To RAC/Fitness First & LA Fitness: DO THE RIGHT THING

Late last week, the Rochester Athletic Club (RAC) announced that it had sold two of its Rochester, NY locations to LA Fitness.

One of them is the club where I work out.

I wouldn’t mind all that much, except for one thing: I can no longer work with “my” personal trainer — a trainer who is qualified to do the type of work I need, which is exercise fitness therapy — and to date, neither RAC nor LA Fitness will return the money I pre-paid to work out with him.

By way of background: I’ve been working with this trainer at the Henrietta RAC for about a year. I like the workouts — a LOT. The guy’s expertise and approach to training are a perfect fit for me. I respect him. I’m comfortable with the program he’s put together for me. And it’s a progressive program: what we’re doing now builds on what we’ve done before. And as an exercise fitness therapy program, it’s helping me to deal with issues with neck and shoulder pain and migraine headaches that have been bothering me for YEARS.

The payment arrangement offered to me by RAC, to cover the training, was to pre-pay for bundles of sessions. I’ve been doing this periodically since I first started working out with this trainer.

In November I pre-paid for another bundle of sessions — enough to last me through February or so.

Only now, thanks to this sale to LA Fitness, I can’t use the sessions. As of the date the sale was announced, my trainer no longer works for RAC. He will not be working for LA Fitness.

This shouldn’t be a problem. He can train me now through a different facility.

But RAC/LAFitness has so far refused to refund my money.

It’s over $500. I’m a single mom.

And no, I don’t want to work with some other trainer until the money is gone.

To make matters worse, neither RAC nor LA Fitness was prepared to deal with my situation. I spent over an hour Monday morning being bounced back and forth between the two companies. RAC told me I needed to work it out with LA Fitness. LA Fitness told me I needed to work it out with RAC. (As of today, 12/24/13, the two companies have still not sorted out which party “owns” this problem.) Nightmare.

Finally, “Amanda,” at RAC, said she’d take my question to “the owners” (presumably of Fitness First, which if I understand correctly is RAC’s corporate owner). She said that the owners review refund requests “on a case by case basis.”

Fifteen minutes later, she left me a voice mail saying that my request for a refund had been denied.

Needless to say, I’m now angry as well as frustrated.

Here are the facts of the situation:

1. I prepaid that money to work with a particular trainer. That was understood by RAC when I paid the money. Every time I prepaid for another bundle of sessions, I told the staff that I was buying more sessions with [my trainer’s name]. THAT is what I was buying. It was the same thing I’d purchased every time I prepaid for a new bundle. And RAC knew that was what I was buying.

2. RAC/LA Fitness isn’t out any money for the sessions I will not be able to use. RAC paid its trainers as they did the sessions, not in advance. I.e. they collected money from me against future payment to my trainer. Someone — either RAC or LA Fitness — has my money right now. It hasn’t been paid out. Therefore, there is absolutely no loss to them to refund it to me.

3. The RAC FAQ on the sale includes the following statement:

Q. I have paid for CrossFit/Tanning. How do I get a refund for unused sessions?
A. Your refund should be sent to you within 7days. If you do not receive your refund more than 7 days from the transfer, you may contact 716.204.8880 to see what the status of the refund is.

Clearly, RAC is prepared to refund money for unused services. It seems HUGELY inconsistent, not to mention unfair, that they don’t include prepaid personal training sessions under this policy.

4. “Amanda” told me that the RAC/FitnessFirst “owners” are reviewing refund requests on a “case by case basis.” I’d sure like to know what criteria they’re using to make their decisions. In fact, one of the worst things about the situation is how murky it’s been. RAC members (now former members) have been left completely in the dark about what’s going on, who we should talk to, what procedures we’re supposed to follow, and how these decisions are being made.

I know there are other RAC ex-members in the same boat as me. If that’s you, please email me using the form on the right of the blog, or leave a message in the comments. Several of us are prepared to team up and seek legal action if we need to, to get this resolved in our favor.

In the meantime — RAC. FitnessFirst. LA Fitness: work this out.

And do the right thing. Give me back my money.

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2 Responses to To RAC/Fitness First & LA Fitness: DO THE RIGHT THING

  1. Lisa says:

    I was a member at the Greece RAC. So far, none of the LA Fitness people will give anyone a straight answer. One member was told that there would be no initiation fee, another was told she had to pay $100 to initiate her membership. We were told we had one month to make our decision and none of the classes would change; 2 days later the class instructors were let go or told to leave and the classes changed. When members went to the front desk to complain or ask questions, they were told no one would talk to them, the manger would not see them, or in a couple cases, the LA Fitness representative laughed at the member and said “Thanks for paying my rent.” We have been ignored, lied to, and treated disrespectfully. I’ve been a RAC member for 12 years and have always been loyal. I realize LA Fitness is a large corporation and does not care about the individual, but the treatment I’ve received so far is uncalled for. The professionalism and customer service of LA Fitness is reprehensible.

    • Kirsten says:

      Wow, Lisa, that is awful.

      Hard to believe that they would treat members this way, considering that the members are (presumably) one of the reasons they bought the facilities.

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