What happened: Former Steve Nash Fitness World members are reporting unknown and unwelcome charges from Fitness World – even, in some cases, after having cancelled their Steve Nash Fitness memberships.
Why it matters: Members and former members of Steve Nash Fitness World reported similar issues prior to the bankruptcy of the fitness chain, the assets of which were acquired by FW Fitness BC Ltd. earlier this year.
Former members of the now-bankrupt Steve Nash Fitness World are reporting unknown and unwelcome charges from Fitness World, which rebranded and re-opened this summer.
Lisa Hansen emailed Steve Nash Fitness in March to cancel her membership, days before the company would begin a months-long insolvency proceeding.
In June, she was informed that her account had been frozen, and was asked if she would like to wait until certain locations re-opened under the Fitness World brand, months after they had been closed due to COVID-19.
Hansen declined, and was told the same month that she would not be charged any further membership dues, according to email correspondence provided by Hansen to BIV.
In August, she was charged by Fitness World.
“I think that’s how they got around it, because they renamed their company,” said Hansen, who had been a Steve Nash Fitness member since 1999. “I don’t trust them. I knew this would happen and that makes me even angrier.”
A number of other consumers have reached out to BIV with concerns about their memberships and their rights.
Joshua Guidi said Fitness World charged him seven separate times in a single day last month. The amounts ranged from $2.03 to $31.48, and he is not entirely sure what they are all for.
Before the charges, Guidi said he spent weeks trying to get a hold of a Fitness World representative to understand how his membership would change as a result of the sale of Steve Nash Fitness. After six weeks – and seven charges – Guidi says he was told that he was being billed prorated amounts for his old Steve Nash Fitness membership. Some charges were for dues owed for August and September.
“I said, ‘Well, okay, that’s ridiculous, because, first of all, I’ve not been to the gym. It’s not like I used a service and you can retroactively debit me. But I did not agree to these amounts. You did not tell me what was going to come out of my bank,’” Guidi recounted.
Since March, Steve Nash Fitness and Fitness World have not responded to or have declined multiple interview requests from Business in Vancouver.
Last month, Fitness World cancelled an already scheduled interview with BIV. The public relations agency that handles media requests on the company’s behalf said Fitness World CEO Chris Smith did not want to speak to BIV if the resulting article was to include anything “negative” about the company or any mention of Steve Nash Fitness, which Smith served as CEO.
Regarding membership refunds and cancellations, the PR agency later provided the following statement:
“For former members who need assistance with a cancellation or refund, they can contact firstname.lastname@example.org and any issue will be fixed as soon as possible. Responses may take up to five business days. Alternatively for a faster response they can contact the club location directly and ask for the general manager for assistance.”
Guidi was told last week that he would be mailed a cheque to reimburse him for $108.95 in charges. Hansen successfully asked her bank to issue a stop-payment order on any charges from Fitness World.
On July 23, the BC Supreme Court approved the sale of SNFW Fitness B.C. Ltd.’s assets to FW Fitness BC Ltd.
As part of the deal, the fitness chain’s new ownership – which includes Smith and one of the shareholders of Steve Nash Fitness – said it intended to honour all existing memberships and sessions.
FW Fitness did not assume responsibility for refunds for memberships and prepaid personal training sessions purchased from Steve Nash Fitness.
According to Consumer Protection BC, if a business has changed its services since a contract was signed, consumers have the right to cancel their contract.
Examples provided by the regulator include a business closing or moving, or if a certain amenity is no longer offered.
The fact that several former Steve Nash Fitness locations have closed permanently may qualify as a material change.
If a consumer wishes to cancel their gym membership, Consumer Protection BC advises consumers to fill out its cancellation form and send it to their gym in a way that provides proof of delivery, such as by email or registered mail.
A business has 15 days to respond.