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Anytime Fitness: A Bogus Cancellation Policy

Company Anytime Fitness
Product / Service Fitness Club
Location Clarksburg, West Virginia
Category Fitness Centers
Views 1545
Monetary Loss
$41
 

I signed up at the Anytime Fitness (club 1596) in Waukesha, WI (901 Meadowbrook Road) on 4/20/09. The contract stated that I was signing up for 15 months. I paid in full on my credit card: an amount of $486.11. As per the written contract, this membership ended on 7/20/10. I used the fitness center for about 8 months, then I bought some of my own equipment to put in my house and I stopped going to the fitness center sometime around 12/09.

I pretty much forgot about the membership until I got a packet in the mail from ABC Financial Services on 7/6/10. They decided to extend my contract and switch my billing to monthly statements.

I immediately called ABC Financial Services and they told me I needed to call the local club to handle membership cancellations. I called the local club office and spoke to Stephanie Stencil. She, along with the owner, had originally signed me up for the contract back in April. She stated that I had not given 30 days notice of cancellation and that this cancellation should have been in writing. Therefore, she was extending my membership to 8/19/10 and charging me $41.95. I went looking for my contract to find out where this 30 day policy was. I read the contract back and front. No where was a 30 day cancellation policy stated.

I decided to e-mail Deb Kneser at dkneser@wi.rr.com. Deb is one of the owners of the club that sends out monthly club newsletters from her RoadRunner account to all club members. I sent her the following message:

You are one of the owners of this establishment, correct?
I would like to discuss where in my contract I have to give 30 days
notice of cancellation or get charged $41.95. I have read the front and
back of my contract and the only terms it deals with is if I move away
or if the Club closes.

I paid a year in full and according to my contract (pink copy), my
contract expires 7/20/10. Why is my contract being extended to 8/20/10?
I have not used the club for the past 7 months. I calculate this $226
for not using any of your services.

Why can't you cancel my contact and we call it even? Even if there was
a cancellation fee, it should be $32.40 since the original term was 15
months @ $486.11.

Please let me know when either you or Kerri are available to discuss
this matter in person. I can come after 5PM Monday through Friday.

Thanks,
Adam

That e-mail was sent the night of 7/6/09. I waited the next two days, expecting an apology about the mix-up and cancellation of my membership without the $41.95 charge. I went into the club the night of 7/8/10, not hearing anything from Deb. I spoke to an older gentlemen and asked him when Kerry, the husband of Deb and co-owner of the club, when he would be in. He told me within 1 week, but that I could leave my name and my phone number and that Kerry usually visits the club on a daily basis to check in.

I did not hear from Kerry at all until I got an e-mail on 7/14/10:

Hi Adam,

I will try to address ALL of your concerns:

First, when you signed up in April we were offering "Three Free Months"
(which you received), that's why the membership was for 15 months;
therefore, your calculation of $32.40 is incorrect.

Second, at the time of signing every member is told about the "Renewal
Program" and the thirty day notice we need in order to cancel. If you
recall, there are three options a person has at their disposal; 1)
cancel w/30 day notice, 2) continue on a month to month basis, or 3)
take advantage of any other specials that we may have at that time. A
thirty day notice is very common in this industry as well as others.

Third, your analogy of potentially losing $226.00 for not using the club
is a choice that you made. We can not force members to workout. The
club was and is available to all of our members 24/7!

Fourth, the cxl clause regarding moving or if the club should close its
doors is correct. You'll also notice that there is an early cxl fee of
$50.00 as well.

Now, this email is not an attempt to discredit you or cause ill feelings
towards one another. It is an attempt to answer your questions from my
point of view as a business owner. I have worked with many members who
have had issues come up in their lives and we do our best to make the
situation a win-win for everyone involved. Therefore, I'm willing to do
a couple of things for you in an attempt to satisfy your situation.

1) If you would like to continue your membership on a month to month
basis I will reduce your monthly dues to $34.95 per month starting in
August.

2) Once we receive your July 20th payment of $41.95 I will personally
cancel your membership. You will still have use of the club until
August 19, 2010.

I've attached the "official" letter from our billing vendor (ABC
Financial) so you have a copy for your records. If you have any
questions please feel free to call, email, or stop in.

I hope this answers your questions. Please let us know what you decide
so we can set the process in motion.

Thanks,

Kerry

As you can see from this e-mail, there is absolutely no compromise on his part (win-win: where?). He already knew I wanted to cancel, so why he would offer to extend my membership at a reduced rate is behind me. Do I remember what was verbally said 15 months ago? No and neither does he. I sent the following reply to him at both his club and home e-mail addresses:

I will bring $42 in cash tomorrow after 5PM. Since you are in tomorrow,
I would like a letter with your official Anytime Fitness letterhead with
my name, my account number, that I have paid $41.95, that this is my
final payment and that my membership is cancelled. I would like you
then to sign it and staple a receipt to the letter.

You know as a business man that anything said verbally isn't really good
for anything. That's why contracts were made. I made this contract 15
months ago and haven't been to your club for 7 months.
I never said I lost $226, but I have not put wear on your equipment,
used your electric, your water, etc. I'm still trying assess what your
damages are, whether I give you 2 weeks or 4 weeks notice.
I'm sure you've checked my FOB history and seen I haven't stepped foot
on your premises in 2010. However, you insist on extending my
membership 1 extra month knowing I won't use it.

Now I am where you are coming from. Thank you for putting this in
writing.

Adam

The next morning I decided to call the corporate headquarters of Anytime Fitness to see if they could intercede on my behalf in this situation. I spoke to a Tracy Lefebvre around 8:30AM on 7/15/10. The only thing Tracy could do she stated was call the owner and have the owner call me. I told her I was already going to visit the owner that night and that he was not backing down. She repeated this "solution" over and over, eventually saying that she would request a copy of contract from Kerry. When I asked her what would happen when she wouldn't find the 30 day clause, she said "I can't comment until I see the contract".

I asked her what her direct extension was so I could back to find out what the results of the investigation were, then she asked why I would call her when the club owner would call me. It was clear talking to her that she did not want to get involved past having the club owner call me.

On Thursday, 7/15, I went in at 5:30PM and spoke to Kerry. I asked for my cancellation letter. He claimed that his e-mail account was down on his Anytime Fitness account. He also claimed that he did not get my e-mails from the night before and that kkneser@wi.rr.com was not his address, but kkneser1@wi.rr.com was. Being in IT for 12 years, this sounded like a load of ***, since Roadrunner e-mail can be checked from any Internet browser and his Internet was working at the club and the e-mail was sent to this address and his wife's.

He then asked if I wanted the cancellation letter sent by e-mail and I told him I was staying all night if I had to: I wanted this taken care of tonight and in person. I asked him to craft a letter on his club's letterhead with my cancellation request and receipt of the money. He started typing this letter out. For whatever reason, when he heard I was paying with cash, he aborted his letter and again went back to the ABC "Secondary Status" cancellation letter that he already sent to my e-mail 2 times before with the $41.95 amount.

He seemed to be on his agenda again, never asking which letter I wanted. I'm sure he didn't care. I asked him to sign the bottom of the letter which he did. He wasn't really rude during my interaction with him, but he does give off an "air of arrogance".

On Friday 7/16/10, I contacted ABC Financial to produce a history of my payments and after 8/19/10, a final cancellation letter. According to the representative Shoshanna, Mr. Kneser should not be able to bill me anymore.

Since Tracy would not do anything for me, I thought maybe someone above her might be able to. Through some Internet searching, I happened upon some internal Anytime Fitness PDFs called "Success Packs". These packs were described as a "newsletter for Anytime Fitness franchise owners". I found the e-mail addresses of high level executives such Jeff Klinger and Chuck Runyon. With more digging, I found that Jeff had left the company (probably the best move in his career) and that Chuck had taken over as CEO. His e-mail is chuck@anytimefitness.com. The document was 5 years old, but on a whim I e-mailed him with all of the information at hand and scanned copies of my documentation. A week went by and nothing from our friend Chuck. I decided to e-mail him yet again and then I got a call and e-mail from a Janet M. Willett (janet.w@anytimefitness.com, 651-438-5057). Her title is listed as Customer Solutions Manager. She proceeded to tell me there was nothing she could do: Mr. Kneser is an independent owner of this club and he can do what he wants.

She proceeded to tell me that he faxed a copy of the contract and that there was a cancellation clause on the contract. I asked her if she read the contract herself instead of just listening to Kneser: it was a cancellation policy relating to the club closing or getting a pro-rated refund if I moved away from Anytime Fitness. Neither of these applied in this case. I could hear her getting upset with hems and haws in her voice (did she think she could bluff me?), with her final proclamation: " it's his club and he can do what he wants: that's it".

If you look at their web site, specifically http://www.anytimefitness.com/en-us/corporate/contact, they have this:

I want to report a specific issue with a club.
To report a specific issue with a club (e.g., great service, cleanliness, poor service), or if you can't reach anyone at your home club, please contact:
Anytime Fitness Corporate Offices
"¢ Hours: Monday - Friday | 8:00am - 5:00pm (Central)
"¢ Phone: 800-704-5004 (toll-free) | (651) 438-5000 (direct)

The question is clear: if the local club owner can do anything he wants, why even put that on your corporate web site? Janet must have the best job in the world: blame the local club owner when ever anything comes up. She doesn't have to solve any issue, ever…just blame, blame, blame someone else!

I opened a case with the local BBB in Wisconsin and played ping-pong with Mr. Kneser with pretty much a copy and paste response as he did back in July. Looking at the 30 Anytime Fitness clubs in Wisconsin, only 2 of them are BBB accredited and the ratings for each are either B+ or F, meaning they are OK or just down right horrible. I figure that most people just pay the fee and be on their merry way.

Anytime Fitness has taught me a very valuable lesson: NEVER EVER SIGN UP FOR A GYM MEMBERSHIP, EVER! I even saw a $19.95/month Golds Gym membership signup at work a few days and I just laughed. Take out a loan and get your own equipment or find a gym that takes cash with no contracts (yeah, good luck with that).


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Mar 18 
Same thing happened to me employee completely misrepresented the contract and cancelation policy (flat out lied) at the Delavan,WI anytime fitness owned by A. Hathaway and she just said Oh well didn't even apologize.
Reply to Anonymous

Mar 01 
Anytime Fitness Point Pleasant NJ is a stolen business I know because I paid for it with the agreement with the owners, Janice Lauria and her husband William Lauria, they took me and my husband for a quarter of a million dollars and ran! They collect their money every month with not a single payment back to repay their debt. They have a $219,686.00 judgment against them and lawsuits to follow. They are losers I want to spread the word! Do not help them pay for their next planned vacation this November!
Reply to dfortkiewicz

Jul 21, 2013  from Houston, Texas
What I don't understand is how the public cannot cancel their membership online in the 21st century.

I went on a 13 month deployment and return to find out that anytime fitness in Houston, TX still charges me from membership even though I tired to cancel 13 months in a row.

I swear with anytime fitness was a terrorist I would have gut you a long time ago.

Bastards, your business practices remind me of America Online. I can't believe we have to write a letter to have our membership cancelled.
Reply to I hate you anytime fitness

Apr 03, 2013  from Mountain Home, Arkansas
This place is a joke do not take out a LOAN TO GET A GYM MEMBERSHIP!!!!!!!!! THE MANAGER IS CHRIS HE IS A SMART MOUTH PUNK AND THE TRAINERS ARE NOT CERTIFIED!!! YOU HAVE TO SIGN A RELEASE SO IF YOU PAY 30 A HOUR TO A *** TO TRAIN SHE DOESN'T KNOW WHAT SHE IS DOING IF YOU GET INJURED YOU ARE SCREWED!!! THIS PLACE IS A ***!!!
Reply to John

Sep 18, 2012 
MO smoke alot of something potent. Ps Anytime fitness is the number 1 fitness franchise in the WORLD. Looks like a sustainable business model to me
Reply to Ken Wisenhunt

Aug 27, 2012 
One thing to remember guys as a member of a franchised gym is that Chuck doesnt own them and cannot control a lof of what the owners do. Most in our area are doing a great job now. But what one does shouldnt reflect on the other.
Reply to Sarah

Aug 27, 2012 
i am a member in Australia and we can either pay in full (without them recording credit card details) or pay via direct debit. If paying in full it just ends when the date comes to renew. Otherwise yes a 15 month contract on direct debit will continue after the minimum term but then i can cancel whenever i want. Sounds dodgy to me....
Reply to Sarah

Aug 14, 2012 
I understand the frustration when you have a problem and no one at the company you have it with wants to help ...or at the very least seems to try and help.
I won't try and pretend that I know what was on your particular contract but if I have been a member of several gyms in my lifetime and as memory serves all of them have cancellation stipulations. And I will be the 1st to say they don't make it easy. You have to be very aware of when you signed up and when your contract runs out. They all convert to month to month and they will bill your credit card or debit card. This is why they ask for a CC when you sign up even if you prepay. You want to cancel? Sure put it on writing and be sure and give 30 days...sometimes 60 days notice.
Yes I own a Anytime Fitness and yes I am in it to make money as are all people in business. I believe you have to be ethical and I make it a point to stress the cancellation clause. I even highlight it for my clients. But people forget, people mis-remember conversations but I NEVER not take their calls. They are not always pleasant but I do want to honestly fix the situation.
Did you get screwed? Maybe, maybe not but 1 thing is for sure you got to be made to feel like you got cheated. No business should make any customer feel this way.
I hope you have a better experience in the future.
Reply to Anytime Franchise owner

Mar 14, 2011 
Yea i have def had big issues with customer service in Florida and not all of them....There were misinformation about contracts, there were screaming and yelling at customers by the staff for *** reasons (mentally unstable) and when complained we were given excuses and NEVER an apology. Customer care really breaks or makes a business and eventually this gym is going down because when we came in to complain, they thought we were some other people that had called and complained too about the SAME person. Ridiculous.
Reply to Poor customer service ANYTIME

Feb 06, 2011 
As well written as this MAY have been it is inaccurate and slanderous. When my name comes up on a Google search for something this ridiculous and false it reaffirms how ludicrous these complaint websites are because Kerry, Deb, and myself were not contacted to confirm the legitimacy of this STORY. People try to get out of contracts all the time, they try to cheat and lie their way out of their obligation... you signed it and you were made aware of the cancellation policy when you signed the agreement. Because you "forgot" to cancel your agreement it was automatically extended, as you were told it would be. It is really sad when people abuse the internet in this way! Keep in mind that the internet can also be used to find attorneys that handle slander cases...
Reply to Stephanie Stencil

Feb 02, 2011 
It seems like paying the $41.95 and moving on with your life would have made the most sense. Sounds like a lot of wasted time and energy that went into trying to avoid the fee and the subsequent review. If you had no problem throwing away money for 7 months of non usage, who cares about 1 more month? The time it took for all this had to have been worth more than $41.95 to you, right?
Reply to Roe

Nov 06, 2010  from Sha Tin, Hong Kong (Sar)
It's time to write Chuck Runyon, CEO of Anytime Fitness in regards to this situation. To insure he receives it, please use both emails below.

chuck@anytimefitness.com
janet.w@anytimefitness.com
Reply to TIME TO EMAIL CHUCK

Aug 29, 2010 
Blah blah blah blah blah!
Reply to MO

Aug 28, 2010  from Sha Tin, Hong Kong (Sar)
Mo, you have left no doubt about your stupidity....for those readers who would like to pass on Mo's "corporate" posts, scroll down to BEND OVER, ANYTIME and read what is really happening with this unsustainable business model.
Reply to MO IS DELIRIOUS,READ BELOW

Aug 26, 2010 
I'm sure the CEO has better things to do with his time. Me--again just a regular person that enjoys reading about people's stupidty. But, you wouldn't understand 'cause you're an *** too.
Reply to MO

Aug 25, 2010  from Sha Tin, Hong Kong (Sar)
Right, you are not a corporate rep, franchisee, employee or have any other vested interest at Anytime Fitness? You just wander through pissedconsumer to randomly find entities or people to defend? Chuck Runyon CEO, you have to do better than that!
Reply to NICE TRY MO...OR IS IT CHUCK?

Aug 24, 2010 
sorry fools...I am not the owner of an Anytime Fitness....just a regular person who enjoys reading other people's stupidity and then thinking they're so cool posting complaints online. you people who can't read and then try to blame other people are such LOSERS!!!! BE RESPONSIBLE!!!!
Reply to MO

Aug 24, 2010  from Sha Tin, Hong Kong (Sar)
Anytime is the right time to bend over! All owners of Anyime Fitness franchises attended and "graduated" from Anytime University and may have been directly trained by Chuck Runyon. Several Anytime Fitness franchisees have left members high and dry as well as not honoring the franchise policies. They got screwed and they are just "paying it forward". Chuckie has taught them well...
IT'S ALL ABOUT MAKING $$$. The owners of 24 hour club franchises got sucked into it and are learning the hard way about how weak the Anytime Fitness business model is and how much corporate support they will not receive. As soon as they realize they cannot break even and will be subsidizing the business and see no end in sight, the real fun begins for the members! Corporates are making BANK while franchisees are wiping out. Recession proof? RIGHT! Profitable? RIGHT! Easy? RIGHT! Hear that? It's the circling sound around the drain. Won't be long now for a lot of these 24 hour fitness club franchisees!
To learn more about Anytime Fitness and their business practices, go to "Anytime Fitness or Snap Fitness" at BlueMauMau.
Reply to BEND OVER, ANYTIME.....

Aug 23, 2010 
I like that the complainant is so well spoken. I too am a member of A.F. here in Va beach. I personally love it, mostly because I am not spoken to, ever, the way this "anonymous MO/Curly" owner of your ex-club is. Seems really scummy. I support you in this. But you sound intelligent, and therefore you should know this happens all the time with apartments, gym memberships etc. Keep fighting the good fight though, because even though it's common, it's not right. P.s. Good for you for taking the high road, you ex-club owner kinda sounds like an ***. But what do I know. Good luck Groucho.
Reply to This whole thing is tacky...

Aug 23, 2010 
Do you not know how to read a contract? What the heck is wrong with you? People like you should not be allowed out of the house for fear of what other dumb sh*t you will do or post online. Get a padded room you fool.
Reply to GROUCHOMARX IS AN IDIOT
 

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