- New York Attorney General Letitia James has obtained a temporary restraining order to keep New York Sports Clubs and Lucille Roberts from charging fees to certain members.
- James filed a lawsuit against the gyms’ parent company at the end of September, alleging that it inappropriately charged members when gyms were closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
- “This order stops New York Sports Clubs and Lucille Roberts dead in their tracks and halts these health clubs from continuing to unlawfully charge many of their members,” James said in a press release.
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New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a press release on Monday that she has obtained a temporary restraining order to prevent New York Sports Clubs and Lucille Roberts from charging fees to some of the gyms’ members.
James filed a lawsuit against the gyms’ parent company, Town Sports International, on September 30. At the center of the lawsuit are complaints that the gyms inappropriately charged members fees when gyms were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The restraining order prevents the gyms from charging dues or penalties to New York members who submitted cancellation requests since March 16, when gyms were shut down across the state in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. It also prevents the gyms from charging members of locations that remain closed.
“This order stops New York Sports Clubs and Lucille Roberts dead in their tracks and halts these health clubs from continuing to unlawfully charge many of their members,” James said in the press release. “As so many continue to struggle financially as a result of COVID-19, we will continue to do everything in our power to protect New Yorkers’ wallets from a company that seeks to lift up its dire financial state at the expense of members.”
The restraining order was put into effect on Friday and will last at least until a hearing on the case is held at the end of October. The court could also extend the restraining order.
Town Sports International did not immediately return Business Insider’s request for comment.
According to the lawsuit, the New York Attorney General’s office has received about 1,848 consumer complaints about New York Sports Clubs and fellow Town Sports International subsidiary Lucille Roberts since March 16. About 437 of those complaints were received since September 1, according to the suit.
The attorney general cited complaints from customers who said that when they tried to cancel or freeze their memberships during the shutdown, they had a difficult time getting through to customer service or were told that their cancellation would be subject to a 45-day notice and a processing fee of $10 or $15.
The gym chains also charged members for April’s membership dues despite gyms being closed, the lawsuit says.
On April 8, after James sent a letter to the company, Town Sports International implemented a freeze on dues and said it would issue credits “equal to the number of days paid for while the clubs were closed in your area.”
But, according to James’ suit, consumers have not received the credits as promised. Members have also said that the gym chains began to charge dues again on September 1, including for those whose local gyms had not yet reopened.
Town Sports International, which is a subsidiary of Town Sports Holdings, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on September 14. Gyms have struggled as many continue to exercise at home during the pandemic. Gold’s Gym filed for bankruptcy at the beginning of May, while 24 Hour Fitness filed in June.
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