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  1. #1
    Niahmas is offline Junior Member
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    Aug 2008
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    Martial Arts Gym Contract

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? California

    I've seen this same type of topic before regarding these contracts, however, I want to know what kind of legal obligation I have for paying this contract considering my state (CA), medical condition, and the nature of the contract itself.

    The particular contract is for a martial arts studio for the amount of $179.00 a month for a term of two years. The only options that the contract outlines for cancellation is either moving 25 miles from an affiliated area or "permanent disability." Now, while the gym itself is based in Southern California, the billing company (ASF) is based in Colorado. Now, will this make a difference when taking consumer protection laws into account? Or are they bound to the consumer protection laws of the state that the gym is in? I assume this would make a difference because I'm sure that the consumer protection laws are different for CO than CA. The California Department of Consumer Affairs states that, with relationship to Health Studio Services, a contract must meet the following criteria (I have edited out the parts unimportant to my situation):

    Taken from the California Department of Consumer Affairs website([url]http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/legal_guides/w-10.shtml[/url]),
    California's Health Studio Services Contract Law applies to all contracts for health studio services in California.

    Health studio services include instruction, training or assistance in physical culture, body building, exercising, reducing, figure development and other similar skills; the use of a health studio, gym or other facility for any of these purposes; and membership in any group formed for any of these purposes. However, services provided by persons licensed in the healing arts, by nutritionists, and by schools operating under the California Education Code, are not subject to this law.

    All health studio contracts must be in writing. The contract may not require payments that total more than $3,000 not including finance charges (this amount increases to $4,400 on January 1, 2010) over the contract term. The duration of the contract may not exceed three years...{etc.}...

    The contract must include the name and address of the company that provides the health studio services, and the date on which you sign the contract. A copy of the contract must be given to you when you sign it.

    ...{Information referring to an unopened gym}...

    The contract must contain a provision that gives you a five-day right to cancel the contract. The face of the contract must conspicuously disclose the following notice, in a size equal to at least 10-point bold type, close to the place for your signature:

    ...{Example for the 5 day cancellation process}...

    The contract must say what facilities and services the contract entitles you to access and receive and must say at what days and hours you may access the facilities. Any facilities, services or times of access that are not described in the contract are optional services and are considered to be separate contracts...{etc.}...

    The contract must allow you or your estate to cancel if you become disabled or die, and also if you move more than 25 miles from the facility...{etc.}

    In order to cancel on the basis of disability, the disability must be of a kind that somehow affects your capacity to use or enjoy the club's facilities. A physician must verify the condition. In the event of your death... {etc.}

    You also may cancel the contract if you move more than 25 miles from the health studio and are unable to transfer the contract to a comparable facility...{etc.}...

    If a contract does not comply with the Health Studio Services Contract Law, it is void and unenforceable, and therefore subject to cancellation by you on that basis. In the event of a significant violation of the law, there is no limit on the time for canceling, except that you probably must notify the health club promptly on learning of your right to cancel, and ordinarily you should give the health club written notice of the decision to cancel.

    A health studio services contract also is void and unenforceable, and may be canceled by you on this basis, if you are induced to sign the contract by any willfully false or misleading information, representation or advertising by the health club. For instance, if the health club knows or has reason to believe that a significant portion of the services or facilities will not be provided or available for use as promised, or if the health club misrepresents anything else that is important to you, that may entitle you to cancel the contract. If you decide to cancel on the basis of the health club's misconduct, you should give written notice of cancellation promptly after you learn of your right to cancel. The notice should describe the willfully false or misleading information.

    If you are injured by the health club's failure to comply...{etc.}...

    This law does not relieve the health club of the duty to comply with other laws that may apply (for instance, the Unruh Retail Installment Sales Act, if by signing the contract, you incur a legal obligation to pay by installments).

    Any purported waiver by you of any rights conferred by this law is void and unenforceable. That means that the requirements of the statute always apply.
    So, with that all being said, there are some interesting points I'd like to point out regarding this contract that may mean that the contract is void and unenforceable. Of course, I'm not a lawyer, but I can only assume that I am correct in my reasoning. However, I wanted to check here first to see if I was in error before I tell the billing company to get lost. Here are what I see as the important points about this contract that seem to keep it from being legitimate:

    1. The totals over the contract term for my particular contract total $4,296.00, which is over the $3,000.00 amount in effect now.

    2. A copy of the contract was not given to me when I signed it. A minor point, since I requested a copy later and have since received it.

    3. The contract does not contain a 5-day right to cancel.

    4. The contract does not state what facilities & services the contract entitles me to or the times that I can access the facilities. Again, another minor point.

    5. The contract states I can only cancel if I have incurred a "Permanent Disability" but this seems incorrect. I have sent the billing company a copy of a letter I had my physician draw up for me, on letterhead, which states that I have been diagnosed with Plantar Fascitis, while it may not be permanent, as I am undergoing treatment for the condition currently, how can I still be obligated to pay while suffering from a condition that sometimes makes it difficult for me to even stand, let alone do strenuous activity such as what is required for martial arts? This condition definitely affects my capacity to use or enjoy the club's facilities, even though it is not a "permanent disability." The treatment for this, as my doctor can verify, could continue for years after the contract end date (February of 2010), and while it is possible that I could be on the road to recovery in a matter of months (possibly) my physician's recommendation was that I cease any activity of this sort until all medical conditions are under control or stabilized. So, should I still be required to pay considering this point alone?

    6. At the time I signed the contract, I was explicitly told that I could cancel the contract at any time, although I did not see this in the contract, I didn't think it would be a problem as they did not tell me at the time that they went through a 3rd party billing company. When I tried to cancel through them, they directed me to the billing company, which has been less than helpful. Would this apply to the clause regarding being "induced to sign the contract by any willfully false or misleading information?"

    Now, as I have said before, some of these points are minor, but at this point, since they've refused me cancellation, I am looking to find any legal means to keep me from having to pay on this contract any more. Other important points to remember when considering my case are the following:
    - This is not a typical "gym" but a martial arts studio. I am not sure if this makes a difference or not, since it seems to fall under the criteria listed above as a "Health studio services include instruction, training or assistance in physical culture, body building, exercising, reducing, figure development and other similar skills; the use of a health studio, gym or other facility for any of these purposes; and membership in any group formed for any of these purposes."
    - The billing company is based in Colorado, and the gym is in Southern California, where I live. I assume that since the contract was for a California facility and signed in California that the California laws should apply to the contract, instead of Colorado consumer protection laws. Perhaps I am mistaken about this though.

    Any advice on the matter is greatly appreciated. I hope I didn't overlook anything and I hope that I'm right about this, but feel free to tell me why I'm wrong if I am. I don't want to get into a legal battle with the ASF Billing and I don't want to be taken to collections, but I feel like they're trying to sucker me here and I want to be sure I'm right before I tell them to sit and spin.
  2. #2
    tranquility is offline Senior Member
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    Your contract is your contract. Just because you can come up with other reasons why you don't want to fulfull you part does not make the contract void.

    Most consumer protections should have been dealt with long ago.

    While I didn't read your post in exquisite detail, I'm thinking you have a problem--actually, a contract.
  3. #3
    Niahmas is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by tranquility View Post
    Your contract is your contract. Just because you can come up with other reasons why you don't want to fulfull you part does not make the contract void.

    Most consumer protections should have been dealt with long ago.

    While I didn't read your post in exquisite detail, I'm thinking you have a problem--actually, a contract.
    How can a contract be binding when consumer protection laws are in place to protect the consumer for these very problems? How can it be lawful if it doesn't follow the law itself? I can't understand that, could you possibly be more clear as to why the contract would still be binding if it's not a legitimate contract in the first place? Doesn't it have to follow the rules? Isn't that what the rules are for in the first place?

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