APOPKA, Fla. — An Apopka man claims his gym won’t refund fees it charged after closing because of the pandemic, and as infection rates soar, some consumers want to stop paying for gym memberships when they don’t feel safe working out.
24 Hour Fitness USA offered just what Gerry, who didn’t want his last name used, and his wife wanted, a gym near their Apopka home.
“We liked it and thought we had a home there,” Gerry said. “Now I’m not so sure.”
Gerry claimed that after the pandemic shut down the facility on March 16, the company charged his credit card a $46 fee, twice, for his wife’s membership.
“It’s a very unethical thing to do when people are just trying to survive the pandemic,” he said.
The couple asked for a refund but on June 15, 24 Hour Fitness USA filed for bankruptcy.
“I thought they were going to refund all the people prior to that and they didn’t and they don’t want to,” he said.
Dozens of customers sent complaints to the Better Business Bureau about COVID-19-related refunds that were denied.
There’s a class action lawsuit in California against 24 Hour Fitness USA for collecting fees after closing for the pandemic.
However, it’s not just 24 Hour Fitness. Several national chains left customers upset about fees charged after their doors closed.
There are other customer class action lawsuits demanding refunds, and as gyms reopen and follow local and state safety guidelines some consumers want to know what options exist if they don’t feel it’s safe to return.
The president of the Central Florida BBB, Holly Salmons, said to call the company for information. “Ask them to provide you a copy of your contact. You want to look at the out clauses you have. You need to check before it renews,” she said.
Depending on the company, you could make a case for freezing or canceling the contract, she said.
Action 9 contacted 24 Hour Fitness. The company said it does its best to resolve members concerns and that Gerry was told how to make a refund claim through a bankruptcy claims agent.
The company said members health is its top priority. Its staff and members wear masks, follow social distancing and follow stringent cleaning procedures.
Gerry still wants his money back. “It makes a difference to me how people treat their customers,” he said.
If you want to adjust a gym membership because of COVID-19, consumer experts said to ask for a freeze or cancellation in writing, and make it clear why you’re making the request.
24 Hour Fitness USA released the following statement to Action 9:
“At 24 Hour Fitness, we are committed to providing a great fitness experience for all members and guests in our clubs. We do our best to work with members to try and resolve their concerns. In conversation with Gerry, he requested a refund for dues related to his wife’s club membership. As 24 Hour Fitness is under a Chapter 11 restructuring process, Gerry was directed to the Claims Agent, Prime Clerk, for any inquiries about his refund.
- At 24 Hour Fitness our top priority is always the health and safety of club members, team members and guests
- The COVID-19 environment has put physical and mental health at the forefront of everyone’s wellbeing
- Since 24 Hour Fitness made the difficult decision to close all our clubs nationwide on March 16, we have been carefully planning for the eventual re-opening of clubs as state and local governments and public health agencies indicate it is safe to do so
- We monitor all state and local governments and public health agency mandates and guidelines to make sure that our health and safety protocols exceed them
- We have been inspected multiple times throughout the U.S. by various government agencies to make sure we comply with local government orders and have passed every inspection to date (whether for our ability to enforce mandates or our own stringent health and safety protocols)
- While clubs have been closed, as well as after they have all reopened, we are reimagining the club experience which begins before club members leave their homes
- We encourage everyone to download and utilize our free 24GO® personalized fitness app which can support your fitness needs and interests both inside and outside of the club environment with over 1,500 workouts you can do anywhere, anytime
“The following are some steps 24 Hour Fitness is taking to ensure a club environment with the health and safety of our team and members in mind:
- Club members can make a workout reservation one day in advance by using the free 24GO personalized fitness app
- Our clubs are open from 5 a.m. to 9 .m. daily
- Touch-free check-in that can now be accomplished in the club through the 24 Hour Fitness free 24GO personalized fitness app just by using your phone and the 24GO app.
- Our clubs are initially open for 60-minute sessions throughout the day, followed by a 30-minute closure for club cleaning between sessions, in addition to our already stringent cleaning procedures after club closing.
- All team members wear PPE at all times in the clubs and club members are required to wear masks at all times.
- Social distancing is promoted throughout our clubs with signage, spacing indicators and more. This may include temporary closures of amenities that cannot be used under social distancing guidelines, and decommissioning select cardio and strength equipment throughout the club to ensure proper spacing.
- Signage at the club exterior and throughout the club’s interior will help remind members and our team members of important safety protocols.
- Personal training and group fitness classes may meet in carefully chosen club areas where members can safely maintain social distancing.
- And, while some of our clubs are temporarily closed as well as after clubs are able to reopen, we encourage everyone to utilize our 24GO app for a selection of over 1,500 workouts that can be conducted anywhere with or without equipment and based on the time you have available. We also encourage everyone to visit 24GO LIVE, our new 24/7 workout experience broadcast on the 24 Hour Fitness YouTube Channel, among other virtual fitness solutions”
Cox Media Group