Gold's Closes Your Gym, Traps You In Contract Anyway

There happens to be a Gold’s Gym right inside the building where Cynthia works. How convenient! She took her employer up on an offer to subsidize part of her membership, and was happy with the arrangement. Three months later, the building Gold’s announced that it was closing. Not to worry, though: Memberships limited to only that location would change so members could visit any local corporate-owned Gold’s club. That’s pretty standard when a branch of a chain gyms closes, but Cynthia is annoyed that she joined so close to the change and has to pay for a membership she’s unlikely to use. Someone must have known that branch was doomed, but would the front-line and sales employees have known?

This past June I took advantage of my employer’s offer to subsidize a portion of a gym membership at a Golds located in my building. Delighted to be able to work out without having to drive my car or find parking, I signed my one year contract to use that gym – and only that gym (I was not free to use any other Golds Gym).

My delight was short-lived however, as within three months I received a notice that Golds was closing that gym within the next thirty days. As a “token of appreciation for my business,” Golds announced that it was upgrading my membership to include access to any of its other corporate-owned facilities in the area. Because my sole reason for taking out a membership was to use the Golds gym in my building, I contacted Golds to let them know that I planned to cancel my membership. Gold’s “appreciation” of me similarly was short-lived, as I was informed that I could not cancel my membership until next Spring (expiration of the one-year contract).

Of course, had I known that Golds planned to close this location — which it certainly knew when I signed my contract to use only this location — I never would have purchased a year’s membership. Gold’s silence on this critical point was intentional and misleading.

Ironically, although under the terms of the contract I actually signed, I was not free to use any gym other than the one in my office building, Golds has turned that all on its head, insisting that I now MUST use its other locations. While Golds points to the contract and its “gotcha” language, there is something very wrong with its failure to inform that the single location that was the subject of my contract was not going to be available for anything close to a year.

I’m now stuck with a year’s membership to a gym I never intended to use (and logistically won’t use). If Golds really wanted to take care of its members and show its “appreciation” for their business, it would at a minimum be honest in its business dealings.

If she hasn’t already, Cynthia should contact her state’s attorney general for clarification on the specifics of health club contract law where she lives, and file a complaint against them if it turns out that they did anything wrong.

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