Almost a year ago I posted here about our experience with a certain Gold's Gym. (I say certain because I've had experiences with other Gold's Gyms that were perfectly pleasant. *grin*)
Basically, my husband got a membership for himself and I in July or so of last year. A membership I never actually used, but that doesn't really pertain much to this story. For those unfamiliar with the wiles of the gym, most gym's know that you are probably not going to use their services with any sort of regularity. Which means you'll probably stop paying. So, you are required to sign a contract and give them either a credit card number or your checking account number so they can draft money out of your account every month. Actually, it's kind of a racket when you think about it. *grin*
Anyway, about two months after we got the membership, I went to check our bank balance and noticed that we were in the negative. A quick look revealed that our gym fees had come out, which I had budgeted for. What I had not budgeted for was the fact that they took them out twice. A call was placed to politely ask them what in the hell they were doing. The person on the phone was short, aggressive and seemed to imply that we were incredibly rude for having the audacity to request that they put the extra money back. That should have been my first warning. Three guesses as to whether or not we were compensated for the overdraft fees.
We continued on. The next month things went as planned. The month after that, once again more money was taken out than was supposed to be taken. Except this time it wasn't double drafts of our gym fees. Now it was our regular draft of gym fees and then two separate drafts for random amounts of money. /boggle
Another call was placed to the gym who blamed their processing company which apparently is some sort of alien entity and said that it was probably a mistake and they would fix it. And they did. A week later.
The next month it happened again. Double drafts of our gym fees. Another call, another bitchy person who seemed outraged that we asked for our money back.
This continued on for several more months until January. In January, we had the drafts for our gym fees and then another two drafts for random excessive amounts of money. A phone call back again revealed that that was their yearly "upkeep and maintenance" fee that all members are charged. It is used to update the equipment and repair equipment. (Gee, I thought that was what the gym fees were for in the first place?) When my husband pointed out that how much they took out was way more than he was originally quoted when he got the memberships, he was basically told that "things change" and that he was going to have to accept that.
We're a family that lives on a budget. This is not an acceptable answer and we had gotten to the point where this was no longer something we could stand for. We went up there to tell them that something was going to have to be done. My husband told them that because of all of these instances (which they admitted to at the time) he no longer trusted them to have any sort of access to our checking account (for the curious, we do not own a credit card and intend never to do so). He told them that they were no longer allowed to draft money out of the account, but he would be more than happy to pay them at the beginning of the month in cash.
He was told that this was unacceptable. My husband then explained that he felt they had violated the contract because they had frequently taken out more money than was allowed in the contract. They told him that things happen. My husband told them that things would not happen anymore. Things happen once, maybe twice. Things do not happen every month for 6 months. He once again offered to pay them outright and he was very rudely denied. And told it would not be accepted.
We left, talked to our awesome lady at the bank who said that in the long run it would just be cheaper to close the account and start a new one. We did so. And obviously didn't go back to the gym.
You know what's coming, right? Once they could no longer get money out of the account the collections letters started. Trying to charge us an exhorbant amount of money to cover the fees for the next year and a half we had left in our contract, but didn't actually add up. We ignored them. I mean, we've gotten lots of collection notices in the past all of them hospital bills for way more money than this was (why is it hospitals tell you that you can pay a little bit at every month and then send you to collections anyway) and have never actually had anything come of them.
Well, not this time.
8:00 on Thursday morning a sheriff pulled up and knocked on our door. It was a summons. My husband and I are required to show up in small claims court on November 6. What the hell? I mean, we have separate accounts for starters and to the gym, we're separate entities. (We have been called to court separately as well.) But it kills me that they're bringing us to small claims court for $512. (How much it would cost to be members for the 18 months we had left.)
I'm not terribly worried, we've got the collection notices with the fees that don't add up, I'm headed to the bank next week to get copies of our bank statements showing the extra drafts and the drafts for extra money (we don't get our statements mailed to us) and with all that, we're hoping that will be enough to make the judge realize why we were forced to do what we did. We simply couldn't face the possibility of overdraft charges that were never recovered.
But still...small claims court. For unpaid gym fees. For services that we will never use and have never used. It's not like hospital bills where you've had excessive services rendered and the hospital really needs to recoup the money to pay for what you used and labor and whatnot. I can totally see that. But court for gym fees? Wow. Somebody has way too much free time.
I discovered back when this all started happening that we weren't the only one's with this problem. Several of my customer's had the problem at well. And several of my more affluent customer's didn't really notice that they had paid quite a bit more money until months and months later because they never checked their credit card balance and just paid the bill every month no matter what it was. I've wondered if this is some kind of scheme or something.
Unfortunately, I have no idea where to get ahold of these people as I haven't seen them since I stopped working at that place. Too bad, that could really come in handy.