Are You Being Served?



A room; white walls, white seats, a woman in a crisp white uniform sits filing her nails. The faint smell of disinfectant lingers in the air. Automatic doors open, a man enters, wet with rain, he’s small, middle-aged and tired. He approaches the reception desk of the gymnasium. The receptionist stops filing…

RECEPTIONIST: Good morning, Sir. (jokingly) it’s a little early for a work-out don’t you think? I can still taste the toothpaste.

CUSTOMER: (uncomfortably): Oh, erm… yes I suppose it is… unfortunately, I’m not actually here for a work-out.


CUSTOMER: (nervously) No, I’m afraid not, In fact I’m going to have to cancel my membership.

RECEPTIONIST: I’m sorry to hear that, Sir. Has the Ironman package not been working for you?

CUSTOMER: Oh no, it has.

RECEPTIONIST: (smiling furtively) You can definitely see the effect it’s had on your arms, and with the weight-loss your facial features have become that much more defined.

CUSTOMER: (flattered) why, thank you… very much… There are some very good trainers here; I couldn’t have done it without them.

RECEPTIONIST: Then why, may I ask, are you leaving the Buns ‘n’ Guns family?

CUSTOMER: Well… ermm, I’m going through a bit of a financial transition at the moment and I really need to address my spending. As soon as things look up I‘ll definitely join again.

RECEPTIONIST: (smiling): Well, I’m certainly glad to hear it.

{She turns in her swivel-chair and searches through a filing cabinet}

CUSTOMER: Again, I’m terribly sorry about this.

RECEPTIONIST: Don’t be, these things happen.
(a file slams down on the counter.)
I’ll just need you to fill out this cancelation form, sign and date, here and here. And unfortunately it requires three months notice before membership can be cancelled.

CUSTOMER: But I don’t have any money, that’s why I’m cancelling my account. I can’t afford to pay you…

RECEPTIONIST: (looking over the rim of her glasses) uh, I’m sorry, Sir. It requires three months notice before an account can be closed, and I’m afraid we will be expecting payment for the next 3 months on the 27th, as agreed in your contract.

CUSTOMER: Well, I’m sorry but I can’t pay you. If you wont let me cancel today, I’ll just have to cancel the direct debit.”

RECEPTIONIST: That’s you prerogative, sir, but I feel obliged to let you know that if you default on your membership we will have no choice but to pursue you through the courts.

CUSTOMER: (disbelief) You’ll take me to court for not paying for three months of services I’m not using? Don’t you think that’s a little unreasonable? That, as I can’t afford to pay for your facilities, that I stop using them… I’ve paid up to the end of the month.
When I joined here, I was led to believe I could close an account at any point with no ifs or buts, that was one of your main selling points.

RECEPTIONIST: Sir! I don’t think I appreciate your tone, your contract states; an account can be closed at any point, not that payment will cease… It’s all there in the fine print… The only way you can cancel without paying is if we receive a letter of confirmation from you bank or building society that states you can longer afford to be a member here.

CUSTOMER: (sharply) Fine.



open plan, high ceilings, vanished wooden floor. Assistants wearing sharp black suits and big white smiles stand with their hands clasped behind them. A long velvet rope leads our protagonist past their posture to the Teller; a portly woman of 45 seemingly held together by the straining buttons of her blazer.

TELLER: how may I help you today?

CUSTOMER: Hello, I’m here to hopefully cancel my gym membership.

TELLER: (confused) Ah uh… You do realise you’re in the bank don’t you, Sir?

CUSTOMER: oh yes, I know… I went to the gym… They told me the only way to cancel my membership without paying the three months notice charge was to present a letter from the bank stating I can’t afford the payments, at which point they will close my account without charging me.

TELLER: Oh, I see. You’d be surprised how often things like this happen…. I’ll just need to check your account….

(she taps at a keyboard)

TELLER: Are you aware that you haven’t deposited any money in your account for over two months, sir?

CUSTOMER: Yes, I’m afraid I am back on the job market and work is proving hard to find.

TELLER: Well, Sir, it is quite clear that you can no longer afford gym fees of £90 a month. In fact, looking at this, you couldn’t afford to part with £20 a month at the moment… of course I mean no offence. The good news is you qualify for the statement. I can have it in the post for you today; your gym should receive it in the next two to three.

CUSTOMER: (smiling) Oh thank you so much. You’ve no idea of the stress I’ve been under…

TELLER: No problem at all, sir. We’re here to help

CUSTOMER: (relieved) so, that’s it?

TELLER: That’s it… now, I’ll just deduct the bank charges from your account…

CUSTOMER: Charges?

TELLER: Yes, unfortunately the bank only has a ‘no fees while in credit’ policy and your last direct debit payment has left you overdrawn. I have no choice but to charge you the service fee, transaction charge and for postage. A total of £33, Sir.

CUSTOMER: (annoyed) But that leaves me even more over drawn… you charge me for being over drawn.

TELLER: Oh, of course, I’m sorry, sir… I’ll add the overdraft charges to your account…

{Fade to Black}


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