day cooling-off period.
The tribunal ruled in September last year that Ms Chong be reimbursed that money.
It found that "a valid contract required the parties have [a] ... meeting of the minds, in that they each fully know and understand the terms and conditions of the agreement."
However, Associate Justice Joanne Harrison today found that the tribunal member erred in the law on that point and that Ms Chong was bound by the conditions of the contract. She made no order as to costs.
Comment is being sought from Fitness First.
Ms Chong said she told Fitness First about her condition before signing her contract but the gym only encouraged her to join.
After a month, as her dizziness worsened and her vision blurred, she reported the problem to staff. She said they were not interested.
"I told them but they said you should go for a massage to relax your body," she said.
"My intention when I joined the gym is to improve my health but it made me more stressed."
Ms Chong was shocked last July when she received a summons to the Supreme Court, with her as defendant, the gym as plaintiff.
She entered no defence, advised by legal aid that costs could be awarded against against her if she did so.
"I don't want to remember anything more about Fitness First. It's very, very stressful for the whole year," she said.
Since joining Fitness First in April last year, a membership that lasted about five weeks, Ms Chong has spent 15 months in and out of court and tribunal rooms.
She said she would pursue the case no further and had thought it was over after her tribunal hearing in September.
- with Erik Jensen
Is it just me, or is that crazy talk?