What is my obligation to now pay if my fitness center failed to charge membership fees for about 10 months?

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What is my obligation to now pay if my fitness center failed to charge membership fees for about 10 months?

I have been a member of a local fitness center and at enrollment I gave them my bank details

for direct debit. They charged my account for a couple of months but stopped doing that after

that. Now, after almost 10 months, they realized their error and are asking me to pay for the pay months they did not charge my account. Do I still have to pay if they did not charge even if they had all details? What is my recourse if I do not wish to pay for their fault?

Asked on August 12, 2016 under Business Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you have to pay if you were a member during those months (e.g. had access to and the ability to use the gym), and especially if you did make use of the the facility. If you received access and the ability to use, and/or did in fact use, the fitness center, you have to pay for  it. There is nothing in the law stating that someone's failure to bill or charge someone at the time prevents them from billing or charging later. For example, if you are an hourly worker and forget to turn in a timesheet one week, your employer still needs to pay you--they don't get your labor for free because you forgot to "bill" them. Similarly, their failure to charge you earlier does not let you get the benefit of their services or facilities for free.
And to consider: how does this hurt you? If, say, the monthly fee if $50/month, then the cost for 6 months is $300...it's the same $300 if they charge it up front, or each month as it accrues, or at the end. Charging $300 later does not cost you a penny more than charging it month by month. (In fact, you arguably benefited, by being able to get "interest", such as it is nowadays, on your money in the bank.) 
If you do not pay, they can sue you and if they do, will win based on what you write.


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