HOUSTON – Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered all gyms and fitness centers to close last week, but you may have noticed your membership fee being auto-drafted from your bank account.
Consumer expert Amy Davis tells you what you need to do to make sure you are not paying for those services that you can’t use.
By now, most big gyms have decided how they plan to reimburse or settle up with members for this period of time that they are closed, but not everyone is happy with what some gyms are doing.
At the end of March, there were hundreds of complaints on 24-Hour Fitness’ Facebook page all echoing the same anger.
“You are a bunch of thieves. Many companies are doing the right thing, but you are deciding to line your pockets,” one complaint read.
24 Hour Fitness has more than 430 clubs in 14 states. Instead of freezing customers’ memberships while they are closed, they alerted members via Facebook they would be extending memberships for the same time period gyms are closed, but they’re still charging customers.
After this story was published and after deducted 2 months of membership fees from customers’ accounts, 24 Hour Fitness changed the policy. The website now reads:
“Effective April 16th, all memberships and billings were put on freeze until the clubs reopen in your area. Please be assured that members will receive additional days of club access equal to the number of days paid for while the clubs were closed in their area. That extension will apply at the end of the membership.”
Other fitness businesses like Erin Hines’ pure barre locations on Voss, in Sugar Land and Kingwood, are offering digital classes or allowing customers to suspend payments and their membership until they can pay.
Other gyms we checked are doing the same, including Planet Fitness.
Fitness Connection is freezing all memberships and not charging customers.
Life Time Fitness said all active memberships will get a prorated credit on their dues for the number of days its clubs are closed.
If your gym is not offering to freeze your payments or another solution that you are comfortable with, you should send a letter to the company’s corporate office demanding your dues be frozen or prorated. You can also send a complaint to the Texas Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection.
If enough people complain, the AG’s office could compel the gym to reimburse its members for the days it was not open.
You'll also find a list of other gyms and how they are handling membership fees while they are closed.
“As your long-term partner in fitness, we have proactively frozen all memberships on your behalf, and you will not be charged any fees during this time”
“All membership billing has been automatically frozen for the duration of the time we will be closed.”
“Based on recent orders from federal, state and local government authorities regarding COVID-19, all Lifetime destinations are closed. Club reopening is dependent upon governmental guidance and we will update you as we learn more. Active, club-accessing memberships will receive a prorated dues credit for the number of days the club is closed.”
“In compliance with local government and CDC recommendations, we have temporarily closed all locations. Be assured that memberships will be extended for the same period of time that our clubs are closed.”
If you are a member of a corporate-owned studio or a franchise studio that has closed, your membership dues will be suspended immediately. This will happen automatically; you do not need to contact the studio.
Gold’s company-owned gyms are freezing membership dues at no cost until the local gyms are able to reopen. Many of the locally-owned and operated Gold’s gyms are offering freeze options as well. Please contact your local gym in order to determine the status of your account. If you have not been able to reach someone at your local gym, send an email to email@example.com with your name, your gym name, your barcode number and your preferred email address. Response time may be up to ten business days based on the volume of inquiries we are receiving. We appreciate your patience.
The website mentions will be closed until the 31st but nothing about payments.
The YMCA Cares team hac contacted all members to give them the following options regarding their dues:
- Keep membership dues as they are because of the other programs the Y is still operating (primarily child care for healthcare and first responders).
- Suspend dues payments until the Y can offer the services they most use.
- Cancel membership.