BOSTON (CBS) — Attorney General Maura Healey Office’s announced Tuesday that it would be suing Boston Sports Clubs for the way it treated members during the coronavirus pandemic. All BSC locations closed on March 16 and remained closed until early July, then some closed again without warning.
The AG has received over 2,000 consumer complaints from people who couldn’t cancel their memberships after reaching out to the company through multiple avenues. Some said they were still charged after receiving a cancellation notice.
According to the complaint, BSC misled members about their rights and continued to charge those who requested cancellation, which violates Massachusetts consumer protection laws.
“From the start of this pandemic, Boston Sports Clubs has shown a total disregard for its members, for good business practices, and for the law,” AG Healey said. “This company claimed it wanted to do the right thing, but it reneged on its promises. We are taking action today to secure relief for the thousands of people who have been cheated by BSC.”
After Healey sent a demand letter in April, BSC agreed to stop billing their members while their gyms are closed, placed a no-cost freeze on all accounts, and allowed members to cancel their contracts without paying a fee.
“However, many members who submitted cancellation requests in April, May, and June still were not canceled. In July, when BSC resumed limited operations, memberships that were automatically frozen were unilaterally unfrozen and accounts were automatically debited without consent. BSC also sent emails to its members trying to persuade them not to move forward with their cancellations,” said a statement from the AG.
After, BSC refused to process new cancellations unless members paid a $10 cancellation fee, If they did not pay the fee, BSC continued to charge them monthly. According to the AG, BSC also threatened to refer members to debt collection agencies when members did not continue to pay for the memberships they had previously canceled.
The owner of Boston Sports Clubs filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September.
BSC agreed to refund members and allowing members to cancel without a fee as long as they were operating in a reduced capacity but the AG said they have not been following through.