A pensioner who claims that she was duped into signing a three-year gym contract will be held liable until she sells or transfers it to a third party.
Elizabeth Mokhine, 60, of Tsutsumani Location in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg, said she received a message from a Planet Fitness agent last March telling her that she had won a free massage.
But when she went to the gym for the freebie, she was cajoled into signing a contract, she said.
"I told Lebo I was sick and about to retire, but she encouraged me to join because the gym would boost my health," said Mokhine.
Believing that Lebo was a health expert, Mokhine signed the contract.
She said that she wanted to try it out for six months, but Lebo told her that they only offered a one- to three-year contract.
Mokhine signed a "one-year" contract and was told to collect a copy of the contract a week later.
"But a week later I discovered that Lebo had resigned and they could not locate my copy of the contract," said Mokhine.
She only went to the gym twice and had to stop for health reasons, Mokhine said.
"I was shocked when the club's manager told me at the end of March that I had signed a three-year contract.
"If they gave me the contract I would have verified the duration because I had already compromised when I signed the one-year term," said Mokhine.
Mokhine's daughter Rachel said she was told it was procedural for Planet Fitness to give clients their contract.
She said she spoke to Robert Vorstman, the manager, who had threatened her mother with legal action if she stopped paying.
Rachel has been depositing R250 into her mother's account to pay Planet Fitness since last July, she said.
"I strongly believe that Lebo deliberately misled my mother to earn a commission, now I have to feel the pinch," said Rachel.
Vorstman denied his club promised Mokhine a free massage or sold their contract in the way she had explained it.
"She won an R800 summer gift voucher, which she could redeem at any of our participating partnerships," Vorstman said.
Though the gym had not given Mokhine her contract, Vorstman insists that his company would have gladly given her a copy on demand.
"I did not threaten Mokhine, but merely explained to her daughter the legal implications that will occur if she does not pay her monthly fee. That is not a threat, it's reality.
"It is never a nice experience and that is why I tried to explain the blacklist situation to her daughter."
Vorstman said he suggested that they transfer the contract to someone else, free of charge.
"We even offered to change the contract to her daughter, but she was not interested.
"I will freeze Mokhine's contract for six months in order for her to advertise or transfer her contract to a third party.
Gauteng Consumer Protector, Gaki Pitso, said Mokhine should have been told of the cooling-off period at the time of signing the contract.
Pitso said it was unacceptable and unfair business practice for companies to withhold information at the core of contracts.
His office will consider taking up the matter.