Canceling a gym membership

Canceling gym memberships as well as many other contracts in Germany can be rather tricky. Many contracts consist of clauses that state that a resignation needs to be transmitted via mail at least three months prior to the desired termination date of the contract. If such resignation is not sent at least three months before, contracts will be extended by as much as 2 or even 24 months. This can turn into a very costly affair if the service isn’t needed any longer. Gym memberships tend to have clauses such as the one described. In addition to this, most gyms will offer significantly lower rates for those people who sign up for 24 months in comparison to 6 or 2 months. A pay per month option is generally not offered by most of the gyms or is relatively expensive.

Some places even follow the criminal strategy to claim that they have not received a resignation letter and extend the contract anyway. In order to be protected against such fraud it is important to keep copies and records of sent resignation letters. The safest is usually sending an e-mail since the e-mail provider keeps records with time stamps of any outgoing e-mails. Save the e-mail as soon as it is sent in order to make sure that the automatic deletion after a certain time does not go into effect. Many companies, however, will not allow for resignation letters to be e-mails.  In this case it is smartest to deliver the letter personally and to demand a receipt for said letter. If that is not possible, for example due to a great distance between one’s location and the mailing address of a company, make sure to send the letter as an “Einschreiben”. It costs a little more in shipping but the person on the receiving end has to sign for it, therefore technically handing out a receipt for the resignation letter.

Just in the recent past a law has been passed concerning gym memberships. This one is especially concerning for those planning on leaving Germany or relocating within Germany. Prior to this law people who moved but still had a contract with a gym were supposed to pay the membership fee until the end of the contract, despite having left the area with no way to use any services of the gym. Now it is possible to cancel existing gym memberships solely based on the fact that one is moving away, regardless of the time left on the contract. 

Like with all contracts, know what you are signing before you sign. Schedule a date to check out the gym, ensuring that the facility hosts the necessary equipment for your work out regime. As a form of promotion, gyms often offer a trial period, where there may be a reduced cost, or no cost at all. If you are required to sign a contract during this time, ensure that you are aware of any clauses stating that the contract will automatically prolonged if you haven’t contacted the gym to cancel. 


Saskia Petz

Tanja Traut

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