NORWALK, CALIFORNIA -- Despite being very hesitant to sign a binding membership contract for a gym exactly because of the horror stories I'd heard about Bally Total Fitness' poor customer service track record and fee controversies, Bally's was the only gym close to my house at the time, and the 3-year contract is all they were offering to new members. Since then, I have been a loyal customer to BTF for nearly the 3 years, never missing a payment in that time. This past September, I moved to a different state that has no Bally's available anywhere in my area.
I followed every step and stipulation regarding cancelling my membership once I moved, correctly and timely, I.E. Sending the required written notice plus a copy of my lease showing proof of my new residency within days of moving in. From my first phone call to them asking for the address to where I was to send all of my cancellation request information, I was given the wrong address and incorrect information about the cancellation fee pertaining to my situation, and every phone call since I have been consistently given incorrect and/or conflicting information about the cancellation process and my membership cancellation status.
Two managers have told me to expect a reimbursement, however, I received a bill in the mail instead, a month after I submitted all of my paperwork. I called and disputed the bill, not understanding why I had an outstanding balance in the first place (I was ALL PAID UP before I moved), and no one could explain it. I have made at least 5 lengthy phone calls since mid-September (they will put you on hold for 30-40 minutes, easy), and here I am, today, STILL without official on-paper confirmation that my cancellation has been settled.
Even though another manager promised to call me back to update me on the status of things, I haven't heard from anyone since October 7th. So, I called today (November 23rd), and what a surprise! They have a completely different amount due, and this time a firm NO on any form of reimbursement, again, more conflicting information, saying my cancellation had been processed incorrectly the first time around (by them), and that this time, the new amount due is correct. This has been a nightmare, especially since BTF can and will go after your credit for the smallest balance due, which I am doing everything in my power to avoid here.
I have been a responsible, loyal customer, and you wouldn't know it by the way BTF has handled my cancellation process request. I am writing this as a cautionary tale to anyone considering getting a membership at Bally's. Save yourself a world of run-around and heartache, and go with another gym, one that doesn't bully its customers into signing LONG membership contracts with mafioso fine print, then ruthlessly try to penalize them when there is an unavoidable life change that would require the contract to be dissolved. They are, in my opinion, unscrupulous and greedy, trying to nickel and dime their loyal members, and for what?
THIS IS JUST A GYM, PEOPLE!!! Lest they forget. It should be as simple as this: You don't pay? You don't get in. BTF has the WORST customer service, and has treated me like a number, not a name. I will tell all of my friends and family to NEVER walk into a Bally's, and if you get sucked into a deal with them, take heed, you have been forewarned, and God help you if you move or die within the time frame of your contract. Run, don't jog, away from Bally's.
So I joined Bally's in 2004 with a 3 year contract (which is what I agreed to.) So after 2 years later I decided to add my 2 children to MY MEMBERSHIP so I thought. Again no big deal. So in 2008 my membership contract had been up for quite a while so I decided to cancel the membership altogether because I was no longer using it on a regular basis. They had sent me an add a member to my membership in the mail and wrote on that that I would like to CANCEL my membership. That was in June of 2008. I noticed a few months ago (June 2009) that I was still getting charged $20 a month on my bank account and wasn't sure why.
So that following week I called their 800 number and waited what seemed like an eternity to talk to someone. I finally talked to this girl and explained the situation. She confirmed the cancellation in June 2008 but that my children were on their own contract and that I did not cancel theirs. I told her that was ridiculous that they would be put on their own membership when they have no way of getting to the gym without me. I explained to her that the way I understood things they were being added to my own membership. Why else would I think differently right?
So she put me on hold talked to her supervisor and came back and said what she could do for me was credit me back to the beginning of 2009 (in the amount of $101). I said that would be great and I thanked her for that. She said the credit would take about 10 business days and it would go right back to my bank account. So I waited at least 14 days, checking my account regularly for this refund to be applied. That never happened so again I called to find out what was going on (another eternity waiting).
Spoke to a guy who was very nice and explained to me that the reason the refund was not issued was because my children were put on their own 3 year contract which I was not informed that on the first call I made. Apparently when the girl got off the phone with me realized this and put in her notes that we had gotten "disconnected" and hadn't finished our conversation. Total BS because she asked me at the end of our conversation if I had any other questions and I confirmed with her that the refund was going to be applied to my bank account and she said yes. I thanked her for her help and the call ended.
So asked to speak to a supervisor and he gladly did so. She explained to me that I was legally bound by contract to pay it off. I told her that I understand that but it should have been brought to my attention when I called the first time or either a call back or letter in the mail letting me know of this. But received nothing. I told her that it was not my fault that their CSR did tell me of this. She didn't want to even listen to what I was saying and kept saying that she could not do anything. Asked to speak to her supervisor and again this lady proceeded to tell me the same thing and started accusing me of not keeping track of my own checking account.
They were not willing to work with me on anything. After that phone call I decided to file a complaint with the BBB. Then this amazing thing happened!! Bally's agreed to give me my refund almost in full!! (just shy $10) The BBB sent me a response from Bally's and what they were agreeing to do for me and I had an opportunity to respond back. I agreed to the refund and also said that if their customer service had been more effective there would not have been a complaint filed. I believe that the people working in the gym and signing people up need to go over the contract more efficiently so that the person signing the contract knows exactly what they are getting into.
I will never go back to Bally's or recommend them as a good gym to go to. My gym was clean and the people that worked there were very nice but I'm very big on customer service since that is what I do on a daily basis and I expect a reputable company to offer that. Not to question me as a customer when I'm making a valid statement on their screw up. So be careful when adding someone to your own membership because they will be signed up for a 3 year contract even if it's your small children who can't even drive themselves to the gym. :) Thanks.
ROCHESTER, NEW YORK -- This is how bad Bally's is. This incident happened almost 15 yrs ago and I sill remember the misery it has caused me and CANNOT believe they still operate like ** in 2012! When I was a freshman in college at Oswego State University my friends and I would use the campus gym to exercise. In Mid-December of 1997, we got a full month off for winter break so I went home to Rochester for the holidays. I didn't want to miss a workout so I went to my local Bally Total Fitness and asked the Membership Rep if it was possible to just use the gym for a month as I only would be in town for my winter break.
She told me that I'd have to sign a contract since they didn't have monthly memberships but that canceling would be easy as I just had to show I lived X number of miles from their fitness center and I would be released from my contractual obligations. I paid the monthly rate, signed the contract and then in January of 1998 when I was back at college, proceeded to cancel my membership with Bally's. They cooperated with the cancellation but charged me $50 to cancel. This is a fee I was never told about when I signed the contract. Mind you $50 is not that much money but for a broke first year college student, it kind of is.
To break it down - $50 plus the amount I paid for the month I used the gym, turned out to be quite expensive, and had I been properly informed of the $50 fee, I would have never agreed to sign the contract and would've gone elsewhere. Aside from the financial strain, I refused to pay it for the principle of it - I was never explained that I would have to pay the fee. In the end, I disputed the $50 fee with Bally's and they turned over my account to a collection agency. What did that lead to? Countless calls from collectors, letters, and stressful nights, not to mention outrageous interest rates that took $50 and somehow skyrocketed it to over $3,000!
Despite having an impeccable payment history with my credit card company, utility bills, and with rental landlords, I suffered horrible credit b/c of Bally's and had to wait until my late twenties before my credit improved. I am sad to read that after all of these years Bally's has not changed and they are continuing to hurt people and negatively impact so many lives.
The worst part of all of this is that the gym was a fantastic gym but the positive experience I had there is completely tarnished by their contractual and billing practices. Bally's WILL SCREW YOU OVER so before you give them blood make sure you grill the membership reps with any and all relevant questions and get EVERYTHING told to you, PRE-contract signing, IN WRITING!
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA -- I was very disappointed with Bally Total Fitness. The customer service are very rude. They are very nice when you want to open the account with them. But it's really hard for you to cancel the membership. For my suggestion, don't ever sign any contract with bally because they always go by that. Especially for a personal trainer please don't sign any paper or automatic payment. They removed your money from your account even though you did not using their service at all. You obligated to pay the balance and if you do not, they report you the creditor to collect the money and ruin your credit.
My suggestion, don't ever sign any contract with them. They really don't know how to handle a business and doesn't know how to talk to their customer. They always fight over the phone. They took my money for $966 with only one lesson and there is no way I can get my money refund unless I am permanently disabled. Even though you are sick, have a heart problem you still can't get your refund back. You need to continue the service until your heart stop breathing, I guess.
Even though the personal trainer not good and don't help you at all you still can't get your refund. You still have to take the lesson with another personal trainer. What a trick! Basically cheating their customer by giving an empty promise. ** they are bad customer service, and fight on the phone with me. They should know how to solve their customer problem to make them stay but they did not, they said something that made you unhappy. I don't like to write a review but I really not happy with their service and I want everybody should know Bally Total Fitness not a good choice and I want them to know that they have to be careful before signing the contract.
THORNTON, COLORADO -- Shopping For a New Gym? My Summer 2014 BallyTotalFitness Experience. Spending the summer in Thornton, Colorado, I had to temporarily join another gym. For convenience, I joined BallyTotalFitness. I originally joined Bally in 1984, in New Jersey. During the 80's and 90's Bally WAS the place to be. I cannot speak for Bally across the country, but I can speak for the Thornton and Westminster, Colorado clubs. The condition of the clubs is poor. Maintenance seems non existent with a number of machines that either do not function or function roughly.
The Thornton club has the strangest shower heads that spray the water so wide, it becomes a dance to get the water to actually hit your body. The Westminster club has maybe two showers that function correctly with pressure that is so low at times you question whether you turned the water on at all. The other showers are like spinning the wheel on Wheel of Fortune trying to find where the hot and cold water flows. The Westminster club also has the largest men's steam room I have ever seen, BUT it operates when it feels like it, so you may sit in there for 15 minutes before it turns on.
On the positive side they have some very good class instructors although when an instructor stops teaching a class, the online schedules don't seem to be updated. Arriving at a club for a class that is no longer there can be disconcerting. The final straw to my dissatisfaction with Bally is their payment policy. When canceling a membership you MUST cancel within the 10 day deadline or else. I wrote to Bally and requested a refund for the month I was not going to be in Colorado and they stuck to their policy, no exceptions. Granted I was late on the cancellation and maybe I should just be kicked in the ass. It was around Labor Day weekend and I was distracted. Shame on me.
So when shopping for a new gym be sure to inspect the club, check the machines you know you use often and make sure to check out the showers to be sure the faucets work properly. With so many more choices today like LA Fitness, Gold's, Planet Fitness, Life Time Fitness, Anytime Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, Pure Fitness, there is no need to settle.
In addition, some of these gyms have temporary membership options for travelers or those who are working in the area temporarily. If you want to skip fees all together look up Recreation Centers. While traveling through Albuquerque, I joined one that has numerous locations all over the city for $13 a year!!! Best of luck with your fitness goals!!!
NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- I purchased a Bally's membership for my son for Christmas for the past two years. I paid biweekly and the charge was $14.99 which is reasonable. However, my debit card was due to expire so I attempted to call with the new card information. It took me more than a dozen phone calls to reach someone that could help me with this. After spending more than half an hour on the phone with this person, my son attempted to enter the Bally's gym that he works out at and they told him that he couldn't enter due to nonpayment. He immediately called me from his cell phone. I spoke with the girl behind the counter and she gave me a phone number to call.
Meanwhile, they allowed my son to work out that day. I called the number and was given a runaround with the options menu. I tried every option available to try to solve my problem and nothing worked. I tried to get to a '"real" person but that was fruitless. I ended up calling my son back and talking to the girl again. She attempted to make the changes (expiration date) and we thought it was all set. My son visited again two days later and the same thing happened. It took nearly two weeks to get a simple thing such as a change of expiration date resolved.
Lately, it's been over 90 degrees in the city. It was so hot in the facility (because it is not air conditioned) that my son almost hyperventilated and passed out. He vomited after his workout from the heat. We recently found a more suitable gym and attempted to cancel the Bally's membership. We pulled out the contract and it stated that they needed a 10 day advanced written notice mailed by certified or registered mail. So I did that.
15 days later, my bank account was charged again for the biweekly dues. I attempted, once again, to call to straighten things out and request a refund. I called 8 times. Each time I got to the end of the navigation menu only to be told by a recording that there is an overwhelming number of phone calls and to please try my call again later.
Finally, I decided to email them to tell them that they needed to refund my dues. I supplied them with the receipt number from the certified mail that I sent. I received a return email telling me that no refund is due because per the terms of my contract, I needed to contact them via mail. DUH! That's what I did. This place is lacking the proper customer service to make it a worthwhile establishment to even bother to deal with. I'm sure some of the other facilities in different locations and cities are nicer or worse. However, when it comes to the financial aspect of it all, avoid Bally's to avoid headaches!!!
NORWALK, CALIFORNIA -- I Joined Bally Total Fitness in 2007 with a month-to-month membership with no contract. I decided I did not like Bally's and so I canceled my membership in January of 2008. For months I received spam mail from them trying to get me to renew my membership so around June I called in to complain and tell them that I did not want any more offers, spam mail, or advertising from them and for them to completely take me off of their mailing lists. I was put on hold for OVER AN HOUR only to speak to a supervisor to tell me that they can take me off their mailing list but that they could not delete my information from their system.
I thought I was completely done with Bally's but in September I got a BILL from Bally's saying that I owed them money even though I had cancelled my membership nine months before and had asked to be taken off of their mailing lists!!! They had the nerve to charge me even though I had ended my membership with them nine months earlier!!! I called in furious because what they were doing was actually illegal and it is obvious that that kind of mistake in billing is not accidental. They told me they had to file a claim and that a representative would get back to me. Two weeks later I called again because I had not received any calls from them.
I had to spend another two hours on the phone just to clear this all up. At this point I thought that it was all over but throughout 2009 I received offers in the mail to renew my membership and I called in twice to have my name removed from their mailing list. In 2010 I received offers from them and tried again to be taken off their mailing list but they continue to spam me.
Today it's January 22nd and I just got another spam letter from them asking me to renew my membership. STAY AWAY FROM BALLY'S AND TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS WHAT THEY WILL BE IN FOR! It is the work company I have ever had to deal with and not only that BUT THEY ARE DISHONEST. They will bill your credit card after you're membership has ended and never stop mailing you.
MIAMI, FLORIDA -- I have been trying to cancel my member for the past 6 months because the Bally's facility is under severe construction. I do not feel safe entering the building and there is no end in sight to the construction. I've waited almost 2 years for the construction to be complete and it's only getting worse. Bally's policy is to force their members to exercise at another conveniently located clubs.
The other clubs in my area would take approximately 1 hour in traffic to commute which is not a reasonable request. The club that I signed up for is directly between my commute from home to work. Also, a main reason for joining the gym was to use the pool which has been closed due to construction. The manager, **, agrees that I should be able to cancel my membership and explained that he gets these complaints all the time but he does not have the authority to cancel a membership. He explained that the Regional Manager would call me but I never received a call.
The corporate office has not returned any of my calls, which you are placed into a 30 minute queue each time you call, or letters. After waiting to speak to a representative for 45 minutes in March, I was told that they would stop the auto-debit to my credit card but continue to charge me and send my account to collections. They told me my credit would be destroyed so I better keep paying.
I've contacted the Better Business and it seems like there is no one that can get through to these people. I've never experienced such poor customer service in my life. All I want is my membership canceled and my dues returned. Given the club is not operational and the lack of customer service I've received I don't see how this company is still in business. Do not join this club!
FREMONT, CALIFORNIA -- My fiancée and I have been members of Bally Total Fitness for 2 years which was the term period we agreed within our contract. For 2 years we committed ourselves to $54.00 a month between the two of us. At the time we made the agreement we were under the impression, by the recruiter, that once our contract was up we would end up paying a little under $30.00 per month. At this point we felt the contract was tolerable and had no problem signing the contract. Now I will say the first year of the contract we committed ourselves off and on but the last year we would work out faithfully.
I heard complaints from co-workers about how they got screwed by Bally's but I avoided the subject since I had no major complaints. When our contract was up we believed we were going to save money since we were told the monthly payments were going to be $30.00. My fiancée even called customer service just to verify that their records show the same agreement, which of course, it did. So we're going to the gym contract-free with no worries, then we saw our bank statement and noticed Bally's was taking out $60.00!!! My fiancée then called customer service stating the discrepancy, but they were rude and basically told us to look at our contract and then call them back.
We turned our apartment upside down looking for our contract. No luck, but 3 weeks prior when my fiancée called everything seemed up to par. Why would we pay more than what we were paying when were on contract??? We called to cancel our membership and to refund our $60.00 since we strongly felt we were being treated unfairly and my fiancée wasn't going to have it any other way. :) They said they'd look into it. It's been a week and it's still being "processed." Bottom line if you plan on joining Bally's, read your contract carefully, ask questions and don't believe everything they feed you. I am very disappointed on how this company treats their members.
First of all, their membership contracts are actually installment loans that show up on your credit report just like a car loan. They don't bother to tell you this though. What they also don't bother to tell you is that when you've made your last payment and your balance reaches $0, that doesn't mean your contract is canceled. They want you to provide formal (usually written) notice to them of your intention to cancel, otherwise they will continue to bill you each month forever. That's right, forever.
I called their membership service number and after waiting on hold for 15+ minutes, was told my membership was now canceled, but that they couldn't (more like wouldn't) refund this additional charge. I had to file a claim with my bank -- not to mention the Better Business Bureau. Hopefully it'll all get straightened out. On top of their completely fraudulent business and marketing practices, their customer service is totally nonexistent, their locations typically are falling apart with mold everywhere and broken machines, and their personal trainers are amateurs. GO ELSEWHERE!!! AVOID BALLY'S AT ALL COSTS!!!