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Guest Post by: W. Liang

BALLY TOTAL FITNESS: A SCAM???

I am writing to all of you concerning a possible “scam” running by a corporation by the name of Bally Total Fitness. If you don’t know what that is, this corporation runs a nationwide chain of fitness centers and gyms. On August of 2007, this corporation filed for bankruptcy protection, yet many members and consumers seem to be unaware of this. Bally Total Fitness sees that while their corporation is going down the hole, they will make almost anyone and everyone a target for their unlawful business practices. They will do everything in their power to lure you with their empty promises so you can sign three-year contracts that are almost impossible to get out of. There are three ways:

1 ) YOU DIE.
2) You move 25 miles away from any Bally’s facility.
3) Injure yourself… or fake an injury for a doctor’s note.

My Story: I walked into a Bally Total Fitness facility nearby my home with a friend. A sales person immediately sat us down, gave us a clipboard and told us to sign some release forms before they told us about their plans. We figured it was pretty much harmless because we thought we were in control. Another note: Bally’s do not offer any pamphlets or flyers on membership plans and prices. We were led into an office and a friendly salesperson, who I shall not name, began to ask us about our commitments. We told them we were looking for a month-to-month plan for two months and that was it. He told us that for a month-to-month, we were only limited to workout on three specific days of the week. It would be $60 a month. We thought it was too expensive and got up to go. He stopped us and gave us another suggestion: $38 dollars a month for each person if we put a down payment of $57. We still though it was too expensive for our budget and told him we would go home and think about it. Desperate for us to stay, he said he would cut us a special deal: $5 down payment and $38 each person for each month. We thought it was too good to be true, but had us convinced when he said he was the manager and had the power to do cut deals like that. As long as we go 17 times for within 60 days, we can cancel without any fees. He told us to give an ID card and credit card and gave us an eight page contract. Note that he never told us it was a contract nor did he say it was for 36 months.

Two months went by; we abided to the rules, went 17 times and went for a cancellation. When I got there, I was denied because the number of times I attended magically turned to 12. The salesperson who signed me up gave me another alternative. If I was going back to college, send in a proof of residence and address and give a fee of $50 along with a notice of cancellation MAILED to their headquarters in California. I was denied again because I was told I must be at least 25 miles away from any facility. My salesperson knew very well where my university was being a college student himself. Also, I found out he was in fact not the manager of the club. The manager of the club was actually a woman. Right then and there, I knew that there was something really fishy with this company. So it’s been 5 months and I am still locked in this contract and haven’t found a way out.

READ CONTRACTS BEFORE SIGNING…

DON’T GET SCREWED!!!

I did some research online and was shocked and appalled by the number of websites, forums and personal stories about how this major corporation has screwed them over. It has been the subject of federal investigations across America, involving the New York State Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau. Former Attorney State General Eliot Spitzer had some agreements of reform for the company. However, Bally’s just isn’t living to their end of the agreement. So, I decided to share some of the stories I found on forums on the internet:

- 17-year old girl walked into her local Bally Total Fitness and informs staff she is a minor. Staff member assures her that he will take care of everything and ends up taking all her information and changes her birthday on the contract so she can be born one year earlier.
- U.S. Military person was denied of cancellation even after sending in papers for proof of his deployment to Iraq. Years later, was harassed by Bally’s Collection Agency. Credit report ruined. Bally claimed they have never received such letter at their headquarters.

- 20-year old college student was promised a student plan, but finds out his membership was never cancelled because supposedly, his card was found active in another state far away from him. Harassed by collection agency; credit report ruined.

- Half of the stories on the internet involving cancellation denial were that Bally claims they never received any documents or cancellation notices. However, the ones who fax them or mail them notices along with the threat to sue were not denied of cancellation.

- Many victims of this “scam” were involved because of fraud, forged signatures on contracts and pressure.

Many people who fall victim to this corporation is more or less our age. Now, I understand some of you might be members and are completely satisfied with the services; and some of you might be a current/former employee who enjoys working for Bally’s. I’m not saying every salesperson out there is deceptive. However, I do feel that one must take a closer look at what is happening with this company and why are there so many consumers out there who are completely dissatisfied with this corporation. If it is nothing but a few complaints, then maybe it is the consumers who are to blame, but if there are thousands upon thousands of complaints out there, it does not take a genius to figure out that this corporation is hiding something.

I left the title of this article or whatever it a question because I want you to decide for yourself whether or not Bally Total Fitness is actually scamming people. For me, I cannot find myself supporting such a crooked company that makes their money by lying and stealing. So please, tell a friend; and tell a friend to tell another friend and let this be one step closer to the shut-down of this bully of a corporation… or at least some reforms to their policy. Let’s be truthful now, I am sure most of you have considered joining a gym at one point or another in your life. So now, I am sharing my story with you all in hopes of preventing more unsuspecting consumers from being scammed.

FOR MANY MORE INTERESTING STORIES AND INFORMATION, YOU MAY GO TO ANY SEARCH ENGINE AND TYPE IN SEARCH: “BALLY TOTAL FITNESS SCAM

8 comments

Inforthemoney said... @ October 27, 2007 at 3:25 AM

interesting to know. Now I am going to prank call bally's

Simon said... @ October 27, 2007 at 3:38 AM

^ lol. good stuff. the author would be highly appreciative of your support.

Anonymous said... @ October 28, 2007 at 9:51 PM

haha. nice. i know someone who also has been scammed. but they chose to finish the subscription.

Anonymous said... @ November 29, 2010 at 4:03 PM

I appreciate your site

Anonymous said... @ December 15, 2010 at 12:44 AM

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, may all your wishes come true!

Anonymous said... @ December 15, 2010 at 4:36 PM

It`s really nice article. Thank u a lot

Anonymous said... @ April 16, 2011 at 12:21 AM

My mom got scammed by Bally's last year. When she tried to cancel they continually charged her credit card up to 3 or 4 months later. They didn't stop until she threatened them. Douche bag Bally Fitness club owners...

Anonymous said... @ January 9, 2012 at 4:03 PM

I really liked your article.

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