This is a story of how big bullies in the industry can sometimes overwhelm you but if you stay persistent you can win your case against all odds.
Bally Total Fitness is an American fitness club chain which operates three gyms as of March 2015. In November 2011, Bally sold 171 Bally locations to competitor L.A. Fitness. In April 2012, Bally sold an additional 39 facilities to Blast Fitness.In December 2014, Bally sold most of their remaining gyms (an additional 32) to competitor 24 Hour Fitness. At its 2007 peak, prior to the filing of the first of two Chapter 11 bankruptcies, Bally operated nearly 440 facilities located in 29 U.S. states, Mexico, Canada, South Korea, China, and the Caribbean under the Bally Total Fitness, Crunch Fitness, Gorilla Sports, Pinnacle Fitness, Bally Sports Clubs, and Sports Clubs of Canada brands. The company's headquarters are located in Chicago, Illinois. "Bally Total Fitness" Wikipedia. Wikipedia.org. n.p. Web. 5 February 2016.
The problem: Click here to see why I had a problem and how bally total fitness had made my life miserable.
After an 8 month long Battle with Customer care and Membership department. I finally got out of the Contract.
Month 1: January
It was January of 2008. My fiancee, who was going to Bally Total Fitness with me as a add on member had to leave to India after finishing her studies in March.
I requested for cancellation of the membership for her. A 50 Dollar Check was required and evidence ( her one-way ticket to India) to show that she would not be near a Bally Total Fitness Centre ( 25 Mile Radius Limit – One of the ridiculous conditions in the Bally Total Fitness Contract.)
After sending a request for cancellation via Fax and then sending the same with a check by mail. ( Please note, there is no Telephone number to Bally Fitness Cancellation Department – Ridiculous!) Anyways, I did not receive any confirmation about the cancellation for over 2 months and I was being charged the total amount of 65 dollars a month. The check of 50 dollars was encashed the week I had sent the mail. This gave me a bad feeling, as there was no way I could contact the cancellation department to verify my fiance’s addon cancellation. I called the customer care. All they said was ” We will get with the cancellation department and check why it was not canceled.” )
I completed my studies and was planning to leave to India for good 3 plus months. As I was still paying for two people, unsuccessful in canceling my fiance’s membership, I though canceling the overall membership would finally cancel my contract. So I called the customer care to find out what I needed to send them.
List of Documents:
1. Leasing Document of the new Home address/ new postal forwarding slip/ new drivers license with new address.
2. A one way ticket ( as I was traveling out of the country)
Month 6: June
There I was, happy and finally thought that it will be all over. Drafted a letter, attached my one-way ticket and sent it to the Cancellation Department with a request to cancel the membership and contract and that I was traveling in July for good.
I waited for some confirmation of my cancellation but instead I received a Letter from the cancellation department that they needed my fiancee’s one-way ticket. I was furious as I had sent it long time back. It also asked for a 50 dollar in check to cancel. This was really not making sense because, I had done this in January.
Thank God!, I had all the copies of all the documents I had sent them, so I made copies of all that sent it across and also attached my one-way ticket, my parents address ( note,I did not have a leasing document because I would be living at my parents home.) and the Copy of the Check and the bank transaction. I called the member services and found that they had received all that in Jan, and then in June and also I told them, that I was sending everything again as I received that letter. The member service assured me that it will all be taken care. I left the country and was in India for 3 months.
Month 8: Sept
I got my work Visa and decided to come back. Came back and everything was good. Tried starting all my services, like Phone, Electricity etc, but I had issues, then I remembered Bally Total Fitness. We had received a bunch of mail from them and others and my friend was holding it for us. Contacted them just to check if everything was alright. First I got a message on my account that I owe them over 600 Dollars. Then my address was updated and when I spoke to the agent, told me that I owe them over 600 dollars and a balance of 2700, which I had to pay off or else my credit score would be affected. So I was glad that damage was not done yet or was it? I quickly found out that my credit score had taken a hit thanks to their reporting system. They had reported me on several different charges,
The days that followed were nothing but painful and stressful. I would call the member support almost every day, send faxes to cancellation department once every week. After sending over 10 Letters, 6 Faxes,18 calls to Bally Total Fitness in 2 months, I was finally able to get out of the contract. I read somewhere that ” Just by never giving up and sticking to your point, one can achieve a difficult goal” and this is what I did.
The Solution that worked for me:
- Writing letters once every week. Started as a Request to Cancel Letter, slowly transferred to a letter of ordering the cancellation and mention of legal action against Bally. I also made sure I sent a copy of the previous letter every time I sent a new one.
- Calling customer care and making them contact the cancellation and speaking to supervisors. Every time I called, I recorded every word I spoke and documented it.
They heard my message, I was not ready to give up. They knew that had no choice but do the right thing. In December first week, they finally canceled my contract, canceled my membership and refunded me some 12 dollars, some accounting calculation, what ever it was, I can say that the persistent calling, mailing and faxing helped!
Good Luck to you. Hope you win your case.