The District Consumer Dispute Recovery Commission, Panchkula, has ordered a Panchkula-based gymnasium to refund membership fees to two brothers who were unable to use the gym’s facilities in 2020 due to the lockdown induced by the pandemic.
The gymnasium, Athelonics Hybrid Gym, Sector 11, Panchkula, was also asked to pay ₹5,000 to the plaintiff as compensation for harassment and litigation costs after he neither extended membership nor refunded fees for unused months.
A resident of the city, Gaurav Garg told the forum that his two sons, Rahul Garg and Aryan Garg, had paid ₹14,000 each at the gym for a 14-month membership in June 2019 and March 2020, respectively. The gym did not provide any receipts despite regular reminders.
Meanwhile, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a lockdown was imposed on Panchkula in March 2020 and the restrictions were not eased until August 2020 when the gym finally reopened.
He alleged that even though his sons could not use the gym services due to the lockdown, the gym owner informed them that Rahul’s membership expired in August 2020 and Aryan’s would end in May 2021 as expected earlier. When the family asked for an extension or a refund, they were denied.
No one appeared on behalf of the gymnasium, so they were prosecuted ex parte.
The commission observed that gym owners were under an obligation to provide services to both members during the unused months. But they neither provided the services nor refunded their balance, which amounted to a deficiency in services and an unfair business practice.
Therefore, the commission ordered the gymnasium to reimburse ₹18,000, with interest @ 9% per annum, to the plaintiff, in addition ₹5,000 as compensation.