AUSTIN (KXAN) — “Please help!”
KXAN has heard frustrated pleas from gym members running into problems trying to cancel memberships.
“Gold’s Gym is still charging people for gym memberships and the only way you can cancel is to send a certified letter where no one is working,” writes a KXAN News viewer. “When you don’t have a job because of this pandemic every dollar counts!”
Another viewer tells KXAN, “Members must go to a location in person to cancel or suspend membership. Very unethical in time of crisis.”
The state ordered all gyms and fitness centers to close because of COVID-19. KXAN investigator Arezow Doost reached out to a number of gyms to check on policies when it comes to canceling or freezing memberships.
“Our company-owned Gold’s Gym locations, which include all 18 Austin-area gyms, are freezing membership dues for members at no cost until our local gyms are able to reopen,” explains Adam Zeitsiff, Gold’s Gym President & CEO. “We continue to follow all direction from public health officials and we are doing our best to manage all aspects of our business so we can ensure our gyms are able to reopen as soon as it is safe for our members, team members and communities.”
The gym is offering free virtual classes to members and non-members.
The gym says memberships will be extended for the same period that gyms are closed. Customers will still be charged.
“We encourage our members and all consumers to utilize the free downloadable 24GO app and all of the additional offerings we have provided to stay active and healthy during this time. We are adding fresh content and new virtual workouts daily,” said the company in a statement.
Complaints have poured into 24 Hour Fitness’ Facebook page. “This is not acceptable,” says one member. “You are charging for services you can’t provide.”
Another member writes, “How can you charge when the club is closed?! We’re paying for something we can’t use!”
The gym says all Life Time clubs will be closed until governmental guidance.
“Member accounts will be credited for the number of days the club is closed, and we will keep you updated with a reopening date,” is posted on the company website.
The studio gyms posted online that membership dues will be suspended automatically and you do not need to contact the studio.
“Our communities are strong. We will work to maintain those connections in the days and weeks ahead, and we will help keep you active with at-home workouts that will be available to you in the coming days,” said a message to members from the president of the company along with the co-founder.
The YMCA of Austin provides a number of services besides gym access to Austinites, including financial assistance, swim lessons, child care and senior classes.
The organization says you can cancel or put your membership on hold, but is requesting people continue to support the YMCA so it can help provide those and other services when it returns to normal operations. It is also continuing to provide child care for health care and first responders at its Southwest Family Y, East Communities Y and the Hays Communities Y.
“If you place your membership on hold due to the current public health situation, you will not be charged. If you still choose to cancel, you will not be charged a joining fee when you return,” says the YMCA of Austin.
What can you do?
If you’re noticing charges call or email the company’s corporate office. You can also file a complaint with the Texas Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection.
“Our Consumer Protection Division has received four complaints against gyms related to COVID-19, and three of those are regarding businesses handling closures during this time,” says a spokesperson “The gyms complained about are located in Houston, Kingwood, and Sugar Land. The Consumer Protection Division is still processing complaints, so we may have an updated number in coming days.”