I can’t go to the gym, so where is my refund?

Where is this consumer's gym membership refund?

After a serious health issue prevents Robert Mora from going to the gym, he asks for a refund of his membership. The company agrees. But that was months ago and his refund is still MIA. So where is it? 

Question

I have been a member of Fit Republic, a national exercise club chain, since it opened in San Jose. I renewed my gym membership late last year. In early December, my lung collapsed. I was in the hospital for two weeks and had an April 8 surgery date.

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I notified Fit Republic that I want a refund since I can’t use my gym membership for the entire coming year. Management asked for a doctor’s note, which I provided the very next day.

Ever since, the gym has promised my refund, but I have not received it. I have visited the facility five times, asking for an update. They assured me “the check was in the mail.” It is now month number four with no refund. I asked for a name and an address of their headquarters. They said they couldn’t provide that to me.

I am 79 years old and on a limited income. I need a refund. Can you please help? — Robert Mora, San Jose

Answer

I’m so sorry to hear about your health problems. If the gym promised you a refund, it should have sent it to you promptly. Four months is way, way too long.

It looks as if initially, you spent most of your time dealing with the company online or in person. I might have started a paper trail with Fit Republic — the Elliott Advocacy research team lists the executive contacts for the company in our database.

When you first signed up, you had an opportunity to review the terms of your membership. You may have missed some important wording since you would have had to click on a small link at the bottom of the page. Anyway, here’s what you would have seen:

I understand that I have paid or will pay an annual rate guarantee of $39.00, on an annual basis, in order to lock in my membership rate. Under no circumstances is any portion of that amount refundable. I also understand that I have paid or will pay an enrollment fee. That amount is not refundable if I cancel my membership because I relocate my permanent residence.

The good news: You have your gym membership refund

Translation: Unless you have something from a manager at your specific gym, Fit Republic isn’t sending a refund. By the way, that Fit Republic contract is quite a novel. It might be worth a look if you ever decide to sign up for a membership again.

It’s unclear why Fit Republic would promise you a refund and then not send one. But excuses didn’t matter to you. In addition to contacting me, you reached out to the BBB and to the District Attorney. Fit Republic’s BBB page shows it is “not accredited” and has a failing grade. But it looks as if your email to the District Attorney bore fruit before I could even get involved.

Fit Republic refunded your membership fee, as promised. I love cases like yours, where the company does the right thing before I contact it. Nice work.

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