LA Fitness — misleading, deceptive, hassle, harassment
I am writing to register a formal complaint against several LA Fitness business practices encountered during my membership period. These include misleading terms, out-right lies, harassment, and inappropriate uses of personal data.
1. Free Trial Pass: When I arrived at a Tucson LA Fitness gym to use the free pass I’d printed from the website, I was required to sit with a sales representative for an “orientation” first. Before the representative would tell me anything about the gym, he tried to collect considerable personal information about me: name, date of birth, address, weight, age, health information. He also insisted that I sign a “release of liability” before he would give me a tour of the gym.
I refused to give the personal information, explaining that I knew nothing about the gym and was uncomfortable sharing this data until I knew more. I protested about the “release of liability” but was eventually coerced into signing it in order to find out any information about the gym.
The “Free Trial Pass” proved to be nothing more than an opportunity for the gym to give a lengthy sales pitch and collect personal data about me.
2. Membership Initiation: When I signed up for the membership, I was promised two “perks” that proved to be deceptive.
a. Free 2-week Pass for my son: On the first day that I arrived with my son to use this pass, I was told, “Actually, passes aren’t issued to children under the age of 18.” I responded that it was a condition of my membership initiation. I was told, “It is not possible.” My son was allowed to use the gym that day only.
b. Two free 60 minute sessions with a Trainer: These turned out to be sales pitches rather than training sessions. The person giving the “training” again tried to collect personal data, requiring me to stand on a scale. If this information were useful for training, I would have been more comfortable. I was uncomfortable because the information was only used to tailor the sales pitch. The actual training consisted of lifting a couple of free weights for about 10 minutes, with no commentary about proper form or purpose of the particular exercise.
3. Billing: Two family members and two friends joined the gym within a month of my initiation. For some reason, our records were linked in a way that could never be untangled. Under my account were listed my husband and one of my friends. My friends husband was listed separately on his own account. My son was listed under a third person. This meant that our credit card and payment information was scattered across all these accounts in the same way. So, I was billed for the friend listed on my account. And my son’s bill was sent to the third person. After several attempts to remedy this, the bills were eventually charged to the correct credit cards, but the record structure could not be altered.
4. Change of Payment: For about two weeks, I received calls from all over the country by people claiming to work for LA Fitness and asking me for new credit card information. Several times I told the callers, I will address this situation with my local gym because I am not willing to give credit card information over the phone. I asked them to please not call again.
The last person to call me identified herself as “from LA Fitness.” She said she had my account information in front of her. She asked if I’d recently had my credit card lost or stolen. I indicated that I would not reveal personal financial information over the phone and that I would sort out the issue with my local gym. I indicated that I’d been called several times about this and it was starting to feel like harassment. I asked her to please stop calling. She became belligerent and threatening. She said the calls would continue until the issue was resolved. After explaining repeating that I would not give her any credit card information over the phone, I eventually became exasperated and said, “Aright, I will resolve this issue right now. Please cancel my membership.” She refused. I repeated, “Please stop calling me, please cancel my membership.” And she continued threatening, “ The calls will not stop and you cannot cancel your membership over the phone.” Finally, I said, “I would like to file a formal complaint about this phone call, please tell me your name.” She immediately hung up on me.
Because this seemed so much like fraud or attempted identity theft, I sifted through my caller ID, found the phone number from which I’d been called: [protected]. Calling it, I repeated my request to know her name. She identified herself as “Keri” at a gym in California, but refused to give a last name. I asked to speak to her manager. She replied that she was the manager. I asked for the name of a supervisor, and she gave me the name of “Scott Legg.”
I went to my local gym to ask about all this. I sorted out the confusion about my credit card. The woman at my local gym explained that the LA Fitness computer system presents employees with the same call list and account information. Since they make calls from the same list, they cannot tell if a particular customer is receiving numerous calls at the same time.
5. Membership cancellation: The only way to cancel a membership, according to several employees and managers, is to go in person to a local gym, request a printed form, and mail it to a corporate office elsewhere. If the form is post-marked less than 20 days before the next billing cycle, the customer will be charged for another full month.
I was advised to send it registered mail. Apparently, it is common for LA Fitness to dispute the receipt of cancellation requests. By using registered mail, I would have proof that I’d sent it in.
In my opinion, going to the local gym and asking to cancel should be sufficient.
After all these difficulties, we decided to cancel our memberships with LA Fitness. The manner in which LA Fitness conducts business includes several practices which are deceptive, coercive, harassing, hassling, and uncomfortable, and in some cases cannot be distinguished from potential fraud. I felt that the company was primarily interested in extracting every possible dollar from me, and not very interested in providing me with a positive service. We would prefer to work with a company that conducts itself with integrity and that offers services that can be identified with accurate names.
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