What would you do about this personal training company?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 07, 2007 3:00 AM GMT
    I know this is long, but this has really been eating at me. I signed up with a personal training company that works out of my gym 2 years ago. My contract was only for a year, but ancelling the automatic draft has been an absolutely ridiculous process. The billing's done through a third party billing company on automatic bank draft, I've sent in several cancellation requests along with the proof that my contract's up, but the money's still being drafted from my account. I've called, no one cares, they just tell me to do the same things I've been doing over again.

    I have not gotten what I paid for, the trainers are NOT willing to come in to work with me at the times when I'm available which is usually early-mid-afternoon or later in the evening. When I do get a trainer that's willing to work with me the work out routines are very dry and dull. So recently, I finally got with a trainer who knew what he was doing and I was content for a couple of weeks, and then he goes in for surgery on his foot and I don't hear from him or anyone else for 3 weeks. Someone should've contacted me, or at least returned my calls or responded to the numerous sticky notes on their desk, but that didn't happen. I'm absolutely livid with the horrible customer service I've received, and I wouldn't have paid for the majority of sessions I went through.

    Now the manager is telling me I've gotta bring in 2 years worth of bank statements so they can see the money's been taken out of my account, so I can at least go through the motions of getting my money's worth. I'm not at all comfortable showing this guy my financial business over the past two years, but it's "company policy." I'm at a total loss on what to do...I've lost 30 pounds and have taken my 5k time down under 20 minutes, I'm also beginning to see a lot better muscle definition no thanks to them. Maybe I should go take over the joint myself. I'm sure I can't be the only one who's gone through something like this. All I want at this point is my money back.
  • Laurence

    Posts: 942

    Jun 07, 2007 9:39 AM GMT
    Hi Runnin

    In the Uk, we have something called the Citizen's Advice Bureau. It's where you can get free legal advice. Is there something like that where you live? Because it sounds like you need to get legal with them and should get some advice on how to proceed.

    In the meantime, can your bank not stop the transfers?

    Good luck and I hope you get some resolution. Congrats anyway on your weightloss and increased healthiness.

    Loz
  • Rowing_Ant

    Posts: 1504

    Jun 07, 2007 5:40 PM GMT
    Cancel the Direct Debits - probably have to do it face to face in the bank and also write to the PT company saying you no longer wish to be on their books.

    Is that PT company registered with the equivalent of REPs or similar??? IF they are contact the equivalent governing body etc.

    In the UK you need to be registered with REPs (Register of Exercise Professionals) to actually trade as PT legitimately; they control standards, contracts, code of conduct etc.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 07, 2007 6:08 PM GMT
    Go to the Better Business Bureau for you area. File a formal complaint. It costs nothing, or very little.

    Threaten the personal training company with a compliant to your state's attorney general for false business practice. I assure you, that will get their attention.

    Offer a settlement to walk away. The training company obviously has some issues, and there's no point in giving any more money.

    Close your old accounts. CLOSE THEM, or have you bank put a permanent stop payment against them. It's better to close your accounts if you can, so there's no dispute. If they can't get their money, they'll either ding your credit, or do nothing. Bottom line: you need to stop giving them money.

    There's probably someone in your local tv / radio market that is a consumer advocate, at the radio station or tv station. Take your story public. The thought of bad pr scares any business.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 07, 2007 6:09 PM GMT
    Get nasty. Fuckers like these guys don't understand nice.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 07, 2007 10:50 PM GMT
    Thanks for the input guys. I've looked it up and I don't think we have the equivalent of anything like the citizen's advice bureau in the US unless you're a broke criminal. Then you get all the free legal advice you could possibly desire.

    I sent yet another certified letter to the cancellation department today so hopefully that'll be it. I was trying to avoid doing stop payments, and account cancellations but I probably will wind up going to my bank at some point to do so. I'm going stay on the manager like a hemarroid until the issue's resolved and I've gotten what I've paid for.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 07, 2007 11:03 PM GMT
    Sounds like standard operating procedure for gyms. I had an experience like that where I ended up paying for more than a year after I left town. I knew other people with the same problem. It's kind of a sleazy aspect to the business.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 08, 2007 4:21 AM GMT
    Closing the bank account before handling the problem may get you in trouble if they keep debiting it-- most banks will reopen the account and charge you an overdraft fee (that happened to me).

    Bank drafts are covered by federal law. If you notify the bank and the merchant that you do not authotize any further drafts (send a certified letter), then the bank is legally obligated to stop them. If you notify them properly, they are legally required to refund any drafts they mistakenly allow, and any fees they charge. After you do that, you might want to close the account as suggested.

    The issue here is not the contract. If it was for one year, it was for one year. You need no further reason to stop. If it was for longer, and they are not doing what they promised, you can still stop the drafts. The bank has to honor your request regardless of any contracts or claims by the merchant. If the merchant believes that you are breaking the contract, then they could take you to court or arbitration, but they cannot force the bank to debit your account, period.

    If the bank does not honor your request, you have to complain-- either to their main office, or to the federal regulators.

    Here's a link to an article on automatic drafts with details:

    http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Banking/BetterBanking/ThePerilsOfAutomaticBillPay.aspx?page=all&wa=wsignin1.0
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 08, 2007 4:25 AM GMT
    Regarding the refund, just copy your statements, use a black marker to redact everything but your name, account number (which they have), the date, and the line items for their drafts. It's reasonable for them to ask you for proof of the debits you want refunded. You may also be able to get the bank to give you a report on all the drafts for a fee, which they could sign, and you could give to the trainer.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 08, 2007 12:57 PM GMT
    I went through something similar with Quicken. I subscribed to their service before it became usual for banks to offer similar services for free.

    I paid $12 a month for about 7 years, not needing to. I would make occasional attempts to cancel it, and would have the same experience you describe. It wasn't enough money to get excited about.

    Finally, though, I got angry and called my bank and described the problem. They offered to call Quicken themselves. I later learned that even they had the same experience, so they discontinued the draft. I think if you document the problem, the bank will take action on your behalf.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 08, 2007 1:26 PM GMT
    And after you've gotten the drafts stopped, if you cannot get a refund after issuing a demand letter, you're probably headed to small claims court.

    It's actually not that bad a process.

    Read up on it in your state on the web.

    Good luck!
    Joey
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 08, 2007 3:14 PM GMT
    24-Hour Fitness in California has recently settled after a borderline class-action suit against them regarding direct-debit through a third-party company. You may want to do a bit of research on this and then approach your PT Company with murmurs of a lawsuit. If you have a lawyer/attorney friend, have them draw something up on official-looking stationery; nothing settles a problem faster than a wiff of litigiousness!!!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 09, 2007 2:37 PM GMT
    I know that there are a lot of people who've had issues with the training in the location that I was referring to in particular. If more people came after them, maybe they'd take notice. As of right now they only care about their own best interest and making all of the money they can without providing much in return. It's absolutely ridiculous how many people they've screwed over. I even heard more than once that a couple of trainers were saying derogatory things to some clients. It's ridiculous. Maybe if more people went after them, they'd stop and take notice, and stop worrying about just "getting people signed up."

    I myself haven't worked out at that particular location since I last posted, but I am planning to today. No pt/s will be there though, it's Saturday and all the fitness professionals are recovering from hangovers.