Bally Total Fitness Scams College Student By Swapping Contracts

Chanda signed up for a month-to-month membership at a Bally Total Fitness in Montclair, California, but when things went wrong—as they frequently do with this company—Chanda found himself signed up for a 3-year agreement. Their proof? An unsigned contract that doesn’t look like the one he was given.

This summer, I joined Bally in what I was told was a month-to-month membership. I let the membership run out, and just discovered that not only have they been automatically renewing my membership, they put me in a 36-month contract that can’t be cancelled. I felt incredibly stupid – had I not read the contract carefully enough? Etc. etc.

The copy of the contract that they gave me does indeed say that it is for 36 months, but this contract is not the same as the one I signed, and it is blank.

One of the places I would have signed, had this been the same contract, is immediately preceded by “The length of the term of this contract is 36 months…by signing below, you acknowledge [this]” in a large bold font. Even if I hadn’t read the contract at all, I would have noticed that. But because memory can always fail, and I am astounded by the stupid things I do sometimes, I checked online, and apparently this is standard business practice for them.

Bally sucks. I’m pissed. In true college-student style, I’ve handed it off to my father, who will hopefully get this mess fixed, because if not, I, along with many other people who apparently have been similarly scammed, will be out a few thousand bucks.

Chanda, if they can’t provide the contract you signed, they won’t be able to hold you to that 36-month agreement. It will be awesome if your father can resolve this for you, but it will be awesomer if you handle it yourself, because you’ll help teach this Bally Total Fitness to not assume college students are easy marks. You might want to try cheryls50’s suggestions on this Bally post from April—she recommends you send a certified letter to Bally’s corporate office and copy your state’s Attorney General on it as well. Bringing the AG into the situation should help put some weight behind your demands that Bally cancel this fraudulent 36 month membership. Be sure you make it clear that Bally must agree in writing to not report anything negative on your credit history, too.

Here’s some contact info we were able to find for mailing a letter. If you need help drafting a good letter to these guys, check out our tips on this post. (It’s for email letters, but will work for snail mail too.)

Bally Total Fitness
Don R. Kornstein, Interim Chairman
John H. Wildman, SVP Sales and Interim Chief Marketing Officer
8700 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.
Chicago, IL 60631
773-380-3000 (Phone)
773-693-2982 (Fax)

And remember to always make a copy of any contract you sign, so that in the future you can put an end to this sort of con as soon as someone tries to pull it on you.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.