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Bally's Total Fitness

Discussion in 'Other Debt, Collection, Garnishment' started by desilina82, Jul 31, 2008.

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  1. desilina82

    desilina82 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    ** I hope that this thread will inspire others who have had issues with Bally's Total Fitness to express their situation - and to FIGHT, and not back down. Please share your stories.**

    Hello All,

    This is my first post on this board, and I am quite surprised that I have not seen many posts (only a few) regarding Bally's Total Fitness. Why is this? Also, why does it seem as though no one has a chance to cancel their contract? I do understand that they can afford the best lawyers money can buy, but does this mean that average people can't win against them?

    For those who are not aware of Bally's contract drama, I will explain it here.

    Bally's Total Fitness has received a large number of complaints over the years, in regards to their cancellation policy. Even if you are a broke college student who needs to cancel your membership in order to pay for school, you can't cancel. Even if you are losing your house, and trying to pay for your sick child's medication, you can't cancel. If you sign their 3 year contract, you are locked in for 3 years.

    Here are the ONLY ways to cancel your Bally's Membership: death, permanent disability, or moving 25+ miles from any facility. THAT'S IT! In layman's terms, if you're trying to cancel your Bally's membership, and you're ALIVE, within 25 miles of a Bally's, and NOT permanently disabled (and they are extremely picky on what they consider permanent!), you CAN'T cancel your membership! Period! If you happen to live on the East Coast (NYC, Philly, NJ, etc) - there is literally no way to live that far from a Bally's - they are everywhere! Which means that a large majority of people who live on the East Coast only have 2 options with which they can use to cancel their membership: die or become permanently disabled. Wow - what great customer service Bally's has!

    And guess what? Even if you only go to the gym only 1 time within your 3 year contract, you are still obligated to pay the FULL balance. Which is upwards of $2000 dollars! And if you do not pay them, they will report you to all 3 credit bureaus, and ruin your credit. How are people supposed to organize their finances, if they can't even cancel a simple gym membership? It's not like canceling Netflix! There are serious issues that occur! There are hundreds of websites with complaints.

    For more, simply google: "bally's contract" "bally's membership" etc.

    Here is what an alleged Bally's Membership Counselor had to say about it - and warning, she isn't very nice:

    ***********************************************
    Jenna - 3 May 2008
    "I personally am one of the membership counselors who explains in plain English to each member who signs their contract. We NEVER tell them that they can "cancel anytime they want," or sign up minors. We are clear from the beginning that they have a set amount of time in which they may cancel, but beyond that they are responsible for FULFILLING THEIR AGREEMENT.

    tj- you have no idea what you're talking about. Our "breaching" our contract by failing to maintain the club to one individual's "standards" do not constitute a requirement on our part to cancel their membership. We DO cancel memberships being used inappropriately (such as by another family member with existing member's consent) but the balance is due and payable if we find you are frauding your account. In conclusion, the only way to cancel your account is: death, permanent disability verfied by your primary care physician that renders you totally incapable of performing any physical activity (we have only once had this happen and it turned out to be FRAUD by the customer, or moving 25+ miles from any facility. We do not "finance" our contracts, rather everything is done in-house to keep a close monitoring on financial activity. ONLY when a member defaults does their membership get sold to a collections company. You are NEVER allowed to cancel a membership by phone, fax, or mail as we do not know if some jealous ex has obtained your information and is cancelling every account you have. We even require a form filled out and signed by two witnesses! Contractual terms clearly state that we may change said terms "at any time with no notice to buyer or member" and that these changes do not in any way affect the legality of their contract.

    The reason Equifax has stopped accepting consumer complaints for fitness centers is because after the consumer files a complaint, the contract is read by Equifax attorneys and found to have sound structure and those "fraudulent" charges were actually perfectly legal bank drafts that continued until their cancellation date. We have been through this so many times: Members behave as though it's OUR problem that they're too lazy to go to the gym and that they are under their personally fabricated impression that they don't have to pay if they're not coming to the gym. We are not babysitters. It is in no way my responsibility to ensure your fitness health or personal motivation. Most people just assume that if they don't come to the gym that month, we won't charge them. It's an AUTOMATIC draft. That means our billing system drafts it - you guessed it - AUTOMATICALLY. Again, if you don't drive your car for a month, I'll bet the bank doesn't let you out of paying your note that month.

    It is not a crooked business; but often members believe our contracts are something they will just get out of whenever they want "because they said so." If you think you are above the law, you are not. We follow the same financial and contractual structure as 95% of the health and wellness centers in this country. The law can, will, and has upheld our payment drafts in every single chargeback case we have ever processed.

    What people think they are getting away with when they sign up for a fitness center is deplorable. People think they can come in, get 3 months free, and cancel their membership before they get drafted for their first paid month. Then when you tell them that they signed an agreement, they will say anything, whether true or a blatant lie, to get out of that agreement. I have had people I personally signed up and vividly remember conversating with about the cancellation policy say that they never even signed an agreement or have been in the building. One woman told us that she had never even lived in the state the club was located in. We mailed a fraud notice to her address down the street a few days later, and she magically received it the next day. She also magically still had a local home phone number and magically drove to the facility within 30 minutes of phone conversation from three states away. We had a gentleman who claimed that he cancelled his membership 10 years ago and angrily demand to know why we were calling him 10 years later. We had only been in business for two years at the time.

    Grievances are not a valid reason to cancel your account, and neither is "not having time to come anymore." If you purchase a car, you can't give it back or stop paying the note because you don't have time to drive it anymore. You have to either sell it (similar to transferring your membership) or - here's a thought - GET YOUR FAT LAZY AS* UP OFF THE COUCH AND GO DRIVE! Most people try to cancel their membership with no valid reason other than that they are too lazy to go. Every gym allows cancellations with true or valid reasons. But if the facility is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. you have literally ZERO excuse not to come.

    If someone signs up a minor, that is unfortunate. But the bottom line is:

    IF YOU ARE NOT GOING TO FULFILL YOUR CONTRACT, DON'T SIGN IT."


    ****************************************************

    Having said all of this - what can be done? Why should someone, who only went to the gym once or twice have to pay upwards of $2000?? In my case, it's $2500!! And I've only been to the gym on 2 occasions - yes, only twice! Meaning, I've swiped my card (Bally's can check their system to see when I logged in with my membership card - which is the only way to enter the gym) twice. This means they want me to pay $1250 per visit!!! If that is not crazy, bizzare, .... then I do not know what is.

    If you are also going through this - PLEASE share your stories!!

    And...to be honest, I have no faith in the justice system if apparently no one can beat a GYM company. Wow....think about it. It's amazingly sad how a piece of paper (contract), can not be altered even when us humans go through many life cycles (up and downs, goods and bads) - what ever happened to empathy?
     
  2. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    I don't know what to say. Bally's has been doing this for years. This is the real question - if you knew that their policy was as it was, why did you agree to it? With many people I've spoken to, they just didn't like the terms. Was there another shorter agreement where you'd pay more but for a higher monthly fee? Best of luck...
     
  3. desilina82

    desilina82 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks for a reply - I'm surprized that on a forum, especially a law forum, no one else had anything to say. Anyway, we were NOT aware of this policy until AFTER we tried to cancel.

    Trust me, this is not a situation one asks to be in.

    What bothers me most, is that no one is really challenging this company. Even in your reply, you offered no suggestions on how to resolve this issue. We are in a recession, and they are still making money.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2008
  4. Duranie

    Duranie Moderator

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    Bally's sucks and has been doing this for years. I would NEVER join a gym where it asked me to sign a 3 year contract. That is ridiculous. There are other gyms out there that do month to month or even yearly. I think almost everyone gets into a contract with a gym at one time or another. I always caution people to avoid Bally's. You need to read what you are signing plain and simple. It is all in the contract. Where I live there is no reason to join a gym that sticks you to a year contract since there are at least 10 gyms to choose from and most have flexible terms and contracts.

    I am sorry you feel you were suckered but you signed the dotted line. I think Bally's is bankrupt anyways aren't they? I imagine a good % of their contracts go into collections.
     
  5. itsjustme2

    itsjustme2 New Member

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    Read Before You Sign...

    I hate to be the one to say it to you, but you should have read your CONTRACT.

    CONTRACT:
    1. an agreement between two or more parties for the doing or not doing of something specified.
    2. an agreement enforceable by law.
    3. the written form of such an agreement.

    If you read through your contract it is plain as day when they state their "cancellation policy." Even if your specific membership representative failed to read through this information with you...you should have read it yourself. Consider the lesson learned to read before you sign...always!

    You can't BLAME Bally's for making you responsible for a contract you signed...whether you like it or not. :no:
     
  6. tallect2

    tallect2 New Member

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    Been trying to cancel...

    I've moved to a state where there are no Bally's and I can't cancel because I can't even get a hold of them on the phone! I stopped in my gym before I moved and no one could help me, they told me I had to call corporate. So I did have have yet to get a hold of someone. Everytime I call I get rejected because of the high call volume. This is after having learned that I need to send a utility bill with my new address to cancel!! Seriously? I've considered calling my bank and stopping authorization of Ballys to deduct money from my account in the meantime. Is this a bad idea?
     
  7. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    Isn't there a physical address on your contract or fax number? Why not sent them a termination letter via mail, fax and/or email?
     
  8. tallect2

    tallect2 New Member

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    I am in the process of doing that, however their phone recording states that your membership will not be canceled until you hear from them in writing. I just don't trust them to be timely about it. Meanwhile, its a waste of money.
     
  9. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    This is what I thought - so let me get this straight. All you had to do was send a letter - via a certified method if you don't trust them (or even just a fax) - and you're now considering this a waste of money? Honestly, if you just followed their direction, which is rather easy, you'd be out of this mess. Why do you continue to call if everything says to send them written notice?
     
  10. Ecdr

    Ecdr New Member

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    Im going through the same thing. I was very naive when signing up. I was also not told everything about the contract or the cancelation policy. I was only told how low my monthly payment was. I stopped going after a few months and tried to cancel my membership. I was denied that and told I didnt fall in the reasons of cancelation. I have been sent to collections now and have to pay them 800$ or so. The manner they do business doesnt make sense except to keep people paying for a service not being used. There must abe a way and someone who has been able to bypass there crooked contract.
     
  11. lauraloo31

    lauraloo31 New Member

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    Monthly membership

    I have a monthly membership and am moving to a location that is 35 miles from the nearest gym and I am having the hardest time cancelling my membership. I still have no idea how to do it. I think making it difficult to cancel a monthly membership for a legitimate reason is ridiculous. I have proof that I'm moving and I went to the gym every day until I decided to move and have run into this problem.
     
  12. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    Did you read the terms on how to cancel? If I remember from another user, it's a fax and letter and you're done. Did you review the contract?
     
  13. uscgrob

    uscgrob New Member

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    Military Member trying to cancel

    Lawprofessor,


    I am a military member trying to cancel my membership. The problem I have had is for the past few months I have been trying to cancel my membership. I sent the letter with two forms of change of address b/c I moved to Kodiak, AK where there is not a Bally's for over 1000 miles. Along with this letter that was sent certified mail and has the change of address, I sent a $50 cancellation fee. Which they have already cashed over 2 months ago and they are still taking payments out of my account. The contract says that you will get a letter back saying that you are cancelled, and i have yet to receive it. I realize i signed the dotted line but I went to the gym 4 days a week every week for over a year. Now that I have moved back home, I can't shake these people from my life. I appreciate any info you have. THanks,

    Rob
     
  14. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    Who are you trying to shake? Is it a collection agency or Bally's?
     
  15. uscgrob

    uscgrob New Member

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    Bally's

    I'm sorry for the way I had stated it. It's seems that before your membership is cancelled, you will receive an email stating that you are cancelled. Until you get that back and it is date/time stamped with signature then they will keep taking payments out. I'm in the military and about to be deployed and they have yet to send me back a letter. I called today and the number i was given to call back to after they had figured it all back was a disconnected number in california. This is all from bally's, there is no collections agency that I am dealing with. Again I appreciate all the info. Thanks,

    ROB
     
  16. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    That doesn't make any sense to me - how can you receive an email stating that you are canceled until they know you want to cancel and have notice from you that you are hereby canceling the agreement? Regard your call, who did you reach and whose number did they give you? If Mr. X keeps calling, why isn't dealing with Mr. X sufficient.
     
  17. AndyCRM2002

    AndyCRM2002 New Member

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    Bally's scam

    Hello Sir,

    I have been scammed by Bally's similiar to some of the other users here on this forum. Here is what happened:

    1) I joined Bally's an year back..signed a 3 year contract..cancellation clause was very clear about moving/relocating where there is no Bally's in and around 25 miles of your new place

    2)relocated to another country recently due to change of job

    3)sent Bally's a 'certified mail returned receipt' cancellation letter and got my acknowledgement back signed by Bally's

    4) Called them couple of weeks after i received this acknowledged receipt and their system shows membership cancelled. Firtunately they have stopped billing my credit card after i paid them cancellation charges of $50

    5)Now they owe me some $150 for the extra payment i made even after the membership was cancelled. I have confirmed this after talking to some of their reps that their system shows my memberhsip cancelled and i am supposed to get credit from them.

    6) I have called them atleast 15 times asking them to send me an email/letter confirming cancellation..everytime the person on phone ssays its going to take couple of days and i have still not received any cancellation letter since last 5 months

    7)Suddenly i have started receiving email and a letter (snail mail) as well asking for paying the remaining balance of some $1008 which is supposed to be for the remaining period of 3 years.

    I am sure they got bugged with my calls and decided to scare me with 'collection agency' tactics. At this point of time i am in no mood to pay them anything since they have accepted the cancellation and are supposed to close the case.

    I would like to know how i can avoid their 'going to the collection agency' threat since i dont see that i have done anything wrong

    Thanks for your time and appreciate your help

    Andycrm2002
     
  18. antonxvi

    antonxvi New Member

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    I signed for Bally's in september 2008. Since January 2009 I have been living in Sweden, trying to cancel my membership. I have sent them a letter with proof of my new resident from the swedish tax agency, which is a governmental organ, and a copy of my USA VISA that expired on december 08. They didn't consider it enough proof, and didn't even bother to notify my of that. I had to call them up 3 months later and ask them if they had got my letter, and yes of course they had but the proof they received wasn't enough.
    This organization seems to do anything to avoid a cancellation. I was even promised face to face from a manager that he would cancel my membership as soon as I e-mailed him my flight confirmation home to sweden. He ignored all my emails and phone calls until 4 months later when I finally got him on the phone. When I explained who I was he told me to hold, and redirected me to anyther employee.

    Meanwhile im sitting in sweden, thousands of miles from the nearest gym, paying 50$ a month and have been doing so for over a year. They are bankrupting me.
     
  19. jbeans

    jbeans New Member

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    There is hope...

    I was able to successfully cancel my Bally's membership a few years ago, but they do make you jump through some hoops. You have to write a letter explaining the reason you want to cancel, which pretty much HAS to be relocation (unless you die or become permanently disabled). To prove that you moved, you have to send one of the following..

    1. A utility bill in your name.
    2. A bank or credit card statement in your name.
    3. Your new driver's license.
    4. Your new lease.
    5. The postal forwarding mail sticker.
    6. Your military orders which include location and report date.
    7. A document verifying your campus address.

    As far as I know - they will not accept anything else (no matter how obvious or reasonable you think it might be). Include all pertinent information in the letter (membership info, account number, etc), and send it via certified mail. It has to be certified... otherwise, they could just claim they never received it (so really - this is for your benefit). Don't bother calling... even if you get in touch with someone - they probably won't know how to help you. They have a list of instructions online about how to cancel membership - you must follow them exactly.

    In my case, I had moved and sent them a piece of mail with a postal forwarding mail sticker - my membership was cancelled without any issues. I was shocked, because I'd heard so many horror stories about people who were stuck in 3 year contracts (several of my friends included). I know it's just a gym membership, but you might as well treat it as signing a lease... there's no changing your mind later. Yes, they will do anything to avoid cancelling a membership... that is blatantly obvious by their contract. All I can say is - there is hope... as long as you're willing to play by their rules.
     
    Proserpina likes this.
  20. Proserpina

    Proserpina Moderator

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    That was a VERY helpful post, jbeans!
     

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