Urban Active Gym Appears Lets You Cancel, Then Charges You More

Gyms are notorious for being difficult to cancel your membership at, so at first Heather thought hers was different. They even backdated the cancellation date so she wouldn’t pay for the full month. So nice! A month later, collections called her.

Heather writes:

In early May I walked to my local Urban Active gym to cancel my membership. The person I spoke to was happy to help me and it was a painless process. He backdated me to May 1, 2010 as I was so close to that date and had not used my membership in months. He did explain that I had already paid my last month when I joined so that would cover June and I could use the gym until June 30. (I have not used the facilities since sometime in January/Feb) June and July payment periods pass and I am not charged my monthly membership fee so I assume all is well. That is until July 16th when I get a call from the financial (collection) agency that represents the billing for Urban Active.

They informed me that my membership would be canceled as of August 31, 2010. When I explained that it was already canceled she told me that there must have been a problem and I needed to contact my gym. I asked her if she was calling to tell me I owed more money and she confirmed that. At that time I kind of lost it and refused to listen to any more asking to speak to a supervisor but kept getting told there was nothing they could do and I’d have to contact my gym. I hung up and immediately called the gentleman that had canceled me back in May. He told me he saw that I was canceled and that he’d call the girl he deals with and get it taken care of. He stated he would call me back no later than the following Tuesday July 20th as she was on vacation until that time. I have yet to hear back from him.

To add insult to injury I have now had two charges post to my credit card. One for $15 on July 15th which is their semi-annual “maintenance” fee and $26.80 on August 2nd which I assume is for my August membership. I have a signed paper stating my membership was canceled on May 1, 2010.

I will be contacting my local gym again, but I wanted to let you know what is going on so that you can warn your readers to be vigilant when dealing with this company. They have lost me as a member forever over this. What was a temporary cancellation due to financial reasons has now become permanent.

Thank you for your time.

-Heather

Sounds like they’re all smiles in the front room but then you got caught up in the teeth of the accounts grinder in the backroom. Hopefully they will let you work it out and call off the dogs, but if not, one word: chargeback.

Comments

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  1. digital0verdose says:

    Semi-annual “maintenance” fee? WTF?

    • Raekwon says:

      Yep this is a newer charge many gyms do now. Supposedly it is for equipment maintenance and upgrades. Not really sure what our monthly fees go to then but they get away with it. Even worse is they often don’t include it when they quote your price and only bring it up when you’ve already signed half the contract.

    • HeatherA says:

      Yeah, that’s what we all said when the started billing us 6 months after we joined. I didn’t remember the fee being in my contract but went with it until it was billed AFTER I canceled.

  2. Bakergirl says:

    Same issue, execpt I called their billing department AND backed it with a letter AND put a stop payment on that account. Worked for me…

    • tbax929 says:

      The stop payment is a really good idea. She should contact her credit card issuer and let them know that this company is NOT authorized to charge her account. She should also let them know about the unauthorized charges and send them a copy of her cancellation confirmation.

      • DariusC says:

        She doesn’t even need to send the copy of the cancellation confirmation. Tell the bank to charge it back and if the company has a problem they can take her to court. Perhaps I am wrong, but the bank has my money and if they don’t do exactly what I say wtih that money then I will press charges against them instead.

        My money, my rules.

        Although I suspect that things don’t work this way. Sigh…

      • Bakergirl says:

        That’s the way to go. And yes, YOU should get a letter from your CC company or bank confiming the stop payment. I was with Bally’s (sneaky bastards) at the time and even after I did all of that, I always checked my statement afterward. And they just mailed an offer to ‘restart my account’….I don’t think so…

  3. dismantelope says:

    Yeah, they got me with the semi-annual maintenance fee as well.

    I’m in a similar contract with them. Will be interesting to see if my cancel goes well.

  4. Putts says:

    Wow…was thinking about joining an Urban Active that recently opened up nearby but now I know to take my business elsewhere…anybody ever deal with Snap Fitness?

    • zomgorly says:

      I use Snap Fitness and its great in my area. They keep the place really clean and everyone who works there are helpful and very friendly. Since you don’t have a contract you can leave if you want to and if you need a month or two off I think there is a small fee to keep you account open. Also its 24 hours so if you want to go in at 12 AM and jog, you can. I don’t think I would but I have been there late a few nights.

    • ohiomensch says:

      I was looking for a new gym and went in to Urban Active, asked for a tour, told them I would not be signing with anyone that day as I was still in shopping around mode, they were cool about it, but then kept offering me these cheaper and cheaper deals.

      When I told them no, they said, if you walk out of here this wont be offered again, I said fine and left, 3 days later they called me and asked when I was coming in to finalize my membership. What part of no don’t they get?

      They are a nice gym with up to date equipment, everything is clean and it looks like a nice place, but I just could not get over the way they acted when I told them “not today”.

      They use very hard sell tactics, I felt like I was caught in that episode of southpark where the parents were going to the free ski weekend and could not get away from the sales people for a moments peace.

    • Martha Gail says:

      I liked Snap Fitness, except when I needed to quit due to financial reasons, the owner was very aggressive about keeping me. He kept asking me why I was quitting and when I told him I couldn’t afford it he went on and on about how I wouldn’t be able to keep up any sort of fitness routine. I told him there was plenty of sidewalk outside and a decent gym for free at my apartments. He would not relent. Finally, I told him I just wanted to get fat, at which point he signed my paper and sent me on my way.

      One of my friends who also went there told me the owner’s wife would confess to her how much financial trouble they were in. When her personal trainer left, they couldn’t afford to hire a new one, but refused to refund my friend’s $260 she had left of her pre-paid trainer fee.

    • Akanbe says:

      Been at Snap Fitness for about 2 years. It’s nice and pretty clean at my local area. There are trainers there if you have any basic questions but afaik, you are pretty much on your own other than that unless you pay for training.

      I haven’t had a problem yet. I don’t know how they are when you need to cancel, but it’s great otherwise.

  5. c!tizen says:

    This is shady business for sure on the gyms part, but lets be honest here…

    “He backdated me to May 1, 2010″
    “(I have not used the facilities since sometime in January/Feb)”
    “What was a temporary cancellation due to financial reasons has now become permanent.”

    You weren’t going back to the gym, you weren’t using it when you were paying for it. It’s no biggie, we’ve all done it, but lets not add to the chaos by pretending they were going to get your business back.

    • HeatherA says:

      This gym is right down the street from my home. After a year and a half of using my membership, I eventually stopped going regularly, since I was month to month I did not want to cancel because I felt I might return at a later time and my fees were very reasonable. Many that joined after me had to sign 2 year contracts and I was afraid I’d have to do the same thing when I returned. However, I had to cancel this spring for the financial reasons mentioned. I had hoped I’d return in the future.

  6. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    1) Charge back, clearly these should not be charged.

    2) It sounds like a break in communication between the branch and the corporate section. It also sounds like you need to wait until that woman comes back from vacation, and it’s just some buttons that need to be pushed on a computer.

  7. Bativac says:

    I’m glad my wife works for the YMCA and gets us free use of all their in-town locations. I’ve heard nothing but horror stories regarding gym contracts.

  8. ssm316 says:

    I found with Urban Active the only way to cancel is to have your bank put a block on the account and dispute charges. Had to do that when I moved and there was no locations within 25 miles and they kept charging me.

  9. Gruppa says:

    Wait, I’m confused. If they are posting charges to a (apparently valid) credit card, why would a collections agency be calling?

    • HeatherA says:

      That’s a great question. One I asked AFTER I hung up the phone with the girl. It didn’t make sense to me, but had they billed me I would have found out much earlier that they had not canceled my membership and could have taken action sooner.

  10. Jon7 says:

    Gyms seem to be notorious for billing problems. I used to be a member at Pure Fitness where they require that you give them a voided check for direct withdraw for your membership dues.
    So I’m a member for a few months and suddenly, I get a letter from them threatening to turn me over to collections if I don’t pay. Since they had my check AND credit card on file, I was a little confused. So I called and they said that they must have typed in my bank account incorrectly and they’d fix it.
    Next month, another threatening letter. I call again, same story: “Our fault, we’ll fix it.” After the third letter (the “final” notice) threatening to turn me over to collections, I called and demanded that they stop harassing me immediately. Turns out that they’d fired their calling employee and outsourced billing to a totally incompetent company. Finally, after months of letters, they fixed the problem, but it was too late to keep me as a customer.
    I just can’t stand it when businesses are too incompetent to take your money…

  11. coren says:

    I’m confused. If your cancelation was backdated to May 1, 2010 – why had you already paid for May (I can see this if payment is due before the month of use is up) and June – and why did you have access to (whether or not you used it) the facilities through June 30? Should they not have refunded you anything paid for beyond May 1 and called it a day? I’ve never been a member at a gym so perhaps I just don’t understand something?

    • HeatherA says:

      I’m not sure why they worked it that way, but the gentleman I canceled with told me that my last charge would be the one already billed for May. My last month fee covered June and said I could use the facilities until the end of June. I just chalked it up to me not getting up there before May 1st to cancel my membership. I figured that was just the way things were.

  12. DanRydell says:

    Sounds like a simple mixup and they’re going to fix it. Simmer down.

    • HeatherA says:

      I hope so Dan. Seems shady to me not to bill me for 2 months of “membership” and then out of the blue change my cancel date to 4 months later and start billing me again.

  13. kevinfromohio says:

    Before I start this, no I’m not just some bitter ex-patron of Urban Active. The Better Business Bureau has Urban Active’s rating a “D+”. That just shows you the lack of management of this company.

    Urban Active is the shadiest corporation and has the most unprofessional staff I have ever seen! I signed up for personal training and a gym membership at the same time. My first problems started with my personal trainer. He would no show/no call on me at least once a week. When I talked to management all they said was “Well just switch to another trainer” That’s really professional! I wonder what kind of attendance policy they have? My trainer told me illness was his excuse. Guess what? He was working out in the gym a couple hours later! Not to mention I saw other trainers actually pointing and making fun of an overweight people in the gym! Don’t expect any college education or more from there trainers, do expect the jock that lives at the local trailer park.

    Billing is horrid as well. Everyone knows when you get a renewed credit card, the number stays the same just with a new expiration date. All my automatic billings from cell phone to car insurance kept being charged. Urban Active charged me a late fee for not “updating the credit card” What BS! The customer service manager is usually some twenty year old girl that got her job from the married older club manager (if you get my drift). So don’t expect any help there. (They just switched there billing company because of the number of problems)

    The gym itself has no upkeep. It has been over a month and the air conditioning in the cardio theater has yet to be fixed so its literally so hot you can pass out. A month and you seriously can’t get the air fixed during the summer? And don’t forget you get to pay a $15 gym maintenance fee twice of year for this kind of great upkeep.

    All in all the hassle of this place is not worth it. No the YMCA doesn’t have the cool looking gym, but at least the people that work there are trustworthy and you never have a problem with billing. I ended up happy with the trainer I finished with, but really for the cost just get a book and you can learn to lift weights yourself. In summary: Urban active sucks, customer service staff are idiots, the personal training is overpriced and most of the trainers are unqualified, and the billing issues will drive you insane. ,

  14. Tedra says:

    Im trying to quit my Urban Active membership with tanning as well. Its almost impossible!
    When I first signed on, they said you can cancel at any time, just come in and fill out paperwork no problem.

    Within the last year or so that has changed (i know because i have canceled my tanning previously, as well as the child care)

    now you must print out applications from the website (which is like a scavenger hunt, the staff at the local gym wont provide you with any, so you must have a printer!)

    then you have to send it registered and certified mail!!!

    plus provide $10 bucks for each cancellation! something that again was not informed to me, when we signed up!

    if its for medical reasons (hey i dont want to tan anymore! for skin cancer scare )I must provide medical proof or a letter from my dr?! wth?

    if its a move, you have to provide proof that you moved, like a lease!

    Why the major hoops to cancel something that they themselves said would be an easy thing to do!

    they all lie

    3 years ago I bought Personal training sessions i still have 14 left, and was told at the time (by the manager himself) that they roll over when my membership expires Ill never lose them, wrong! I had surgery, and since i didnt use them at all in a 6month period, i have to buy more sessions (cheapest was 65 bucks amonth and another contract!)

    and this twice a year “maintenance” fee is a joke! i counted at least 8 treadmills that the tv or volume does not work, about 6 of the stair climbers as well. several had no safety clip on them, there are missing or broken tiles through out the place.

    half the clocks are missing or are just wrong!

    when it rains there are always leaks

    and they cut waaaay back on the cleaning crew, infact for 4 days straight i saw the same piece of chewing gum on the floor by the treadmills, and it was never picked up.

    I now have to call my bank to cancel payments to this gym because i so know that the “letter” wont be received and ill keep getting charged over and over.

    and by the way good luck trying to talk to anyone at the corporate office. The only numbers provided give you to the local gym that you go to, and, there is no manager to speak to or to complain too.

    Id love to print this up and send someone a letter about their shitty company but i cant find an address.

  15. Art H. says:

    If there is another charge after you notify them in writing and by certified mail, I suggest you consider a lawsuit for violation of Fair Debt Collection Act, Credit Card Fraud, and as they probably do this to many people, an additionsl suit for Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act. If they are using your cr. card number, possibly even Idenity theft.

  16. Art H. says:

    If there is another charge after you notify them in writing and by certified mail, I suggest you consider a lawsuit for violation of Fair Debt Collection Act, Credit Card Fraud, and as they probably do this to many people, an additionsl suit for Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act. If they are using your cr. card number, possibly even Idenity theft.

  17. Joe P says:

    Guanteed you DO NOT WANT to do business with Urban Active. We didn’t even hear about the $20 cancellation fee until we went to cancel. They charge $15.00 in June and December for each member as a seperate fee. The fee is SUPPOSED to be used for facility upkeep, but I suspect it’s the executive management bonus fund. Manager at the Omaha store is a complete asshole. Most of their male employees just walk around hitting on the cute female customers. Some equipment stayed broken for 9 months. Most of the treadmills and recombinant bikes were busted in one way or another. They have nearly 700 complaints of fraudulent billing over the last three years (Better Business Bureau, with about 300 still active cases) They are being sued in the state of Ohio in Class Action Lawsuit.