Texas’ Attorney General Greg Abbott is going after Bally Total Fitness for the fraudulent “past due” scheme it was using to trick former customers into re-upping with the gym. The AG office says that the gym mailed more than 11,000 fake notices to former customers between last summer and March 2010, and at least 1,000 Texans fell for it and paid the fees.
The Attorney General notes that this wasn’t merely an ill-conceived direct mail campaign, because the notices deliberately included a threatening warning on the back:
According to court documents filed by the state, Bally’s notices claimed that recipients owed at least one month’s overdue fees – fees for which the notice demanded immediate payment. Some of Bally’s past due notices even claimed that failure to remit a payment could result in a negative entry on the former members’ credit reports.
We had a reader send us one of the fake past due notices last September, so you can see for yourself how the “bill” looks.
Texas is looking for a $20,000 civil penalty for each violation of the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act, plus restitution for Texans who were misled and paid the gym. The Attorney General is also asking that any other Texans who were suckered by the notice call the AG office at 1-800-252-8011 or file a complaint online.
“Attorney General Abbott Charges Fitness Center Operator With Unlawfully Deceiving Texas Customers” [Attorney General of Texas] (Thanks to AB!)