Can you stop New York Sports Clubs from charging me for my canceled membership?

By | June 15th, 2017

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.

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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.

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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.

  • fshaff

    It happened to my wife years ago under similar circumstances, but with a different club. The catch-22 is that you must send your request via certified or registered mail – a verbal cancellation won’t work, although they lead you to believe it. Her account went to collection and was resolved through a bankruptcy later.

  • PsyGuy

    It’s easier to get out of paying taxes then some gym and athletic club memberships. However, a friend of mine who does marketing in japan for some of the international clubs, says that these clubs literally die or thrive on those membership fee contracts, they have to the per visit fees would result in even fewer visits and result in even lower revenues.

  • Maria K. Telegdy

    If this happens to anyone ever again, all they need to do ASK your BANK for a new debit card pronto. You might need to lie, maybe , (I lost my DEBIT CARD) but it will serve the purpose. Trust me it works, and a lesson learned, never CHARGE a club membership on a DC. Sorry but cancelling a DC in such situation is the easiest and fastest way to resolve such a problem.

  • joycexyz

    She asked the bank not to debit the card, and they complied. The statement reflected that. Doesn’t mean it’s over. The club may very well turn the account over to a collections agency. Jennifer, don’t lose those those copious notes! I have a feeling you’ll need them. BTW, the same problem would have arisen had she used auto debit from her bank account or credit card; it’s not a debit card issue alone.

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