I rejoined LA Fitness in Westfield, Indiana in October 2011 with myself, wife and son. Wife and I discussed her receiving personal training to help motivate her working out. I called the Westfield club to inquire into costs of training. I spoke with training representative (sales staff) Joseph about options and cost. A cost sheet my wife had been given had $320 hand written next to a circled 8 (sessions) in a 12 month section which led me to believe the cost was $320 for year of 2 lessons per week. I was emphatic with Joseph on validating the total cost of $370 ($320 + $50 signup) for the year of lessons at the end of the call. At that time, I was not told that a contract was to be signed.
My wife was scheduled for her first lesson at which she was presented a checklist and contract. She allowed herself to be hurried through the signing process without understanding that the total cost was an initial fee of $370 and then an additional $320/month for 11 months (total cost of $3,890, not the $370 I expected) and to cancel the contract required 50% payment of outstanding balance. I should have been with her for any contract reviews/signatures since I was the person who spoke to Joseph on the phone; however, I was unaware a contract was required or would be signed on the first day.
On Dec 16, I was surprised to see a $320 LA Fitness charge. I went into the club and spoke with Joseph who had a well rehearsed explanation that he was sorry we didn't understand, but he had a signed contract and I would have to take it up with corporate. He provided me with a copy of the signed checklist and contract by my wife and told me she was provided a copy at the time of signing and an email was sent to her email address; however, my wife is not able to find or recall being given either the printed copy or email. I certainly never saw it or would have immediately invoked the cancellation within three day policy. I called corporate "customer service" who was not involved in any prior conversation and was unwilling to cancel contract without the 50% early termination fee paid. Corporate rep offered to reduce term to 6 months (maintain 50% contract cost), which indicates they "can" make changes, but not to reduce my minimum cost obligation. To minimize my cost exposure, my only recourse was to pay the %50 fee ($1,600) and terminate all my fitness memberships (approx. $100/month). It is more financially beneficial to LA Fitness to take the 50% payout and have me cancel my membership (and hope I go away mad, but quietly) than forgive the contract as it would take over a year of fitness dues (which I can cancel) for the same fees.
At best, I believe that I was purposefully mislead on total cost in order to get my wife scheduled for first lesson – with intention of convincing us to pay the full cost at time of contract. At worst, I believe there was a purposeful "bait/switch" where I was told one thing and then my wife (or child if that had been the case) would sign an agreement.
Whether intentionally fraudulent or not, LA Fitness was not willing to address the situation in what I consider to be a reasonable manner. I cannot perceive of any additional/outstanding costs incurred by LA Fitness for future lessons which would warrant the early termination fee
I would certainly like to recover the $1,920 I was charged above the expected $370; however, I fully understand the "lesson learned" aspect of all this. I would very much like to see LA Fitness (locally / nationally) correct/improve their business practice so that other people CLEARLY understand what they are committing to and that early termination fees/contracts are defined in a manner that can be justified from a reasonable cost recovery manner (not punitive/predatory as I believe they currently are).
Product or Service Mentioned: La Fitness Personal Training.