The Fine Print

The Fine Print

In an effort to save some much needed money, my wife decided to cancel her gym membership. The timing was right; the membership was for eighteen months, which ended at the beginning of September. We assumed that it would simply expire. Just to be sure, my wife asked me to check the Mastercard statement online to make sure that no more payments were coming out.

Payments were still coming out.

I got out the contract and noticed a clause we had overlooked. It said that the membership would not expire unless we contacted the gym (which, for the sake of this discussion, I shall simply refer to as BODY BOOMERS).

Fine. We phoned the gym (BODY BOOMERS, in case you were wondering) and they said that we had to stop by and tell them in person. My wife was annoyed, but she agreed. So later that afternoon we stopped by to tell them in person. I waited in the car with the kids while she went into the gym (which, as you might recall, I’ve decided for the purposes of this discussion simply to refer to as BODY BOOMERS.)

About two minutes later my normally quite reasonable wife came storming back to the car in what I believe is technically referred to as an “apoplectic fit.” “You deal with them,” she said, presumably to me as opposed to one of the kids.

So I went in to deal with them. Thinking, we’re gonna get this sorted out right away, and not give a cent more to this… this BODY BOOMERS than we have to. A woman was at the counter talking to this big, hairy looking character, both of them sporting name tags, and they didn’t look especially unfriendly, so I launched right in. “Look, I just want to get this settled right away, what do we have to do, is there some kind a form to fill out? ‘Cause we’d like to sign it right now.”

The woman said, quite reasonably, “There’s no form for your wife to fill out right now. First she has to provide us with two months notice, then she has to make an appointment, then she has to come in, swallow a live wildebeest whole with the entire club looking on, and then, if she’s lucky, and we’re in a really really really good mood, then maybe, MAYBE we’ll stop charging your Mastercard our ridiculously overpriced fees.” (WARNING: the preceding dialogue may have contained some slightly fabricated elements.)

Could YOU swallow one of these whole? Well, could you?

Could YOU swallow one of these whole? Well, could you?

“Look,” I said, in my best Clint Eastwood, which on a good day sounds rather more like a really good Don Knott: “Just give me the damn form.”

“Hey, don’t get upset at us, pal,” the hairy guy said, quite reasonably. “We’re just employees here. And anyway, the whole wildebeest thing is right here in the contract, plain as day.”

“Where?” I asked.

He got out a super duper high falutin’ electron microscope thingie and we took a really good look at the contract. And right there, sure enough, in a perfectly legible font really quite a bit larger than several subatomic particles put together, I spied the offensive clause. No doubt about it, my wife and I were sunk.

“That’s… open to interpretation,” I huffed, and stormed out.

“What if they get collection agencies after us? It could get really nasty,” my wife told me later, after I informed her of my nefarious plan just to cancel the Mastercard and let the chips fall where they may.

“Hmm,” I said, after which I informed her of my revised plan, which consisted mainly of her giving BODY BOOMERS several months notice, making appointments with BODY BOOMERS representatives, and quite possibly swallowing whole a certain kind of antelope hailing from the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem of Tanzania (sometimes known as a “gnu”).

Moral of the story: I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, except to say that it involves fine print and gnus (sometimes known as “Wildebeests”).