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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 118286
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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My wife and I signed an application/agreement for a one month

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My wife and I signed an application/agreement for a one month trial membership at a club which did not require an initiation deposit. The Membership terminated following expiration of the preview period. We stayed with the club on a wait list for another 2 months at which time my Corporation applied for a membership which was granted. The Club requires an application to evidence membership (and also to hold the Corporate deposit for 30 years, and to tie the member to the bylaws) but they failed to have the Corporation submit the typical application. Instead the Club requested I sign (as President) an application that did not have any reference to a deposit or the bylaws. The deposit document was a Promissory Note for extended payment over two years , signed by me as President but with no reference to the bylaws and no restrictions on return of the deposit. Several years later, I resigned the Corporate membership and requested the deposit back. The Club sent me a copy of the trial membership application where they inserted Corporate deposit amounts, wrote in Corp. next to the membership category, changed the membership number by lining out the old individual number and writing in the corporate membership number. They also wrote in "upon availability" next to the clause on return of the Corporate members deposit. I had no knowledge of this and of course did not initial or re-sign the document. They then referenced this document as the Corporate member's application/agreement to refuse the refund for 30 years.

What points would you make in arguing for the return of the deposit?
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

In order to have a valid contract in MA, there must be a mutual agreement on the object of the contract and the cost and the terms. Absent such mutual agreement there is no contract. When a party signs a written contract, that contract is enforced as written and any alterations must be initialed by BOTH parties, not just one party to make those changes valid.

What has happened here is the changes they made invalidated the contract as you did not initial the changes to your personal application and you did not have these terms in your corporate application. Thus, the changes they made were invalid. This is also an unfair and deceptive business practice as defined in MA Gen. Laws Section 93A which could entitle you to treble damages plus attorneys fees.

You need to start by sending them a 93A demand letter to preserve your legal rights under 93A. See: Sample 93A letter.

You also need to inform them you are going to report their alteration of the contract to the MA Attorney General's Consumer Protection Unit as well as the BBB and let everyone know how they conduct business. One thing with these clubs is the last thing they want is publicity, especially bad publicity and many times this will convince them to back off and refund your money.

If they continue to try to enforce a invalid and altered contract, you would have to sue them for fraud, breach of contract and violation of 93A and seek your damages from them.

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