LA Fitness is dumb.
December 13, 2012 11:38 AM   Subscribe

LA Fitness didn't cancel my membership when they told me they did. Is it reasonable to chargeback in this situation?

I had a membership at a gym (LA Fitness). I moved, and it was no longer convenient so I wanted to cancel my membership. Their website notes that the only way to cancel a membership is to print a form, fill it out and mail it to them, and it will get canceled a month later. I thought this was needlessly difficult, and also was frustrated that I would have to pay for another month I wasn't using, so I called their customer service. While asking about it, a representative offered to cancel it all on her end, and assured me that this was sufficient and it would definitely be cancelled.

Last night I was checking my statements as I do occasionally (though obviously not as often as I should) and saw that I had a pending charge to LA fitness, and in fact they had continued to charge me (two times) since I had "cancelled" in October.

Today I called the customer service line. The guy helped me close my account (allegedly) and said he was sorry for the trouble, and refunded me the payment from December, but apparently couldn't refund any more than one month because of company policy.

On one hand I had assurance from an employee that they would not take my money anymore, and definitely didn't use their gym since October. On the other hand I didn't check up on it, and I don't have proof of the first employee supposedly canceling my account. Is it worth getting my bank (ING) involved for the $30 for November? Or should I chalk this up as a life lesson and grumble about it for the rest of the week?
posted by DynamiteToast to Work & Money (13 answers total)
Cut and paste this onto their Yelp page. At the very least, it will make you feel better, and there's a good possibility that it might kick their asses into action.
posted by roger ackroyd at 11:41 AM on December 13, 2012

It's not clear to me why you wouldn't get customer service involved. You paid for something you didn't authorize. My credit card company allows me to initiate chargebacks online - you don't even have to talk to anyone.

The worst that happens is your credit card company rejects the chargeback. This does not strike me as likely, because gyms are notorious for making cancellation impossible, and your bank knows this.
posted by saeculorum at 11:41 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

The last time I quit a gym, they did this to me, then pointed out the fine print that said you had to give them 3 months notice if you quit. Standard scam, I'm afraid, and one reason why I never joined another. (Yay for county rec centers!)
posted by JoanArkham at 11:43 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Escalate up to a manager, then to the CEO if that doesn't work. Basic customer service. Front line has a policy, escalation people can overrule.
posted by inturnaround at 11:45 AM on December 13, 2012

Call, escalate. Only do a chargeback as a last resort.
posted by radioamy at 11:52 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes, have your bank dispute the charges. In the future, gyms are in it for the money, so follow whatever hassle they have you do to INSURE that you don't end up in this situation.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:53 AM on December 13, 2012

Something like this happened to me and I called up the credit card company and told them what had happened. They flagged it as a disputed charge, talked to the gym, and ultimately credited me the amount. This was American Express, which is known for having great customer protection, so YMMV, but I think it makes more sense to go to your credit card company (which wants to keep you happy as a customer) than the gym (which doesn't care).
posted by chickenmagazine at 11:59 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you charge it back, they will send it to collections which will be a hassle. You'll win in the end.
posted by bensherman at 12:36 PM on December 13, 2012

Gold's gym did this to me as well. Huge scam and scummy business practice. Going through the customer service at they gym was not helpful, there is almost certainly a clause in the contract that you sign that details the need to send in the cancellation by certified mail.

The scummy part is that when I attempted to unsubscribe in person, the attendant did not notify me about the cert. mail requirement, and assured me that everything had been taken care of, and I only noticed after a few months went by.

In my eyes the last part is willful fraud and I wish a class action lawsuit would shred these assholes as after doing a bit of research seems to be a widespread problem in the industry.
posted by spatula at 1:14 PM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hah, company policy is not to refund your money. That sure is convenient!
posted by rhizome at 3:24 PM on December 13, 2012

A quick Google turned up a few years worth of stories.
posted by rhizome at 3:26 PM on December 13, 2012

Fyi, pretty sure this is standard practice at most gyms. Gold's totally did the same thing to me.
posted by kat518 at 4:02 PM on December 13, 2012

Me too, at Gold's Gym. I even closed the bank account, then they took it to collections. I never paid and the statute of limitations timed out. They lost, not me.
posted by coolsara at 7:32 PM on December 13, 2012

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