Action 9

‘Like a slap in the face’: Consumer claims gym made unauthorized withdrawals for years

ORLANDO, Fla. — An Orlando woman contacted Action 9 claiming a local gym took around $2,000 out of her account through unauthorized charges.

When Lula Marshall retired in 2018, getting in shape was a priority.  She was 64 years old when she signed up to work out at 24 Hour Fitness on Resource Avenue in Orlando.  Her understanding of the agreement was that when she turned 65 a few months later, she would be enrolled in the “Silver Sneakers” program.  Silver Sneakers is free for seniors and covered by many insurance plans.

“I felt like since we were able to go to the gym free of charge, I was going to join the gym and try to get some of this weight off me,” she said.

Marshall told Action 9 she even double checked with someone at the gym when her 65th birthday rolled around to make sure her free membership kicked in.

“And they say, ‘Yeah, we already got you set up in Silver Sneakers,’” according to Marshall.

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It wasn’t until recently, she went through her bank statements and realized 24 Hour Fitness continued to hit her account for automatic withdrawals of more than $40 each month for the past few years.

She told Action 9′s Jeff Deal, “I was shocked. I mean, devastated. Like, wait a minute, but then I felt so stupid.”

Marshall blames herself for not noticing it sooner, but said 24 Hour Fitness should never have taken the money.

She turned to Action 9 after she claimed the company initially offered to refund $400, but she believed the payback should have been roughly $2,000.

“Felt like it was a slap in the face you know. It was like, ‘Ok, we took your money ok, so bye,’ you know,” Marshall said.

In 2020, Action 9 reported on 24 Hour Fitness after consumers complained about automatic withdrawals that happened even while the club was shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ: Couple scammed out of nearly $24,000 turns to Action 9 for help

Better Business Bureau president Holly Salmons said vigilance is key. “Autodraft and auto renew is a business model for many companies, if you’re not carefully monitoring your finances, these expenses could be charged month after month, year after year.”

In Marshall’s case, after Action 9 started asking questions 24 Hour Fitness refunded nearly $1,600, which the company said was the full amount.

She’s is happy to have the money back, but also wanted to leave a warning for others about automatic withdrawals.

“Stay on top of your game. That’s all I got to say. I wasn’t  on top of mine,” she said.

Under federal law, you have the right to stop a company, like a gym, from taking automatic payments from your account even if you previously allowed it.  It’s best to notify them both verbally and in writing.  You should also notify your bank or credit union if you have revoked authorization for that company to make the automatic withdrawals from your account.

24 Hour Fitness Response:

We can confirm that Lula Marshall has been refunded the full amount of her credit card charges from 24 Hour Fitness. As a qualified Silver Sneakers member, she can enjoy full coverage of her membership at 24 through her insurance company in the months and years ahead.

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.

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