5 On Your Side

85-year-old woman felt 'pressured' into signing pricey gym contract

Posted November 18, 2015

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— An 85-year-old Angier woman uses a walker to get around but said she was pressured into paying thousands of dollars at a local gym.

"I came in to do the yoga," Barrie Doyle said.

Doyle was interested in a senior's yoga class that was covered by her insurance but instead ended up signing a $3,400 contract for six months of personal training sessions at an O2 Fitness in Fuquay-Varina.

"Whether you call it high pressure or what, but immediately he was talking about what he could do to help me before my surgery, we'd do away with the walker," she said.

Doyle said she had reservations but felt pressured to sign the contract.

"It was a $20 discount if I did it that day," she said.

According to Doyle, the trainer told her that with a doctor's note, she could cancel at anytime.

"I kept telling myself not to do it, and he said 'Let's go, let's go, where is your credit card?'" she said.

Doyle said, by the time she reached her car, she knew she had made a mistake.

She brought in a doctor's note requesting the gym release her from the contract because of a current health condition and an upcoming surgery. The note said "she will be unable to safely participate," but the gym manager said, because Doyle's ailment was not permanent, they would not cancel the contract.

Afterward, two of her children contacted the manager but got nowhere.

5 On Your Side made a trip to O2 Fitness with Doyle as she left a second doctor's note outlining multiple health issues. General Manager Denise Doty told WRAL News the trainer told Doyle she would "feel better and see improvement" after the training sessions.

Chief Operating Officer Shawn Stewart said he "would never want someone to feel that they are pressured into something."

Soon after, O2 Fitness contacted Doyle, canceled her training contract and refunded her account.

Doyle said she hopes her experience will resonate with others.

"If I'm the only simpleton that went in, that would be all right, but I wondered if there may be others," she said.

The manager of O2 Fitness said they have more than 1,000 people in the senior's program - Silver Sneakers - which is free through their insurance. As for paid sessions with personal trainers, she said many seniors work with trainers and get help using the machines.

18 Comments

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  • Rebecca Dawson Nov 23, 2015
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    I'm so glad 5 On Your Side brought this to the public's attention. I've been scoping out a new gym to join and now I know to stay FAR AWAY from this place.

  • Donna Gale Nov 22, 2015
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    They were wrong to do this...won't ever catch me in this gym.

  • Stacie Hagwood Nov 21, 2015
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    I love Planet Fitness in Garner. Never had that kind of experience.

  • Laura Baxter Nov 19, 2015
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    Have you heard of the elderly continuously being scammed. They are fed lies and people use forceful tactics to make the believe they need something they don't. Its a huge problem in Florida and scumbags prey on the elderly. One man tried to scam my grandmother into a new roof. Told her it was falling apart and rotting and how the last person who replaced her roof actually scammed her. ALL LIES for Money. Karma will come back

  • ruthhoney Nov 19, 2015

    I had a very similar experience at this gym. Very high pressure sales and extreme difficulty ending the relationship, even after contract term ended. Shady business practices going on there. Stay away!

  • Lori De Stefano Nov 19, 2015
    user avatar

    I left this gym after going there for years because of their dirty practices and I made sure my credit union would not let any of their attempted drafts go through. I had personal property stolen, they did nothing, my monthly dues kept increasing even though I had a contract that stated a set amount for lifetime. Among other issues it's not a good place to workout.

  • Fenway O'Donnell Nov 19, 2015
    user avatar

    Nice job, O2. This press will surely penalize you ALOT more than $3400. Dumb.

  • Skye Thompson Nov 19, 2015
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    I'm the article, she is quoted as saying she FELT pressured. To take from that statement that she should be in assisted living shows a lot about you. The real issue here is not really that they pressured her or that she FELT pressured. The issue is that they told her she could cancel with a doctor's note, and even when she produced that, they refused to let her cancel until 5 On Your Side got involved. It is a poor business practice and is dishonest at best. Pressuring seniors (or anyone) to sign up for something and then giving them no recourse to cancel after telling them that they can cancel is shady.

  • betsymillsaps Nov 19, 2015

    Wayne Douglas III - I guess you are not aware that there are pushy rude people employed by many businessed just because they can pressure a person into signing something that benefits only the business in the long run. And for you to insinuate that this lady should be placed in an assisted living facility is slanderous. You should be ashamed for saying that. One day you might be 85 and I hope every underhanded pushy rude person remembers your name and gets you every day.

  • Wayne Douglas III Nov 19, 2015
    user avatar

    I am sorry that this woman feels like she was forced to sign a contract, but claiming that she was forced, is horse patties. It is just as easy to form the word "NO" out of the mouth of someone who is 25, 45 or 85. No one held a gun to her head. No one tied her to a chair, until she signed. No one made threats to her. If she didn't know what she was doing, maybe it's time for her, to be placed into an assisted living facility.

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