Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has ordered West Michigan-based Family Fitness Centers to cease and desist what the attorney general said was its "unlawful" and "misleading" practice of collecting membership cancellation fees.
The attorney general alleges that Family Fitness, which operates 14 gyms in the state, has lured its members into making unjustified payments after canceling their contracts with the company. Since 2011, Schuette's office has received 103 complaints related to this issue. Forty-eight complaints have been filed in 2017 alone.
“When consumers enter into contracts, the law requires that they be treated honestly and fairly,” Schuette said in a July 19 media release. “Using the threat of enormous penalties as a way of keeping customers locked into membership agreements misleads consumers about their legal rights.”
Schuette is interviewing those who filed complaints and "will take necessary steps by either opening a formal investigation or filing suit against the chain," the release stated. In the release, he advised Family Fitness that his actions will be partially based on the company's actions following the cease and desist order.
The release from the attorney general said that Family Fitness executives believe the company is entitled to "payment of the full contract amount" when members cancel or attempt to cancel their membership contracts and personal training agreements. Contracts typically range from one to three years, leading to payment requests of hundreds or thousands of dollars for "unused" time.
The Better Business Bureau of West Michigan has received 137 complaints about Family Fitness in the last three years, according to a 24 Hour News 8 report.
Family Fitness on July 19 provided the following statement to 24 Hour News 8: “Family Fitness Michigan will not mediate or share member information with broadcast or any social media organizations. We encourage any member who wishes to discuss their current agreement to reach out to our corporate office directly. We look forward to continuing to serve the tens of thousands of our customers who enjoy our fitness centers every day.”
Family Fitness' West Michigan facilities are located in: Allendale; Alpine; Grand Rapids; Grandville; Holland; Muskegon; North Muskegon; Norton Shores; Plainwell; Portage; Sparta; Standale; and Wyoming.