I am a member and personal training client at LA Fitness Cumberland/Norwood Park in Chicago, IL. In June 2012, I purchased a 13 month contract for personal training that cost $6,820; I had to pay for the package on a month to month basis, so it is now paid in full. Out of 208 personal training sessions, I have about 80 unused sessions for which I am seeking a refund because my health disables me from using them. For the 80 unused sessions, I have paid $2,800, which is the amount I am requesting to be refunded to me.
I suffer from a permanent neurological condition that disables me from completing the personal training program, so that's why I am seeking a $2,800 refund from LA Fitness. When I purchased this 13-month training program, I addressed that I have epilepsy to the Personal Trainer Director, Michael H., and spoke in detail with him about my condition, my limitations, and conflicts that may potentially occur due to my condition. I opened up to him, told him very personal things about my life, and even cried to him about the adversities I have faced with epilepsy. I made it very clear that although I was okay to participate in personal training at the time, this can change based on my progress. Michael H. told me not to worry because at any time - so long as I have a note from my doctor - I can cancel and be refunded for all unused sessions.
After using about 32 sessions by August 16, 2012, my doctor advised me to stop training. So, in September 2012, I sent a doctor's letter and my written notification in to the the LA Fitness corporate office but did not get any response. I also gave the same two letters to Michael H., who did not even bother to read them and simply replied that it can't and won't happen. Because I was continuing to get charged $560/month for 16 sessions, I eventually gave up and began using my sessions on and off because I felt compelled to use them since I was paying so much money for them.
Within the last month, my condition has changed, and continuing the strenuous physical activity from the personal training program has resulted in unnecessary stress and pressure to my mental and physical state, which in turn has further increased the frequency and intensity of my epileptic episodes and may further harm me. On July 10, I emailed another written notification to the District Operations Manager, Paul S., as well as a doctor's note stating that I am unable to continue the personal training due to my epilepsy. On July 11, I received a phone call from Miguel O., the Member Service Manager at the Norwood Park club, who insensitively asked me why I want to cancel and basically was arguing with me about the contract. I also received a call from Paul S. who also won't allow the cancellation and reimbursement, despite my letter, my doctor's note, and my pleas for help. My LA Fitness general membership expires October 9, 2013, so Paul S. said the best he could do is freeze my general club membership for 6 months so that in the case my seizures get better and I could use the sessions again, I would have membership until April 9, 2014. I continued to express that I want the reimbursement because I don't know that I will be able to use the training sessions; Paul S. insisted that he could not reimburse me, even when I pointed out that there is nothing in the contract that states I can't be refunded due to medical conditions AND despite that Michael Haugen - who signed me up - told me that if I did need to cancel due to my medical condition, I would get my money back. The only statement about disability in the contract is:
"If the Client, because of death or disability, is unable to use or receive all services contracted for, the Member or his estate, shall be liable only for that portion of the charges allocable to the time prior to death or the onset of disability. L.A. Fitness shall have the right to require and verify reasonable evidence of such death or disability." (page 2 of my contract)
After reading the above paragraph to Paul S., I mentioned that when I first informed LA Fitness of my inability to continue, I had used only 32 sessions; the remaining 176 were not assigned to me yet, but again, I had no choice in the matter since the request was denied and nobody ever got back to me about it.
Paul S. argued that policy is that if the contract term is over, even if the sessions are not used, they cannot reimburse or cancel them. I argued that the only reason my term has passed is because I had to take a break from the sessions and not use them as I signed up for (4 sessions per week) because of the epilepsy that I had informed LA Fitness about in September 2012. Paul S. insisted that because I have already paid for the sessions and that the 13 month term is over, they cannot do anything else to help me with getting my money back. I again said that this may be practice, but it is not stated in my contract; simply because it is practiced does not make it something that I am bound to by my contract. Furthermore, I explained several times to both Paul S. and Miguel O. that when LA Fitness has us sign contracts, they don't allow us to read it; instead, they have us sign on an electronic keypad several times without reading what we are signing. (I actually researched this and found multiple complaints about this practice.)
Clearly, LA Fitness will not give me my money back, even though my permanent epilepsy has caused me to unexpectedly seize and lose consciousness and memory. In the last two days alone, I have had four epileptic episodes, one of which was at the gym. I also expressed to Paul S. and Miguel O. that they should fear the liability they could face if something was to happen to me on their premises and I actually get hurt or injured; that alone should be enough for them to want to reimburse me.
According to my records, I have 80 sessions remaining on my PT membership; Miguel O. stated I have 81 sessions left. These 80 sessions alone cost $2,800, which is the amount I am asking to be refunded (81 sessions would be $2,835). Actually, as a personal training client for the last 7 years at the Cumberland/Norwood Park location, I have spent over $25,000 - but the club won't give me a mere $2,800 due to my health issues. This company is truly insincere, inhumane, and heartless, and they care only about money and making their commission.
I also expressed to Paul S. that I lost my job, and therefore my insurance, so this $2,800 will go a long way in helping me pay for my medication costs and the medical bills in which I am drowning. Although he expressed his apologies for my situation, this did not result in the reimbursement.
I have begun a petition on change.org hoping to change how this company operates and treats its clients, especially those who have medical limitations. I'd appreciate if you'd sign my petition:
Product or Service Mentioned: La Fitness Personal Trainer.
Monetary Loss: $5700.