Consumers Say Health Club Misled Them - NBC Bay Area
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NBC Bay Area Responds Archive

Consumers Say Health Club Misled Them

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Consumers say a local health club sold them one thing, but billed them for something more expensive. And it put them on the hook for thousands of dollars. Chris Chmura reports.

    (Published Wednesday, June 28, 2017)

    Eager to step up his fitness routine, Dan Seoane joined Fitness Evolution and signed up for the gym’s personal training.

    “I thought it’d be best to get some personal training sessions, so that I could really understand what I should be doing,” Seoane said.

    Seoane says a trainer sold him a 24-session package to be paid in three installments of $485. He made his first payment that day.

    Seoane says high trainer turnover and scheduling conflicts made it tough to get the one-on-one workouts he wanted. After several weeks, he’s had only four. Then the gym dropped a bombshell.

    “They said - oh yeah, you’re behind on your billing, so you owe us $1,800,” Seoane said.

    Seoane says Fitness Evolution told him he didn’t buy a 24-session trainer package, but a three-month package, that automatically converted to a monthly membership if he didn’t cancel. Seoane agreed to this when he signed the contract on a tablet. But he insists this is not what he was verbally sold.

    “It’s a rip off, it’s bait and switch,” said Seoane.

    Susan Lambert has a similar story.

    “I’ve gone from frustrated to angry,” said Lambert.

    Lambert says a trainer sold her eight personal training sessions for $480. But weeks later, Fitness Evolution told Lambert she owed the gym nearly $2,000. She had also signed a contract on a tablet, and it enrolled her in a six month membership for personal training that automatically converted to a monthly membership if she didn’t cancel. Susan insists this is not what she was verbally sold.

    We’re both retired, I would never sign up for something that’s $480 a month,” said Lambert. “That’s insane!”

    Lambert and Seoane say Fitness Evolution insisted they pay. And they’re not alone. We heard from three other consumers who had similar billing problems. The Better Business Bureau has received complaints, too. It’s given Fitness Evolution an F rating.

    “I absolutely apologize,” said Becca Wall, vice president of operations at Fitness Evolution. “I don’t want anybody to be frustrated with the service they’re receiving.”

    Wall insists the gym never misleads consumers about what they’re signing.

    “That’s not something that we as a company would ever allow within our business, is to tell people things that are not true and do it intentionally,” said Wall. 

    Wall says the gym has made changes to its contracts - increasing font size and adding bold print - so it’s clearer to consumers what they’re signing.

    We asked to see the new contracts. The general membership contract does have these changes, but the personal training contract doesn’t. That leaves Lambert offering consumers some advice.

    “Be very careful,” said Lambert.

    Fitness Evolution dropped both Seoane and Lambert’s outstanding balances, and refunded them for unused training sessions. It also refunded money to other consumers who reached out to us. In all, that totaled $3,500.

    If you’re feeling rushed into signing a contract on a tablet, ask for a printed copy and demand some time to read through it before you sign.

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