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Health Club Chain Agrees to Change Business Practices

Posted April 4, 2007

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— Several health clubs in the Triangle will stop their misleading advertisements and pledge to set aside funds for future refunds, the North Carolina Attorney General's Office announced Wednesday .

Attorneys filed suit against Randall Rohm and Jeff Stec, the former owner and current owner, respectively, of Beyond Fitness, now known as Peak Fitness. The Attorney General's Office claims the company engaged in deceptive advertising.

In fine print below the price, attorneys alleged, an advertisement  for the health club chain states that certain restrictions apply and that the price is based on a 24-month paid in full membership. Rather than allowing consumers to pay a monthly fee of $19.99 a month as advertised, they are required to pay $479.76 at the time the contract is signed.

The state Attorney General's Office also alleges the health club chain bounced checks and failed to pay refunds.

A hearing to discuss the issue was scheduled for Wednesday, but the defendants agreed to change their business practices and to make sure that consumers’ contracts include information about the three-day right to cancel.

The defendants will also provide Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office with proof that they acquired bonds for the former Beyond Fitness clubs. North Carolina law requires health clubs to maintain a bond that can be used to pay refunds if a club goes out of business.

Cooper said in a statement that the lawsuit against the former Beyond Fitness clubs will go forward. As part of the lawsuit, he will ask the court to require the companies to turn over copies of all prepaid membership contracts and to provide detailed information about the sale and ownership of the clubs so that the current owner can be held responsible for resolving complaints and paying refunds.

Ten months ago, Wake County authorities shut down a Beyond Fitness in Cary and told members to leave. They also bolted the doors and placed super glue into the locks. Deputies said they closed the gym because Rohm owed a significant amount of rent.

The Attorney General's Office has been investigating the clubs for almost two years and documented hundreds of complaints.

131 Comments

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  • Felton23 Apr 5, 2007

    Yep, another example of shady practices. I worked out at Spring Forest some back in 2003, then moved to Charlotte. Some poster accused me of being narrow-minded about this topic. Well, I can only speak for myself, but you don't see stories about the YMCA screwing people over, drafting their account unknowingly, deceptive membership contracts, etc, etc, etc. It took me a couple of years but I learned my lesson about the Peak's and Gold's of the world. The staff was a joke at these places as well, no knowledge and from my observation, very "helpful" if you were an attractive female, if not, forget anyone helping you.

  • phoenixelon99 Apr 5, 2007

    (Continued) I finally had to call the Cary gym location and demand to speak to someone...they gave me the extension to call to get into their voicemail system - and after fifteen left voicemails for their financial officer, and a threat to call the AG and BBB, I got a call back. Now, it's been over a year later, and still no refund of the overpayment, much less the contract that doesn't exist.

    The bright side? I joined Anytime Fitness in Wakefield...they are AWESOME! The facility is the CLEANEST gym I've ever seen, and they actually care about their members. I'd recommend them to ANYBODY, and I think they're getting ready to expand. It's such a refreshing change of pace over the moldy walls, broken equipment, and busted showers at Beyond Fitness.

    Now, wish me luck in continuing to try to get my money back from BF...

  • phoenixelon99 Apr 5, 2007

    Though I know nothing of Peak Fitness, I was a member at Beyond Fitness. I joined the (now closed) facility on Spring Forest Rd. I joined in June, 2005 ONLY because there was to be a club opened at the Factory in Wake Forest, which would have been close to my (then) job, my home, etc. I was working part time at Triangle Town then, so it worked out, but then they ended up debiting my account for an extra payment (which I still haven't gotten back), and then last April, they closed the gym entirely. When the gym was closed, I was told my membership had been transferred to Captial Fitness (which I assume is now Peak Fitness, I'm really not sure)...and though I'd paid over $400 for a 3 year deal, and had only used 8 months of it, I could get NO MORE than 9 months at Capital Fitness. I spent the better part of two months trying to call Beyond Fitness' 'Corporate Office' (which was, in actuality, their Cary gym location), and NEVER got anyone on the phone.

  • JFZ Apr 5, 2007

    Thanks for the good publicity regarding Planet Fitness. This story just strengthens our commitment to keep running a great business. The club on 70 will be open by Nov 1st.
    www.planetfitness.com

  • libraplaya23 Apr 4, 2007

    Oh yeah, WRAL and Mr attorney general, I'm reachable at anytime so that you can get the WHOLE story.
    Phillip Henderson
    phenderson@peakfitnessclubs.com

  • libraplaya23 Apr 4, 2007

    I'm disgusted by the poor journalism in covering this story. Both the news station and the so called attorney general should be ashamed that they portrayed Peak Fitness out to be anything like Beyond Fitness. I've worked for Peak Fitness for 4 years, and have worked in this industry for 14 years, and I can say that Jeff Stec, the owner, and Jeff Harley, the president of the company, are 2 of the finest people that I've ever had the pleasure of knowing (in any business). Twice, the owner has slowed down the growth of our company, b/c he felt customer service was slipping due to rapid growth of the company. He said that he wanted to run a business that his parents would be proud of. Yes, Beyond Fitness was shady, that's a no brainer, but all Peak did was buy their facilities. We have no affiliation with them and shouldn't be grouped in the same story as them. News is supposed to be unbiased and not misleading.
    WRAL, you failed at both.

  • alambeth Apr 4, 2007

    That is a horrible story. I feel bad for the people that had to deal with that unethical business. Crazy. They make my job more difficult, I work for a health club and we do NOT all operate like that, not even close. My advice to those searching for a health club - research, contact Better Business for their records/Right Choice Business and ask your friends/co-workers for referrals. They are a bad apple in this industry, trust me. Health is a valuable thing - do not let that change your opinion of getting in shape.
    ~

  • GodsChild Apr 4, 2007

    DANHOGGARD,

    Funny you should say that about reading contracts before you sign them. That is EXACTLY what I did. At the bottom of my contract it is written that I can cancel my contract at any tiem with a 30 day written notice.....I did just that and they still tried to get over. Luckily I had copies of everything and Ive learned to write down who I talk to and when. It makes a diffence. Honestly, it wasn't ABC Financial's fault. There was another company that handled the accounts before them and they should've been the ones to cancel my contract. It was definitely a lesson learned!

  • mramorak Apr 4, 2007

    they're all a bunch of crooks!

  • bigred841 Apr 4, 2007

    cool you to...later pms50....lol..having a conversation on public site that has nothing to do w/the topic...oh well you know stuff happens :)

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