A proposed class action filed against Massage Envy Franchising, LLC in August 2018 has beentransferred from New York to the Northern District of California.
The lawsuit against the massage parlor chain says the company’s membership program entitles participants to receive one 50-minute massage per month in exchange for a monthly fee ranging between $39 and $59. Once the initial term of the membership agreement expires, the case says, a customer’s membership is automatically renewed. The agreements, both for the original term and the renewal term, stipulate that the consumer will pay aset, agreed-upon monthly feeuntil their membership agreement is canceled.
As the complaint tells it, however, Massage Envy has failed to abide by its contracts – which state “your membership will automatically continue on a month-to-month basisat $[X dollar amount] per monthuntil your membership is cancelled”– in that the company “unilaterally raises the monthly membership fee amount.” Massage Envy, according to the suit, sometimes ups its membership fees by as much as 35 percent without customer consent or knowledge. From the complaint (emphasis ours):
“Massage Envy’s Membership Agreement containsan express clause with an explicit, locked in amount that is to be paid each month‘until [a member’s] membership expires or is terminated in accordance with this agreement.’ The membership fee amount for the initial term as well as the auto-renewed extension term are on the first page of the contract. The first page is the only page to the agreement that is required to be signed by the customer. Additionally, the auto-renewal provision of the agreement, including the monthly fee amount, must be initialed by the new member. Through this process,eachmember of the Class is purportedly assured that the membership fee amount will neverincrease once they execute the agreement and begin making timely payments."
The suit further alleges that Massage Envy’s business model “makes it very difficult for a member to discontinue” the program. Specifically, the lawsuit claims the defendant intentionally complicates the process by allowing cancellation only if:
A member relocates their residence to “more than 25 miles” from any Massage Envy location; or
A doctor certifies that the individual is “physically unable to receive massage services.”
The lawsuit looks to cover a class of consumers who were or are at present enrolled in a Massage Envy membership program and whose monthly fee was raised beyond the amount stipulated in their membership agreement.