Massage Membership Rubbed Me The Wrong Way

Megan tried to quit her membership with Massage Envy, a national chain, in person, but was told she’d need to provide a request in writing. After she jumped through that silly hoop she was stuck with a charge of $10 more than she anticipated. Then a company rep told she would still be billed automatically for the membership she canceled.

She writes:

After I showed up for the appointment I told the front desk person that I wished to cancel my membership after my final (12th) monthly charge, which was scheduled for later that month. She told me that they’d need a cancellation request in writing. When I explained that I was already there, in their office, explicitly stating my desire to cancel the membership she stood firm and insisted that they needed my request on paper and that I needed to include my reason for cancellation in the request. So I asked her for a sheet of paper, which she provided, and then I scribbled out my request.

This was NOT the most relaxing way to begin my massage. After the 1 1/2 hour session I was again at the front desk to leave a tip for the therapist on my credit card and to schedule my next appointment. When I asked how many hours of credit I had I was informed that I now had 2 available (down from 4) and that my 1 1/2 hour session “cost” me 2 hours’ worth of credit instead of the 1 1/2 that I had expected. I wasn’t told at the time that I made the appointment that my 1 1/2 hour session used the same 2 hour credit as a 2 hour session or else I would have scheduled the 2 hour session. When I explained this I was told that there was “nothing that they could do” to refund 1/2 of an hour massage credit and that my only option was to pay for 1 hour with 1 credit and the additional 1/2 hour with cash, which I reluctantly did.

For my final billing I noticed that I was charged $49 instead of the $39 membership price that they’d offered when I joined. I called to ask why the charge was $10 higher than I’d expected I was told that $39 was for the massage and an additional $10 was the membership fee (?) and that they’d been charging me $49 a month for the duration of the membership (I am obviously less than vigilant about checking my bank statements). Since a non-member can purchase a massage for $49 their pricing gives no added membership benefit except (as the rep so dutifully explained) that the $49 price is “locked in” just in case Massage Envy decides to raise their prices. Woo.

Due to all of the shady tactics I asked for confirmation that my membership had indeed been canceled after my final charge and was told that although my membership was expired that I was still set up for automatic monthly billing, which of course was what I thought that I was canceling when I canceled my membership. So even after my IN WRITING request to cancel, I was still going to be charged monthly.

I am fed up with Massage Envy and will never step foot into their “Wellness Centers” again.

Well, Megan, it seems that you got, in addition to a bunch of messages, a lesson on checking your bank statements. It’s interesting how that lesson is so rarely free…

This whole thing makes us wonder… is there any sort of membership that is actually painless to quit? Is it hard to quit Netflix? We don’t know because we can’t imagine ever doing so.

UPDATE: Reader Brian points out Megan could have expected this treatment because the company is following its clunky policy.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Darrone says:

    Wow, a massage story with no happy ending. Bummer.

  2. koalabare says:

    It’s easy to quit Amazon prime. Couple clicks and you’re done.

    Also: I had purchased a year of Amazon prime for $79 before you could get a year of Prime for free by being a student. When I signed up for the free year trial (in addition to they year I had already purchased), they cancelled my original year, gave me a $59 prorated refund, and gave me the free year. That was nice.

  3. grapedog says:

    Nice photo, lol.

  4. GMFish says:

    Is it hard to quit Netflix?

    I quit Netflix years ago to give Blockbuster’s service at try. I did it online and it was easy. It was also easy to sign back up again. As we all know, Blockbuster’s service sucked.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      You can turn your netflix subscription on and off at will. Not sure if there’s a limit, but you could easily turn it off and return all disks, try blockbuster for a while, and then return when you realized your agregious error.

    • ShruggingGalt says:

      Years ago…when Netflix was new…..I tried cancelling on my last day before they billed my account. And for some strange reason, for the entire day, was “unavailable”. When I logged in from work, my account was “unavailable”.

      When they billed my card the next day, their response was “sorry, no refunds”. And no problems with the site or my account.

  5. Ladybird says:

    I declined the membership offer at Massage Envy. For me, a massage is a splurge, though I’m sure there are those with stressful lives or back problems that need continuious massage therapy.

    My last massage was at Elizabeth Arden (used reward points), a blissful 50 minute full-body massage with their signature body butter. A million times better than the one at Massage Envy and the customer service was a lot better (free aromatherapy mask!).

    • Julia789 says:

      I gave up the spas – too expensive – and the chain places I really don’t care for their tactics. I eventually called the massage school for recommendations as well as asked around who people recommended. I found a nice lady with a little studio 5 minutes from my house, who charges half what the spa charges, and I know she’s going to do a great job every time. With my neck and shoulder problems from a past car accident, it really helps to see her.

      • Fidget says:

        (My comp tried to flag this somehow, hopefully it didn’t go through, but I didn’t mean it!). Got my first massage from grandmother’s casino-spa comps yesterday. My TS had had my neck screwed to hell, and I’m not sure how sore one is supposed to be after those, but I can’t touch my neck to my shoulder now…other than that though, massages are really lovely things. I’d just been waiting around on a groupon, hadn’t even thought of checking for a massage school.

        • Julia789 says:

          First massage often leaves people very sore – lot of knots to work out. It means you needed it. Take an advil and drink a lot of water and it will subside in a day or two. :-)

  6. Tim says:

    Wow. So many things wrong there.

    Try to find the information they gave you when you signed up. Failing that (or in addition), tell them that you’ll do a credit card chargeback for $10 for every month that they overcharged you unless they can show a contract that you signed in which you agreed to the $49 price.

    And the continued charging after you end your membership is ridiculous. They obviously can’t do that unless, of course, you signed up for a longer membership.

    • sharkzfanz says:

      Its well documented on the website and most likely on the paperwork. They did not read it or something… I bet my life on it.. Life lesson for this experience.

    • fantomesq says:

      The OP has the burden of proof that she was actually promised a $39 massage for the duration of her contract. Show us the contract that states that and she has a legitimate gripe. Without it, not so much

      $39 is an incredible ongoing price for an hour massage. I strongly suspect she might have had a one time special offer at signup. Typical massage prices run close to $60/hour most places. Right on Massage Envy’s splash page is the $49 offer (with $15 going to the Susan Koman fund). I strongly doubt the OP’s claims based on memory without some corroborating evidence.

  7. Hi_Hello says:

    what paper?

    read your contract. if any place want stuff in writing, mail it to them and pay for the delivery confirmation. Save a copy of the document and the confirmation slip so if anything happens, you can take them to small claim court with proof.

    Basically you can’t prove to them you cancelled.

  8. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Pardon my ignorance, but is that a legit Jack sign, or just photoshoped?

  9. Stiv says:

    Why do y’all have to be pulling Jack into this. Not cool, man. Not cool.

  10. Charlotte Rae's Web says:

    And guess who is the Groupon for today…

  11. COBBCITY says:

    “I am obviously less than vigilant about checking my bank statements”

    This is why you must go over them line by line… ALWAYS.

  12. outoftheblew says:

    Since you asked … it’s really easy to quit Weight Watchers and And a local 24hr gym in Kansas City with no contracts (Scott Fitness). That’s all I can think of.

  13. iParadox{InLove} says:

    She should make an appointment with John Redcorn, it worked wondered for Nancy Gribble.

  14. iParadox{InLove} says:

    She should make an appointment with John Redcorn, it worked wonders for Nancy Gribble.

  15. HenryPython says:

    I wonder if she has the pricing right or if she read the pricing wrong. I was just at Massage Envy last week, and their non member pricing for an hour session was $65 and I want to say $39 for members. They told me their membership was $49 per month and you received one free hour long massage a month plus discounted rates for additional massages during that month (the $39 per hour posted).

  16. JulesNoctambule says:

    There’s a few Massage Envy places around where I live; all the LMTs I know call it McMassage and I’ve heard more than one horror story about their unethical practices when it comes to employees. At least they’re consistent, what with extending the lack of ethics to their customers as well.

    • wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

      I have to agree with you- I hear it’s like the blackhole for fresh massage school graduates.

      • Groovymarlin says:

        Since Massage Envy is a chain, quality must vary greatly by location. We have several where I live, and I joined a new one that opened in my town after having an introductory massage there that was FANTASTIC. I’ve had several massages so far and all were wonderful. The one I joined offers facials as well, and that’s usually what I get – also terrific. Of course they try to sell you the Murad skincare products but you can always decline. :)

        I was skeptical when I first went in there, but the quality of the services I’ve received is outstanding and I haven’t regretted my decision to join at all.

        • JulesNoctambule says:

          I’m sure that quality does vary by location, what with it being a chain and with local laws governing massage and bodywork differing from state to state.

    • fantomesq says:

      Any specifics to back your lack of ethics charges? I know LMTs and customers from Massage Envy… I’ve heard few if any complaints that wouldn’t apply equally to any other employer.

      • JulesNoctambule says:

        Ooh my, it’s a charge now, it is? If we’re going to get all legal here, then I’m afraid client confidentiality prevents me from discussing the specific concerns brought to me concerning Massage Envy’s practices and possible conflicts with North Carolina state board rules and regulations.

        • fantomesq says:

          Yes, you claimed that Massage Envy was “extending the lack of ethics to their customers as well” but provided no evidence to back it up these supposed unethical practices. That’s a serious charge to make unless you’re willing to support your accusations. You sound more like a former employee with an ax to grind… typical. Consider the source.

          All evidence would suggest that this situation has nothing to do with unethical practices and much more to do with a customer’s faulty memory as to what she agreed to.

  17. cheezfri says:

    I guess I got lucky with Massage Envy. Someone bought me a gift card good for one massage ($39). I used it, the therapist was nice, and no one even tried selling me the membership.

    I have cancelled a few monthly-type things, like Ancestry, Gamefly and the BMC CD of the month club. Both were extremely easy to cancel, but Gamefly sends me emails about once a month to rejoin for $9.99 for the first month.

  18. sharkzfanz says:

    What the user is talking about is WELL detailed on their website. Please see links below… Make sure to read before you sign anything and this will not happen.

  19. madtube says:

    I have been using Massage Envy for over a year. I use their membership program to help with the pain of my ruptured vertebrae. Maybe I am in the minority, but I have had nothing but excellent customer service from the location I frequent. I needed to suspend my account for the surgery on said ruptured disc. There was no issues with the account management. But like I said, maybe I am in the minority.

    • tasselhoff76 says:

      Yeah, my friend has also been very happy with her membership. I think this may be her second year.

    • Msmurder says:

      I’ve been with Massage Envy for a while now, both my husband and myself have memberships. Since both of us are related his membership is 49 per month and mine is 39.

      Customer service has always been great at the two locations we use and really at 49 or 39 per month it is much cheaper than the 60+ that most independent massage places charges for an hour around our area.

      I’m really sorry the OP had such a rough time though.

  20. StevePierce says:

    Quitting Costco is easy. Just stop by the desk say you want to cancel and they will refund your membership fee. Really, they REFUND your membership.

    But I can’t see why I would ever cancel my Costco membership either.

  21. SerenityDan says:

    I quit Gamefly like 6 years ago. I had to call them to do it and had to give them a reason why I was leaving, which I can understand since if it was for a problem with service they would want to know. Maybe it’s changed since but was pretty easy then.

    • Brandon says:

      I canceled my gamefly account twenty minutes ago online. Aside from a couple of small hoops with them trying to get me to stay by offering a discounted month or staying until the last day before the billing cycle ends, it was easy. Just chose the reason i’m quitting and click submit. Got a cancellation confirmation email in minutes.

  22. Pax says:

    Megan should contact her bank, and ask to block all future charges from that club.

  23. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    When I signed up for massage envy I could prepay for 3 months and avoid any auto renewal or commitments. The massages were mediocre, so I stopped at that. They wanted $49/mo and then additional massages were $39 if I remember correctly. I think the non member fee was substantially higher.

    Then the local masseuse whom had set the bar high came out with a sale where her normally $75 massages could be pre-purchased at 15/$750. I have been very happy, but it will be too expensive when I run out as they are not available for that price now (although I WILL try to negotiate!)

  24. MercuryPDX says:

    I got a gift card from them for a friend as a Christmas gift. My friend went and redeemed her massage, and afterward they hit her with the hard sell for a membership.

    She declined politely, but the salesperson/therapist kept right on going. She said it got to the point where it was on the verge of an argument and she was going to just leave the gift card on the counter and walk out. So much for relaxing.

    I was told to never buy her a gift card from them for her again, and I won’t… or anyone else for that matter.

  25. oldwiz65 says:

    I’ve seen the massage envy places springing up around here, but never realized they were just a large chain with dubious practices.

  26. FrugalFreak says:

    Netflix cancel was easy as pie. Now getting them to add Closed caption all the streaming content is another issue. I guess my sign up will be easy too just as soon as the have Closed captions and a way to search for them.

  27. 420greg says:

    I got my wife a membership for Christmas and here are the details of how the ones around here work:

    A member gets one massage a month that is included in the membership price. They tried to charge me 599.88 (49.99 x 12) but I pointed out to them that the first time you visit the massage is only 39.99, so they took the extra $10 off since her first visit using the membership would be her actual first visit.

    I paid the $589.99 in advance (basically a gift card) so I did not have to provide credit card or banking info.

    The main benefit of membership is you can get additional massages for $39.99. She brings friends with her and since it is their first visit they get a massage for $39.99. Makes for a good ‘girls’ day.

  28. myCatCracksMeUp says:

    My son gave me a gift certificate for a long massage at Massage Envy. When I went for the appointment, a front desk worker tried extremely hard to sell me a membership. Even after I declined he kept talking about all the wonderful benefits. He also stressed that I should just sign up that day, to save money on the membership, but if I decided I didn’t want it within three days I could cancel. Yeah, right. I’m going to sign up for deductions from my checking account with the knowledge that I can cancel. NOT.

    I’m sorry the OP is having a hard time with them.

  29. CaptainSemantics says:

    I’m married to an NMT and the above comments are pretty much correct in terms of “McMassage.” This is the place where LMTs who can’t make it on their own go to work.

    While it costs a bit much, I highly recommend supporting small business by finding an LMT or NMT (NeuroMuscular Therapist) who works by themselves or as a small group. You’ll usually get much better service and much better massage.

    If you’re worried about price, there may be a school in your area that has cheaper options. I know in my neck of the woods in Atlanta, you’ve got Atlanta School of Massage’s student clinic and ASHA has a top-notch student clinic in Chamblee. (But my husband is just as cheap as a side-effect of the economy, so if you want cheap massage in Atlanta, you just let me know.)

    • Sumtron5000 says:

      Does your husband look like Dr Who?

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      Oh, Atlanta! Is it true they have a board for massage and bodywork now? I remember that when we lived there, my husband’s license to practice massage in the city of Atlanta was procured in the same department as those for ‘exotic dancers’ — payable in cash only, too! Made him feel so proud. ;)

  30. BeFrugalNotCheap says:

    Hah, I went to these crooks a few months ago. I got ONE massage only and declined their offer for “automatic” billing for their “premium program”. Again, I told the young lady “NO” and was on my way. A month later they charged my cap one account $50. I called them immediately and got some young PUNK who claimed I signed a “contract” and it was “too bad” because he had my signature and everything. Turns out I was driving at the time and was within a few miles of the place. I told the guy to wait there. 10 minutes later I show up and speak with one of the employees. The punk came in with the “contract” which had NO signature. I told him to get out of the office while I finished up the conversation with his colleague. They never billed me again.

  31. Shali says:

    Place an ACH block on them, just go into the bank and speak to the Branch Manager (no one else will do) and place a lil’ block on their butts !! Problem solved !!

  32. Hands says:

    A few years ago a friend asked me about Massage Envy, presumably because my 20 years as a massage therapist makes me some sort of expert or something. I told her I wouldn’t patronize the place because if they charged that little, how much could they be paying their therapists? And what kind of therapist would accept that kind of paycheck.

    To find out they have scuzzy business practices too ain’t exactly shocking.

  33. ShelbyCobra says:

    Did you ever consider that Massage Envy does exactly as the agreement you signed called for? In the first place the monthly dues are $49 not $39 throughout most of the USA. The $39 rate are for additional massages after the first one monthly. Non-member rates are $65 in most states except in states where labor unions dictate high costs).
    The agreement you signed more than likely calls for your membership to go month by month after the original term ends and for a written cancellation request form to be signed in order to terminate the agreement 30 days after the original term ends. Why a written request? So when a person comes back i nto the clinic & claims that they never cancelled their membership the clinic has documented evidence of the request.

    Isn’t it amazing that we:
    1) fail to read the agreements we sign which would take about 1-2 minutes,
    2) then when we don’t comply with the agreements we have signed, we make the company the bad guys, then
    3) we spend much more time than it would have taken to badmouth the company which is doing exactly as the agreement calls for?

    The only practices which would have been shady is if the clinic had NOT done exactly as the agreement you signed called for! And by the way when one uses the word “chain” many people assume that all of the businesses in that “chain” are corporately owned. In the case of Massage Envy the over 600 franchises are individually owned by small business people who have invested their savings and/or have taked out huge loans to own and operate their own businesses which is the dream of many Americans and freedom lovers everywhere.
    How do I know that? Because I’m one of them and one who is not afraid to sign my name to this reply
    Freddy O’Pry

    P.S. No the so called “problem” is not solved by trying to break a valid agreement by having the bank block valid EFT charges since the EFT charges are valid charges & the bank will easily verify that fact

  34. Retired Again says:

    RAPE LATEST on MASSAGE ENVY —- Pompano Beach Fl — Therapist RAPED customer! Check the news. 2 months ago I was going to join but when I went in I was told some guy was on smoke break and I had to wait. Be back in 5 minutes. After 25 minutes I left.
    Called in and RUDE RUDE — Sounded like a circus barker with a secret. NO WAY would I join.
    Since then I have been told Therapists are newbies from massage school … inexperienced.

  35. jenolen2161 says:

    I (sadly) had to cancel Netflix, and it was completely painless. Of course, I had been billed for an entire month, so I waited until the last few possible days so I wouldn’t be autobilled but wouldn’t lose out on service. If only every company was run as well…

  36. j_rose says:

    I use Massage Envy. The $49 I pay a month gets me a 1 hour massage. A non-member would pay $49 for a half-hour massage. So it definitely offers a savings. It’s also good to be a member if you want to do 1 1/2 hours as it saves you a lot of money here. I usually do a 1 1/2 hour extra one every other month or so.

  37. Crutnacker says:

    Something similar happened to my wife. Want it resolved? Try a simple EECB. and The store got very irate when they called back telling us that the corporate office called them directly.

  38. Kaalisti says:

    Massage envy pays its therapists a pittance. Find a local spa that treats its people well. Mine pays the therapist half of the price of the massage, plus tips. Half is on the generous side, but makes for excellent employees that tend to stick around and bother to learn what it is you need out of a massage. I have three therapists that I see there, and know exactly what kind of massage to expect, and they know what I like and what I don’t.

    You can also get yourself gift certificates which are a few dollars off the normal price for buying 4+ at a time, most places have something like that.

  39. JamieSueAustin says:

    Questia was really easy to unsubscribe to. So easy, that should I need the service again I wouldn’t hesitate to use it.

  40. Alfred says:

    Read what you sign.

  41. smo0 says:

    Same thing happened with my Gold’s Gym membership… can’t quit that shit to save your life… wasn’t until I called one of the store manager’s freaking out – I actually had something done about it.
    The ONLY reason I wasn’t billed after the 12th month was because my debit card had expired right after they billed me the last bill….. I didn’t even think about it until I called when I got a collection letter from them and the CSR informed me that was the only reason they didn’t continue billing me… rude chick btw, but after doing the “girl thing” and losing my shit on a manager… I got the issue resolved…. maybe… stuff tends to bite you in the ass years down the road, I’ve noticed….

  42. MarkSweat says:

    I just quit Netflix. The only hard part was loosing access to the instant streaming movies for the remainder of the month I had paid for, since the cancelation was immediate.

  43. vastrightwing says:

    The only membership painless to quit is one you never entered into in the first place.

    To be fair, I had a deal at Boston Sports Club where my employer gave me 1 free years membership, so I paid the whole year in advance in cash. After the year was up, they didn’t try to hard sell me back and that was that. But I wouldn’t have allowed BSC to auto debit my account like they wanted to do.

  44. SugarMag says:

    I had issues with Massage Envy as well.
    For years I’ve heard nightmare stories regarding automatic billing/payment so as a rule I do not sign up for these things. I even prepaid a year at my gym, although it cost $60 more. I just can’t handle getting locked in without recourse.

    I had a three month pre-paid contract with Massage Envy, They kept charging my Discover card despite phone calls saying I may as well use the massages since I’m being billed. I was also physcially harmed by massages there – one left me in pain in a way I’ve never been before and another used a product I am allergic to, which left me in buring pain for a few hours. That was of no interest since my chart was not read beforehand. It was so bad I had large welts on my skin that made even lying down painful. And yet they still insist I signed up for a year.

    Finally, I had it resolved. I get a massage every 2-3 wks (by a myotherapist actually) and regardless of cost I would not do a fast-food chain massage again – esp. a practice that won’t even set up an appt for you without a CC number.

  45. muenginerd says:

    Wow I guess I’m in the minority too, but I have not had anything but great experiences with Massage Envy.

    I started using Massage Envy in my marathon training after other recommendations from runners in the family. I request the same therapist, she has very detailed notes of my previous visit and had done wonders working out muscle issues I’ve presented. She’s also pointed out other areas of flexibility I should focus on for my sport.

    There was no hard pressure sell after my first massage, I had to actually ask to sign up for the membership. I didn’t want a year contract so they had no issue going to a six month contract They can usually get me in with 24-hour notice no problem. They are much more cost effective then monst local spa’s I’ve tried, and I’ve enjoyed their massages more.

    All the issues stated above were clearly laid out in my contact, that was read word for word to me by the representative. Of course your going a cookie-cutter type of establishment, you are not going to get the full out spa experience there. But you’re also probably saving on the spa prices. For the cost I’m paying I think it’s a good value and have heard nothing but postivie remarks from family and friends who use them as well.