LA Fitness UK, the Crap Saga Continues…

30Oct07

If you haven’t read the history of how I got to this point with LA Fitness, take a look at my earlier post on how their incompetence and my laziness has dug me this hole. this morning, I received the below letter from an outfit called Trevor Munn Solicitors.
laf_censored_web.jpg

In the actual letter it states nothing except that I have an outstanding balance of £197.78. This is hilarious, as LA Fitness actually owes me (corrected: they owe NatWest £275 as NatWest has credited me that amount based on my dispute of the charges) money, not the reverse. I haven’t received any previous notifications concerning any outstanding balances and what the amount actually reflects. For all I know, this number was plucked out of thin air (which is probably where they calculate such things). There is also a weird referencing of ‘ARC’ in the letter, which I have no idea who or what that refers to. Since I have no experience with the UK legal system, I thought it would be prudent to get some legal advice at this point.

Another benefit of being a BT employee is an HR service that gives me access to quick, painless, and subsidized legal counsel. I called up and gave the lawyer (Debbie) the background to this case and she provided some key next steps for me to take.

  1. When I walked away from dealing with LA Fitness after they overcharged me £275, that is called a ‘Fundamental Breach of Contract’ (Wikipedia definition) because of their ineptitude and failure to respond to my queries and charging an amount that was in gross violation of the contract terms.
  2. Write a letter back to the collection agency stating the Fundamental Breach of Contract and state that if they choose to continue with legal action, then it will be strenuously defended and a counter-claim of £275 will made to recover the still outstanding amount owed by LA Fitness.
  3. Call the collection agency and state that I take exception to the fact that their initial contact with me was a letter threatening legal action. The appropriate mode of contact should have been a letter inquiring why the amount was outstanding and provided me an opportunity to respond. I should also relay the same message as the letter in that the Fundamental Breach of Contract warrants the cancellation of the gym membership contract and if they proceed with legal action, it will be defended and a counter-claim made.

After writing down all of the points that the lawyer provided me, I took a deep breath and called the number quoted in the letter. I was received by a lady (Lisa M) telling me that I was outstanding two months worth of membership fees (how does that add up to £197.78?). She then began telling me what options I had in paying off the quoted amount and/or re-joining the gym. At that point, I kindly butted in and informed her of LA Fitness’ Fundamental Breach of Contract and a 60-second summary of what’s happened to date. We also figured out that the address LA Fitness passed on to them was slightly off, and I was holding supposedly their third correspondence sent, not first. I’m not sure how they can expect to send post to the wrong address and expect me to receive it ;-). I suppose it was a bit of luck that the post was accidentally delivered to me rather than the correct address.

After being taken back by the information I was throwing in her direction, she decided that it was best to hand me off to her supervisor and gave me the option of speaking to her boss. I kindly accepted and a guy (David C) came on the phone asking for my name, first line of address and birth date. I pushed back a little on the birth date part, but he insisted that was his firm’s way of verifying identity and I eventually relented so that we could progress. I restated the history of this situation, and he tried butting in here and there to incorrectly correct me. One case being my membership dues being £37.95 on his record, when it is actually £34.95. Incorrect address and monthly membership fee. I guess LA Fitness does a poor job of even passing on their customer records to their collection agency. No surprises there.

Once I finished my rant about trying to work with LA Fitness management to refund me the overcharged amounts, the guy backs off from aggressive and turns passive and tells me he’ll send back the info I have given him to his client and call me on my phone once he gets an update. I tell him, actually, if he can send it through by post, it would benefit me much more, so that I can have a running record of our interactions. He hangs up promptly eager to get off of the call. I’m about to write my response letter to the collection agency and look forward to hearing back what LA Fitness has to say. Maybe I can actually get the £275 back! 🙂

In the illustrious words of the Wu Tang Clan, the saga continues…

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20 Responses to “LA Fitness UK, the Crap Saga Continues…”

  1. I had a very similar dispute years ago with Cellnet (as was). Cellnet themselves consistently ignored my letters explaining why I was entitled to end my contract early and hence owed them nothing, but when it was passed on to a collection agency it only took one letter (including copied of previous correspondence with Cellnet) to sort it all out.

  2. 2 dr1ft3r

    Kerry – Funny how communications all of a sudden improve when high priced agencies and lawyers get involved… I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping the injection of this collection agency allows me to actually recover the money they owe me. And maybe pigs will fly :-p…

  3. 3 Nicola

    PLEASE HELP AND ADVISE ME!!!

    I am member of LA Fitness.
    I have a 12 month contract.

    I joined the club expecting professional staff, good service and the idea of getting fit. After a few weeks in to the membership one particular member of staff started touching my leg when he came up to to speak to me, he hassled me to go out with him and kept writing his number down for me. I ignored it for a few times that i went there expecting him to back off and leave me alone which didn’t happen, he made me feel very uncomfortable with his eyes following me everywhere i went. Was this the service i signed up for in my contract? Was this stated in the contract i signed up for? NO! I emailed the manager Jason Reeves who did reply to a couple of my emails, and then i stopped hearing from him after i asked what i should do with the letters i was receiving from La Fitness. So i ignored them thinking he would have spoken to someone regarding my situation and the fact i wasn’t returning as i felt uncomfortable doing so, and the fact i was fearful of how other members of staff would be towards me for complaining, and the member of staff involved. But i felt it was totally inappropriate unprofessional for a member of staff to be like that with a member of the public who is paying for such a service.

    Now i have a letter from ARC credit management, which came to my surprise especially when I’m still waiting to hear back from the manager of what used to be the club i used. It was asking for £686.40. So i rang LA Fitness on 0844 770 7700 who informed me my contract stands and so does payment, i told her how can you expect me to return to the club when i have experienced such appalling service which is unacceptable and dam right disgusting. She informed to ring the manager on 01622 681987 which i did today and he’s not there no manager is. So he doesn’t reply to my emails and i cant phone to speak to him. So i rang the 0844 number back and explained this and all she suggested i email my complaint to member.relations@lafitness.co.uk which i have done.

    I cannot and will not return back to this club i just don’t see why i should be expected to after receiving inappropriate behaviour from member of staff that works there. I am angry that i never heard back from the manger of my club and i am angry i have received this letter from ARC. Is it that normal to receive this sort of behaviour from La Fitness clubs. Is it the norm to get touched up by staff, to have them hassle you. I joined a fitness club to get fit end off, not to get chatted up and get inappropriate service from staff. Who are there to be professional and portray a professional image for LA Fitness.

    I don’t see why i should be expected to pay 686.40, is it for the service i got being touched up and hassled? is it for using the gym that i haven’t been using because of the service i got? or is it for a contract that clearly states you will receive inappropriate behaviour from staff?

    Where do i stand? Id be so grateful for some advice. Should the contract be void now because of the inappropriate hassle i got from staff, it didn’t say this in the contract this wasn’t what i signed up for?

    I really don’t feel comfortable at the thought of having to go back there, but then i don’t see why i should pay 686.40 for such appalling service.

    I look forward to hearing from anyone very soon?

    Kind Regards

    • 4 Rasheed

      Not taking the piss, but you must be very attractive… But what a creep & Im a guy…

  4. 5 blueearth

    Hi James… so what happened next?

    Did you get anywhere with the Trevor Munn threats?

  5. 6 dr1ft3r

    Blue – Not really. Their phone calls have slowed to a point where I haven’t heard from one of the their reps in about a month or so. I used to get a ‘check-up’ every two weeks or so. Even the letters have stopped for the time being. I’m still expecting further letters that threaten legal action of some sort. I need to get off my perpetually lazy bum and write them back a formal letter, per the suggestion by the legal adviser that I talked to about this situation. I’ll update this threat next time I hear from either Trevor Munn or LA Fitness.

  6. James, ARC is the debt collection company linked to Trevor Munn. They are a fairly new and aggressive firm but some googling does show that they have made similar cock-ups with other people.

  7. 8 dr1ft3r

    James M – I figured as much. I have neither received a phone call, nor letter since mid January, so I’m guessing they have either 1.) finally realized that LA Fitness is in the wrong 2.) proceeding with legal action or 3.) the most likely of all, still have no clue about the situation, but essentially have given up on this account…

  8. 9 Charles

    The staff at LA Fitness call centre and their general administration staff are utterly incompetent. I have just been through a two month ordeal with this company over direct debit payments. Firstly they sent me a letter with the title “Slightly embarrassing money issue”; telling that my bank had cancelled my direct debit with them and I therefore owed them £50. No direct debit had been cancelled and they had withdrawn the money from my account, thus I thought nothing of it. Then, a second letter arrived demanding £100 on the same conditions as the first letter.

    Therefore I was straight on the telephone to them, demanding answers. With the letters in front of me and a statement especially printed from the bank with the withdrawals made from them shown. The operator said quote ‘I don’t believe you, you will have to scan in your bank statements or send them to us’ to which I replied I would never do as it is a breach of my privacy. She also claimed she had no means of seeing what payments had been taken and which ones had not. I then said I would contest this further, making a formal complaint.

    However in no time at all (in about a days time, post this telephone call) a letter came from ARC credit management. Demanding £425.15, and if i do not pay this within ten days, their solicitors would take me to the County Court. On trying to ring ANC about a dozen times and leaving messages, no one picks up the telephone and no one returns your calls!

    Again I was on the phone to LA fitness again. Complaining…. again. This time they had the audacity to tell me, if you just pay the money then you can enjoy your clubs facilities once again. To which I responded, as long as i draw breath I will not be going to your club ever again. How could they expect me to go after the way they have treated me??

    This company is a ramshackle of disorganization and incompetence. From what I have read here and other forums, LA fitness is by sure developing itself quite an infamous name.

    I foresee there will be arguments a plenty to come. Its far from over yet.

  9. Please help me. I too have become a victim of LA Fitness’s shambolick customer service. I received yesterday, 25/9/08 two duplicate letters dated 18/9/08 stating that I they had not been able to collect the membership fee from me and that if i did not pay withing 5 days they would be charging me another £40.00 late payment fee on top. I phoned the “member relations team” and explained that I had indeed cancelled my membership on the 15th August together with the DD debit payment arrangement and had sent a letter informing them of such of which I could send them a copy. They said they had not received my cancellation letter, that they would cancel my membership as of 25/9/08 but I would still be liable for the £33.00 membership they could not collect.

    I challenged this obviously but was only being told by the “member services” dept that I should have sent my letter recorded delivery, there was no room for manoeuvre and that the matter was now being dealt with by ARC. I have contacted the Citizens Advice Bureau and they suggested I write a letter to the Chief Executive explaining what’s happened and wait and see.

    I have to say that after reading your stuff on the internet that I’m not feeling confident. There’s nothing in my contact that says I should cancel my membership by sending the letter recorded delivery and have said in the letter that if that is the case then perhaps they should follow their own advice because apparently they had sent me letters prior to these which I had not received.

    Any advice ?

  10. 11 dr1ft3r

    Louise – Your situation definitely mirrors many of the others who have commented on my post from a year ago. I would definitely follow the advice of the CRB and write the letter to the CEO, using registered mail, and even posting a copy of it onto the net. I’m not hopeful that they’ll actually respond, but the added pressure of putting it out in the open can only increase the likelihood they’ll decide £33 is worth making at least one customer satisfied (somewhat anyways).

    You’ll probably get increasing contact from ARC, but have all of your information prepared, and the calls will mount to nothing than a 30 second annoyance while they scramble in the background on how to apply ‘pressure’ to you…

    Good luck and definitely steer clear of LA Fitness in the future…

    James

  11. 13 John Taylor

    i am in the same current situation as louise above, i signed up on the 14th of november was told i had free month by the rep who spoke to me, paid the full joining fee thinking i would be reciving a good service….. i obviously thought wrong, this company is a total joke, i was told i could cancel at any time with no charge as stated in their contract. (backed up by a witness) they are now trying to threaten me with legal and debt collector agencies for the £40+ 40 charge on top, i told them to do so as they had just woken me up and was not in the best of moods to be awoken by such a rude and abrasive customer service agent, L.A. Fitness have to be one of the worst companies i have ever dealt with, i hope they send the debt collector round as i will tell him to tell them to take it to the court room, i may not have free legal representation but i’m more than willing to pay this to stick it to these bunch of ignorant worthless total joke of a company, and to nicola call the police thats sexual harrasement get him arrested.

  12. 14 C

    I had a similar experience with LA Fitness Newbury – was owed money, including an ‘admin’ fee that I never received back (you’re meant to have it return to you after attending the gym twice a week for two months – I did this).

    I started receiving letters once a month claiming that I owed £197 (?!?) – I had cancelled my membership in person and in writing but apparently I still owed money. They had the audacity to claim that if I rejoined the gym they would knock £40 off the fee as a ‘goodwill gesture’.

    In the end after speaking to their membership services and voicing my anger at their inefficiency and poor running, they proposed that they would cancel my debt if I promised not to contact Trading Standards again (I already had sought advice from them).

    So all that hassle and time wasted and I’m still owed money – what for a gym where the showers rarely worked correctly, the staff were lazy and rude (they were unable to write me a fitness regime as they had ‘run out of paper’ and we had to fill up the sauna heater with water from the swimming pool. It gets worse – on one occasion we found a vomit-like substance on the drinking fountain, it stayed there for two days.

    I am now a member of Nuffield Health and have had a much more positive experience.

  13. 15 Andy

    LA Fitness are the Ryanair of health clubs. They are chiseling little b@$t@rds who run dirty nasty facilities! I was made redundant, so, after being a member (why?) for 7 years I phoned to cancel my membership. However because I phoned up at the start of the month this actually works out at two months notice and an extra payment. I thought this was unreasonable to canceled my final months payment. They are now threatening me with legal action over £45 and infamous ARC credit management! I am getting all my friends to leave.

  14. 16 Michelle Kirton

    I too have been having problems. I cancelled my membership in writing and actually received a call from them regarding the letter. ( They tried to deny receiving it at first). My year was up! I have since been hounded by telephone and text. Then letters and now ARC. They are rude, incompetent and argumentative. Have done a few letter exchanges and are getting nowhere fast so they have set ARC on to me again. I’m asking people to send me their complaint letters without personal details so I can draft another letter showing all additional material I’m collecting as nearly all complaints are the same problem.
    Good Luck to all trying to resolve their problems.

  15. Ive had a similar experience, blogged about here: http://www.getjealous.com/getjealous.php?action=showdiaryentry&diary_id=1833738&go=jameshendicott. It;s basically a bullying strategy that takes advantages of the costs of actually going to court. What awful customer service, total scam artists.

  16. 18 Charles Bronson

    Hello there

    Dont pay the bastards, no matter what. Im a guy and I received appalling service from an asshole at the club who was nothing buy a clown. All they do is stand around looking at girls and dont do a shit bit of work. Shame they employ pricks instead of people who really need a job.

    Should have went to the police and done him for sexual harassement. Fuck the other staff, there about as uselful as a politician.

    Fight and dont pay them shit.

    If we all stand up in this country and fight crap customer service and a world full of ass kiss pricks we can get this country back on track.

    Fuck the police, fuck the government and civil servant bastards. Nazi fucks.

    Dont take any pish customer service no more, so many need a job why should others treat their jobs with no care.

  17. 19 Becky Foan

    I have today 26/6/12 contacted the Customer Relations Dept, regarding the 3 strikes and you cant book system. I have been a member of LA Fitness for 8 years and would not expect to receive this kind of treatment. Basically if you do not cancel your class you get a strike when you do not cancel 3 classes you cannot book again for a period of time. They continue taking your money and this was never put in my contract however the lady on the phone tells me that it doesnt form part of my contract, In which case I ask why does it apply to me, she couldnt really answer me other than to day because it does, I have never been informed there is no signage up in the clubs the staff dont know what they are talling about and for this I pay £47 per month and have done for 8 years (What a Bargain)


  1. 1 LA Fitness UK Sucks « James Shi’s musings about everything and nothing…

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