Bally Total Fitness / Denied cancelling contract
I Caryn R. Kershaw Morris have been a upstanding member of Bally Total Fitness since 1994. My husband has been in the military for 14 years. He was recently deployed to war in Iraq for 15 months and came home Jan 19th. We have PCS orders for Fort Benning, which is located in Columbus, GA. I moved to Columbus GA Dec 28, 2008.
My sons and I were engaged in the three year black belt program Bally's offers. I signed a contract for each of us. I did not want to sign a contract but the Bally's rep said I could get out of my contract by providing a lease or military orders, if they do not have a program or have a Bally's with-in 25 miles of driving. Well, the closest Bally's is in Atlanta, GA which is over an hour away from me. And they don't offer the black belt karate program either. My membership is paid in full.
So I called the rep and she told me after waiting to get through for 45 mins that I had to write a letter via fax and send a copy of my lease. I did just that. In fact I not only sent two fax letters I sent 3 and they said they never got any of them. So I sent a certified letter which Bally's had to sign for. I received confirmation they got my lease and letter, and all the documentation for cancellation.
I was written a letter at my new place of residence in Georgia that they could not verify my new address because the signature on my lease was not included. in fact it was. I have complete copies of everything I sent. All Bally's had to do if they were uncertian was call the number on the lease. How much sense does it make to say "hey we can't verify your residence, and then send me a letter to the very place you can't verify?" Which means Bally's updated my information and gave an excuse not to cancel the contracts.
So I faxed the information again and sent another certified letter March 17th. Now they are saying that my name has changed and they need all types of verification it's me. But yet, my sons names are the exact same on the contract as on the lease, and they never canceled their contracts. They told me over the phone they needed verification that they are minors. So I faxed Bally's a copy of their birth certificates, when it states clearly on their memberships their ages and birthday. I sent all of this information certified mail which my lawyer advised me to do.
I find that faxing does nothing, they just say they never received it, however I have all the fax confirmations that they did receive it. Which can stand up in a lawsuit against Bally's. I also asked for the full refunds of our contracts back dated from the dated they signed the the certified piece of mail, with all the documentation. I really believe Bally's doesn't bank on people to file law suits against them, however I will be filing a lawsuit if they do not stop the bank drafts and refund the money they took to pay themselves.
I have given written notification and proof of re- location from Houston to Georgia as required by the contract. As the contract states in paragraph #7, member may cancel if "more than 25 DRIVING miles from either the club of enrollment OR any other club 'which Member is ENTITLED to UNDER THE MEMBERSHIP PLAN CHOSEN'".
My interpretation is that if I cannot use ANY other club, as stated on this agreement, that I qualify for cancellation. However, Bally WILL NOT, after repeated phone calls release my contract. Additionally they maintain that they can "transfer" the contract at will to any participating club. This however is not the case and is not WRITTEN under this paragraph or any other paragraph.
The customer service rep. maintains that ALL contracts fall under this broad clause and they determine driving distance by www.mapquest.com. which is also not stated in the contract. It seems to me that they have VERY substantial latitude in their analysis of what is or is not permissible in their contract. I have had NO choice but to close the direct withdrawal account.
Inasmuch, all of the customer service reps that I have been in contact with prior to today in hopes of gaining consistent clarification (which has never been the same) as to my rights, have been completely unwilling to accept this written and supported assessment of their own contract. It is clear that my ONLY course of action is LEGAL as they continue to maintain their position. It leads me to believe that they hope you will not have the interest in a protrated legal battle and will succumb to this abhorrent treatment because of the absence of drive to bring the dispute to a just conclusion. I cannot negotiate with a customer service rep who is TOTALLY unqualified to provide legal interpretations of this contract, nor should they be allowed to do so.
I feel I have been cheated. I feel that in good faith I cancelled this contract using the procedures they set forth. I signed the Bally contract after reading it in its entirety. In good faith, I believed that abiding by the procedures set forth in the cancellation clause that I would be free of this contract. This company never attempted to make good on their customer service promise.
Furthermore, when asked to speak with a manager who might be somewhat educated about their practices the cust. service rep disconnects and does not have any intentions of giving his/her name.
My advise to be to others who are going through this would be to send everything certified mail, keep copies of everything. If you call be patient and wait for 45 mins document everyone you speak to at the time and date. Write down exactly what was said and go after them legally through class action lawsuit or small claims court. And make sure you bring all your documents with you when you go to court.
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