5 On Your Side

Durham man has disconnect with Fitness Connection

Posted June 26, 2014

— For many, the gym is a ritual. For Brad Violand of Durham, it became a hassle.

"I would just like the money that I'm entitled to back," he said.

Violand decided to cancel his personal training sessions at Fitness Connection in Research Triangle Park in April. Following company policy, he submitted a letter requesting the cancellation and handed over his contract.

"Before giving them that, I took photographs of both so I would have some type of evidence that I submitted it," he said. “They said they needed it to find the initial copy of my contract."

Per the agreement, Violand expected his $350 back within 30 days. That should have been early May.
When he didn't get it, he went back to the gym and was told to call customer service.

"I did that, and they told me they had no record of a cancellation being submitted,” Violand said.

After more back-and-forth and tracking down the information they already had, he was told the cancellation notice had arrived but was under “executive review."

5 On Your Side has received multiple complaints against Fitness Connection, which has several locations. The gym has mixed reviews online and an F rating with the Better Business Bureau. Many of the BBB complaints involve billing.

Byron Barnes, director at the RTP location, told 5 On Your Side that Violand's refund "was taken care of" and that he got it. When told that Violand had not received the refund, Barnes walked to the back, saying he would contact the corporate office. He returned to say Violand should receive his refund "any time."

“OK, yeah – my fingers crossed,” Violand said after he was told about Barnes’ response.

Crossing his fingers must have worked; Fitness Connection credited Violand's account the next day.

The North Carolina Department of Justice offers the following tips for consumers searching for a gym:

  • Compare several health clubs. Keep in mind that some clubs with low monthly fees require long membership periods. Be sure to shop around for the best value, which may not always be the least expensive club. Have a clear idea of what you can afford to pay and stick to your budget. Don’t be afraid to bargain.
  • Take a tour and check out the staff. Take a tour of each club during the hours when you’re most likely to exercise. Make sure the equipment you want to use will be available when you’ll want to use it. Make sure the club is clean and well kept, and look for friendly and knowledgeable staff.
  • Try the club. Ask if the health club offers free visits so that you can see if the facility is a good fit for you. Working out at the club will also give you an opportunity to ask current members about the facility. Beware of signing up with a club that hasn’t opened yet.
  • Read your contract carefully. Before you sign the contract make sure you understand the cancellation policy, the services included and the total cost. Get all promises in writing, and make sure the health club gives you an exact copy of the contract immediately after you sign it. Consider a short-term contract rather than signing a two- or three-year contract and getting stuck with a membership you don’t use. Under North Carolina law, the contract cannot be longer than three years.
  • Remember your right to cancel. If the club requires you to pay more than 31 days in advance, the contract must comply with North Carolina’s law on Prepaid Entertainment Contracts. This law provides that you must be informed about your three-day right to cancel the contract. Be sure to read the part that spells out how you must notify the club if you decide to cancel.
  • Watch out for automatic renewals. Ask if your contract expires after a certain period of time or if it allows the club to renew it unless you specifically ask them not to.

If you have a complaint about a health club or yours shuts down unexpectedly, call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Doug Hanthorn Jul 1, 2014
    user avatar

    Well deary me. First of all WRAL, you fail to state if the terms of this contract allow cancellation. You could have read his copy and provided much more information.

    But mainly, I've been with Fitness Connection for about 9 years (starting as Gold's Gym) and I have never ever had a problem. I've paid for training and had to cancel a few sessions due to health reasons and they accomodated me. One has to wonder what this guy did to bring on this apparent bad behavior that he alleges.

    Finally, do any health/fitness clubs have ratings at the BBB other than F, lol?

  • mramorak Jun 30, 2014

    So many crooks!!!

  • 68_dodge_polara Jun 27, 2014

    View quoted thread

    and good luck with that!

  • UpChuck Jun 27, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I would think that you should pay by credit card that way you can call your company and count it as a fraudulent charge if something like this ever happened..no?

  • Kyle Clarkson Jun 27, 2014
    user avatar

    Does this surprise anyone? Fitness Connection is the epitome of shady billing practices.

  • 68_dodge_polara Jun 27, 2014

    Never pay by credit card at gyms anymore. Never...