Sometimes even our advocates need advocacy. Such is the case with Jennifer Finger, who could not get New York Sports Clubs to stop charging her for a membership she had canceled. Can our advocates help her?
Question: I never thought I would have to ask my fellow advocates for assistance, but here goes: In October 2015, while visiting New York City, I joined a couple of friends for a workout session at New York Sports Clubs (NYSC). In order to use the club facilities, I agreed to a membership and allowed it to continue for one year because I believed there was a possibility that I would be returning to New York on a permanent basis and could then use the club regularly.
But by October 2016, I realized that this wasn’t going to happen. At that time, I experienced a problem with the debit card that I was using to pay my club dues through automatic debit. When the club asked me to update my card, I asked it to cancel my membership. It did not do so for one month.
I contacted the club again in November, and it canceled my membership and refunded me the dues for November. But in December, I found another charge on my debit card. I again contacted the club, and was told that some automated procedure had reactivated my membership by mistake. The charge was refunded.
In January, it happened yet again, and I disputed the charge with my bank and won. In February, it happened still another time, and I again disputed the charge with my bank and received a credit. At that time, I asked my bank to permanently stop the club from debiting my account, and they agreed.
But today, I received an email from a club employee claiming that I have a balance due. I responded that I canceled my membership in October 2016, that all of my dues through then had been paid and that I was formally requesting that they stop attempting to collect membership dues from me. No attempt or communication on my part to the club has stopped the attempts to collect funds from me, and it now feels like harassment. — Jennifer Finger, Houston
Answer: Talk about a workout! You’ve spent way too much effort doing keyboard crunches and phone curls. NYSC should have stopped charging you when you canceled your membership. Then again and again after the charges were mistakenly reinstated.
The company’s Membership Agreement states:
I understand that, subject to the cancellation rights described below, my membership is for at least 12 months, after which my membership will continue until I cancel it by (1) GIVING TSI 30 DAYS WRITTEN NOTICE BY CERTIFIED OR REGISTERED MAIL plus (2) TURNING IN MY MEMBERSHIP CARD and (3) GIVING FULL PAYMENT OF ANY UNPAID DUES OR INDEBTEDNESS.
At the time of cancellation you had paid in full and had given 30 days notice, so at most you might have been liable for one month’s fees. Still, the company continued to charge you and charge you until you reached out to your colleagues here.
We agreed to advocate your case just like everyone else’s, and we started at the beginning, by reaching out to the general manager at NYSC’s Park Avenue location in New York City. Fortunately, you kept copious notes, and this evidence really helped when it came time for us to prove to the company that you had done due diligence in canceling.
We reached out to NYSC several times on your behalf without a response. Coincidentally (or maybe not!), you recently received your latest bank statement, and there was no NYSC charge. I’m guessing they got the message.
Now you can refocus your energy on helping others who sometimes need an advocate of their own.