What is a gym’s responsibility to honor an agreement that a customer has reached with one of its personal trainers?

I joined a gym in order to train with a certain personal trainer who was recommended by a friend. I paid the trainer $900 cash for 40 training sessions at the gym and he gave me a receipt for this transaction. Since then, he has been fired. I now want the gym to give me credit with another trainer. They are saying they can’t do this because he was a contracted employee so I have to contact him to get my money back. I did but he said that he spent the money already and he can’t give me a refund. Should the gym be responsible to provide me with another trainer?

Asked on November 14, 2014 under Business Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The issue is whom did you contract with? If there was a written contract for those 40 training sessions, who is the other party to it--the trainer or the gym? If there is no written contract, whom did you pay--the trainer directly, or the gym?

If you contracted with the trainer and/or paid him directly, then the trainer is the person responsible for refunding the unused portion of your training payment (i.e. he can keep anything he earned for lessons he actually gave you). If he won't pay voluntarily, you could sue him, such as in small claims court (acting as your own attorney to save on legal fees) for breach of contract.

If the 40-session training contract was with the gym and/or you paid the $900 to the gym, then the gym is most likely liable, and you could sue them if they won't pay. Just making the recommendation or making their space available to train does not, by itself, make them liable; you need them to have been the ones providing this training in order for them to be responsible.

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