Health Clubs Are Automatically Freezing Memberships, Offering Credits for Time Gyms Have Been Closed
HARRISBURG—Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that he has secured commitments from the parent company of Philadelphia Sports Clubs (PSC) to institute a number of policy changes that will provide economic relief to members who were charged dues over the last six weeks, despite a state order that shut down all health clubs and gyms on March 16, 2020 to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). PSC has already followed through on a demand by Attorney General Shapiro to automatically freeze memberships at no cost to members, and have now pledged to credit members for time the gym is closed, allow members to electronically cancel memberships without penalties or conditions through April 30, and resolve all complaints filed with the Office of the Attorney General.
“Pennsylvania communities and businesses need to work together to flatten the curve and keep people across our Commonwealth safe during this time,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “Families are worried about paying for rent and groceries during this emergency, not gym membership fees. I thank Attorneys General James, Frosch, and Racine for partnering with our Office to protect Pennsylvanians, not big businesses.”
When Governor Wolf ordered all gyms and health clubs in Pennsylvania closed last month, the vast majority responded by freezing memberships at no cost until the clubs reopened, some going even further by promising to automatically credit or refund consumers for days the clubs were closed. PSC refused to do the same and, instead, continued to charge membership dues — either refusing to honor cancellation and freeze requests or imposing onerous fees and conditions on such requests, even though all clubs were shut down.
Last month, Attorney General Shapiro, as part of a multistate coalition that included the Attorneys General of New York, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, sent a letter to Town Sports International Holdings, Inc. (TSI) — the parent company of New York Sports Clubs, Lucille Roberts, Philadelphia Sports Clubs, and Washington Sports Clubs, among other health and fitness subsidiaries, demanding immediate changes to its policies, including demanding that TSI implement an automatic and free membership freeze.
Following extensive negotiations between TSI and the states, TSI has agreed to:
- Automatically freeze all Philadelphia Clubs memberships, effective as of April 8, 2020, at no cost to members;
- Issue credits to members for dues and fees paid for cancellation or freezing of accounts after March 16, 2020, when Pennsylvania’s executive order directing the closure of health clubs first went into effect;
- Honor all cancellation requests submitted by April 30, 2020, without charging cancellation fees or requiring advance notice; and
- Contact all consumers who filed complaints with the Office of the Attorney General to resolve those individual complaints.
The states will continue to review the business practices to ensure TSI honors its commitments and abides by Pennsylvania’s Health Club Act and other consumer protection statutes, and to also ensure that the company provides further updates when they become available.
The Office of the Attorney General urges all Pennsylvanians to remain vigilant of companies seeking to take advantage of the COVID-19 public health crisis, and to file a complaint with the office’s Bureau of Consumer Protection if they believe they have been a victim of a business at https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/submit-a-complaint/consumer-complaint/.
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