Town Sports International, LLC (TSI) and Town Sports International Holdings have refused to refund membership fees charged after the companies’ fitness clubs were closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, a proposed class action lawsuit claims.
Shortly after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020, state governments began mandating the closure of all non-essential businesses, including the defendants’ more than 180 fitness clubs, to slow the spread of the virus, the suit explains.
Despite knowing the gyms would be inaccessible to hundreds of thousands of members nationwide due to government orders, Town Sports International—which operates fitness clubs under the New York Sports Clubs, Boston Sports Clubs, Washington Sports Clubs, Philadelphia Sports Clubs, Palm Beach Sports Club, LIV Fitness Clubs, Around the Clock Fitness, Lucille Roberts, Christi’s Fitness, and Total Woman Gym and Spa brands—continued to charge monthly membership fees to customers’ credit and debit cards and through ACH (automated clearing house) transactions, the case alleges.
To date, TSI has not issued a statement on whether it intends to refund membership fees charged while its fitness clubs were closed, the complaint adds.
The lawsuit explains that club members pay for access to the defendants’ gyms, as well as spa services in some cases, by agreeing to either a year-long “commit” contract or a month-to-month membership. Depending on the club, membership fees can range from $24.99 to $120 per month, the case says.
On April 9, 2020, TSI issued a notice to members in which the company stated memberships would be “put on freeze—at no cost to you—going forward while we are temporarily closed,” the complaint claims. The statement went on to inform members that they would receive “additional days of membership access equal to the number of days paid for while the clubs were closed in your area,” as well as Passport Elite status for one year, the suit says. Further, Elite members were allegedly told that they would be granted a three-month guest membership when the clubs reopen.
The lawsuit argues that although TSI had already charged membership fees for the months of March and April during which members had limited access to the clubs, the notice issued to members made no mention of offering refunds for such charges.
The suit claims proposed class members—TSI club members who were charged fees for the time during which the gyms were closed due to COVID-19 and whose membership agreements do not contain an arbitration provision—were unlawfully robbed of access to the fitness clubs for which they had already paid.
ClassAction.org’s coverage of COVID-19 litigation can be found here and over on our Newswire.