Many gyms have suspended membership fees as businesses across San Diego closed their doors during the coronavirus pandemic. But 24 Hour Fitness continued to charge its members even though its doors were locked, NBC 7 Responds found.
"I just assumed when I wasn't able to go to the gym they would stop taking my money," said gym member John San Filippo.
24 Hour Fitness decided to close all of its gyms on March 16th, but at the beginning of April San Filippo noticed the charge on his credit card statement. He tried to call 24 Hour Fitness to see why they were still charging him.
"I was stunned when the message said they had decided to completely close their call center for the duration of the pandemic," said San Filippo. "So basically there was no possible way to reach anybody at 24 Hour Fitness about my bill."
Customers that were charged between March 17 through April 15 would not be refunded for their bill, according to a statement from 24 Hour Fitness. Instead, additional time would be added to the end of customers billing cycle.
"Members will receive additional days of club access equal to the number of days paid for while the clubs were closed in their area. That extension will apply at the end of the membership," the statement read in part.
"If they just told me three weeks ago they were going to take my money and make it up to me later, I'd be fine," said San Filippo. "It's the fact they just thought they could take my money and not say anything about what's going on."
On April 1, 24 Hour Fitness sent a letter to its members. It said in part:
"...it appears our clubs may need to be closed for an extended period of time. As such, we will suspend all membership billings, including billings for any additional services and fees, effective April 16, if we are unable to reopen clubs by that time."
Still, many members felt like they were left in the dark for weeks. One member in Northern California was so upset they filed a lawsuit. It claimed:
"[24 Hour Fitness] has made the deliberate decision to bilk its customers out of roughly $120 million per month while its customers do not have access to [24 Hour Fitness'] gyms."
24 Hour Fitness now has a way for people to cancel their memberships online. You can do that by going following this link.
"I realize that some of you may want to cancel, but I personally hope you don’t," read the email signed by CEO Tony Ueber.
The gym is trying to help its members stay fit even though its doors are closed. It is streaming classes 24 hours a day on its YouTube channel and app, as well as providing free workout videos.
NBC 7 Responds reached out to 24 Hour Fitness for a statement. It read in part:
"For the membership billings charged from March 17 through April 15, members will receive additional days of club access equal to the number of days paid for while the clubs were closed in their area. That extension will apply at the end of the membership. Members with a pre-paid membership will have their membership end date extended to cover the amount of time the clubs were closed in their area. During this critical time for our business, our goal will continue to be focused on surviving this crisis so that we can ultimately emerge and welcome our club members, team members and guests back when it is safe to do so."