Fitness Club Investigation
GLENDALE - LA Fitness is a beautiful, brand new fitness club on the North Shore. But it's quickly becoming known for strong-arming potential customers.
Our hidden camera found salespeople lying to seal long term contracts... and cutting membership deals to people they "like."
Nicole Trotman is one of those former customers. She wanted to lose weight, so she decided to join LA Fitness at Bayshore Town Center. "I know I need to lose weight," she said candidly. "That was a first step for me, so that's what I did.
But Nicole was surprised by what she calls "hidden fees" and the hard sell she got.
"It was like $149 to join, which I was like... 'No that's too much.' Well then they said, 'Well this is customer appreciation day and anything we offer you now we can't offer you after... if you leave we can't offer it to you after that.'"
Nicole was told she could pay the first and last month's dues instead, a total of $80. She also wanted one session with a personal trainer - but the salesperson signed her up for a costly monthly program instead.
All told, Nicole's gym membership was going to cost her well over $100 a month. That was way more than she could afford. "I did it and then after three days I cancelled it," she told us.
But LA Fitness would not refund the first and last months' fees - $80. Nicole filed a complaint against LA Fitness with the Better Business Bureau.
She's not the only unhappy customer. Customers nationwide filed more than 400 complaints with the BBB. We found more horror stories on ripoffreport.com
We decided to take a closer look. Armed with a hidden camera, two of our producers visited LA Fitness.
Both were told Wisconsin law required them to sign two year contracts.
When we asked them about month to month, they said they would offer that, but the state forbade them because they are a new business.
We talked to officials in Madison about that. Turns out, it's not true. Rather, "The law says they can't have a contract, that's a duration of longer than two years," the state told us. But there's nothing limiting a shorter contract.
LA Fitness also has to have $25,000 in a special account - to refund customers if they go under. Consumer protection is still waiting for that to happen.
In the meantime, people who signed up with LA Fitness can cancel their contracts on that technicality. "It's unenforceable," the state told us. "What they can do is just stop paying."
I tried to speak with the manager, who told us he knew there had been a problem, and that it was now fixed.
We went back to LA Fitness with our hidden camera. Same sales pitch. Same lies.
Nicole says it's just a shame. "It's a beautiful club, gorgeous, but the whole thing was ridiculous so I just cancelled them and I'm gonna look elsewhere."
TODAY'S TMJ4 tried contacting LA Fitness' corporate office but the company did not return our phone calls.