Ashoka just found out that Bally never canceled his membership, even though they cashed his $50 cancellation check a mere 5 days after he mailed it to them last year. They’ve said there was no date on the paperwork, but Ashoka has a printout that proves otherwise. And they said they tried to contact him last year about the “problem,” but not by phone—even though they called him promptly this month when he changed his credit card info and the automatic billing didn’t go through. Bally, just admit it: nobody gets out, ever.
Here’s Ashoka’s story:
On January 2007, I moved back to my residence in Daytona Beach,FL from Boca Raton, FL. In finishing up my loose ends, I needed to cancel my Bally’s Membership as there is not a Bally’s within a 25 mile radius to where I live. I made it a priority to take care of the gym membership issue as I had troubles with Bally’s before. [We cut this backstory for length, but it involved a billing issue between Bally's and Crunch. -Ed.]
On January 5, 2007, I sent in a cancellation payment and proof of relocation in the form of a telephone bill to Bally Total Fitness as I moved back to Daytona. I never received a confirmation of cancellation by mail. However, Bally Total Fitness did cash my check on January 10, 2007. I assumed that my account was canceled. However, I made a serious mistake in believing that and I should have known better.
Bally’s has been billing my credit card for over 15 months now for a service that I have not utilized since January 2007. They have been billing me without my knowledge. I should have looked at my statement closer – shocking to me. I was notified about this situation by Bally’s as they called me in regards to payment as I changed credit cards.
When I discussed the situation with the Bally’s Rep, I was told that the cancellation bill I sent did not have a date on it. I find this very absurd as I was able to print a copy of the bill from ATT and the date is in the top right corner of the bill.
What really infuriates me about this situation is that Bally’s still cashed my cancellation check and kept billing my credit card at the same time. They stated they notified me by mail about the cancellation not taking effect, but I have never received any correspondence about cancellation from Bally’s. I find it appalling that they can easily make a call and contact me about payment, but not about the cancellation of my membership.
When I asked for a refund from Bally’s for a service that I have clearly not used and canceled that totals over $950.00, I was told that they will have to investigate it. The Rep continued on with the path that I owe past due payments and they will continue to collect these payments until the issue has been investigated. The rep told me to put together a letter about the issue and proof of bill from Dates of cancellation. I immediately faxed this over to Bally’s. When I then called to confirm they received the fax, I was told that I would need to check back in 2 WEEKS and that the process will take an additional 30 days from the date they have logged receipt of the fax.
I find this very absurd and infuriating because it is a total scam in Bally’s trying to charge for additional months of service and rip off their customers. I feel totally victimized over this situation and really have no idea of what course of action that I have other than waiting on Bally’s to first confirm they received my fax and then on the decision of weather they cancel my membership and refund me my money all the while I am continually been billed by Bally Total Fitness. What happens if I need to correspond further about how they respond to my proof, will that be another 30 days?….I HATE BALLY TOTAL FITNESS! This is by far the worst company I have ever done business with.
Is there anything else I can do?
Here are some ideas:
1. Contact your credit card company’s fraud department and explain that the company has billed you for 15 months after you explicitly revoked their authorization, and explain that you have proof in the form of a canceled check. Even if this doesn’t meet your card’s definition of fraud, you should be able to charge back 2 or more of the most recent monthly charges by contesting them.
2. Do you have any lawyer friends? Das Ubergeek wrote on an earlier Bally’s post that “a nicely-worded nastygram via certified mail from a lawyer friend” helped him get a huge chunk of unauthorized fees canceled. Since it’s only $950, paying for a lawyer might be more than you’re willing to spend right now, but you could likely speed up Bally’s correction process with some legal help.
3. Read up on your rights at the Florida Attorney General’s Health Studios page. Unfortunately, a cursory reading of your state’s Health Studio Act indicates it mostly addresses gyms that go out of business or try to sell “lifetime” memberships. At the very least, they have a phone number you can call for more information on your rights: 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352).
4. Consider taking them to small claims court to recover your fees.
5. Start reviewing your credit card statements every month! Or hell, at the very least, every couple of months. You only have so long to contest most charges.
6. And finally, never sign up with Bally’s again, and be sure to tell everyone you know that they really, really suck.
Readers, any other/better suggestions?
“Bally Total Fitness Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy”
“Bally’s Tele-Customer Service Blows”
(Photo: cameronparkins and .Bala)