The Great LA Fitness Cancellation Scam

Generally speaking, I’m not one to go online to complain about things going on in my life. There’s enough negativity in the world. I’d prefer not to add to it. Even so, I’ve run into a problem I’d like others to know about. It’s a ridiculously unnecessary situation that a big corporation is using to unethically siphon money from its own customers.

Our story begins in 2018 when I joined LA Fitness. I wanted to start working out again, and I also thought I might start playing racquetball, a sport I hadn’t played in nearly 30 years, but which I used to really enjoy.

Signing up was easy. I just gave the staff at LA Fitness my information (including a credit card), and just like that, I was a dues paying member at one of the countries biggest training facilities. At the time, I was told that there was no contract and I could cancel my membership at any time.

I used my membership infrequently. I worked out a few times, and I played racquetball a dozen or so times over the course of 12-18 months. Even so, the payments kept coming out of my back account, including a $41 charge six months after I joined that I was never told about. I’ve since learned that the charge is an annual fee, but no one has been able to explain why I’m being charged an annual fee or what benefit it provides me. It appears to just be a money grab on the part of LA Fitness.

Fast forward to April, 2019. I had been thinking about cancelling my membership for a few months, but hadn’t done anything about it. Then, my debit card information—the card I used to pay the LA Fitness membership—was stolen as part of a data breach at another company. As a result, my bank had to issue a new card. So, on May 5, when LA Fitness tried to run my old card, it was declined. The troops at LA Fitness went into Defcon 5 mode. They began calling on May 3 (They must try to run the card a day or two before the payment is due), and continued to call three to five times a day, including on evenings and weekends. They were desperate to get my May payment. Over the course of the next week, they called a total of twenty-four times.

During one of the early calls, I spoke to a staff member from my home club and told her I was traveling, but would take care of the payment as soon as I returned home. I actually could have given her my new card number right then, but I wanted to review my bank account first to see when the $41 was deducted so I could discuss it with her. At the time, I didn’t know it was an annual fee. I also wanted to talk to her about cancelling my membership, since I rarely use it, and I’m getting ready to move away from my home club.

Despite my discussion with the staff member from my home club, the calls continued. Today, I called LA Fitness and was told that the $41 I was charged (in addition to my monthly membership fee) was for the annual fee. She could not explain the annual fee other than to say it’s charged annually on all memberships.

I wasn’t going to argue. If every member is charged an annual membership fee, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be. I wish the staff person that signed me up would have been up front with me about the charge, but I didn’t see any reason to bring that up during my phone call.

Then I said I wanted to cancel my membership. This is where things really started to unravel. I was told that, “for security purposes”, I couldn’t cancel my membership over the phone. I was told I would either need to come into the club to fill out a cancellation form or I could complete the form on-line. In either case, the form would need to be mailed to California, and my membership (along with the associated charges) would continue until the LA Fitness corporate office saw fit to officially cancel my membership.

It’s important to point out that LA Fitness has a very nice website where, with the click of a button, you can join the club, reserve a racquetball court, sign up for hot yoga, or join a Pilates class. It’s a very user-friendly site with tons of functionality, and apparently no security concerns. What you can’t do on the website is cancel your membership. You can only do that by sending a hard copy of a cancellation form to a P.O. Box in Irvine, CA. And, as I’ve found out from reading other complaints on the Interwebs, LA Fitness has one of the worst mail handling operations in all of corporatedom. They tend to lose mail at an alarming rate. And that lost mail is primarily cancellation forms.

To be sure, the cancellation process at LA Fitness is a con job. It is designed to unnecessarily delay membership cancellations in order to continue charging customers another month or two (or more). It’s designed to put total control of membership cancellations in the hands of LA Fitness, not the customers who use the facilities and pay the membership dues. In a word, it’s a scam.

Even so, I mailed my membership cancellation today. My guess is that my membership will not be cancelled for a couple of months, but LA Fitness promises that they will email me when it is cancelled. In the meantime, I will continue to be charged a monthly membership fee, as well as a late fee since they don’t have my new card number and can’t successfully charge me. We’ll see where this goes, but my guess is my membership cancellation isn’t the end of this story.

If you’re interested in reading about others who have been scammed by LA Fitness, Google “LA Fitness Cancellation Fraud” or simply take a look at these websites:

The Scam That Is LA Fitness

LA Fitness Membership Cancellation Cheating

How to Cancel LA Fitness Out of Your Life Forever!

 

Update (5/17/19) — The cancellation form I sent to LA Fitness was printed and mailed in an envelope. However, the form is designed to be folded and mailed without an envelope. So, I printed off another copy of the completed form and mailed it yesterday. I don’t want to give LA Fitness any excuse to delay the cancellation of my membership.

Update #2 (5/20/19) — As it turns out, I didn’t have to wait an outrageous amount of time for my LA Fitness membership to be cancelled. I received an email from LA Fitness today letting me know that they received me cancellation request and my membership will be cancelled effective May 31, 2019. I still owe $23.53 for the month of May, but that’s a small price to pay to be done with LA Fitness.

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17 Replies to “The Great LA Fitness Cancellation Scam”

  1. I just went through this process but in the robinson twp La Fitness of Pittsburgh PA,
    I went in before 9 am and spoke to the person sitting at the front desk, I told him I wanted to cancel and he said no problem he did everything needed and would forward my cancellation to the mngr.
    three months later I just got re billed again.. such a crackpot company..

  2. This article is true, I have gotten out of work early in order to cancel with a manager and it DOES NOT WORK. The manager is unreliable, they will say they cancelled you but them continue to charge you.

  3. YOU are not accurate…..I could not cancel as well. Had to send in the forms – separate forms for 5 people on MY account. You absolutely cannot cancel in 30 seconds. It is a complete, absolute hassle.

  4. Maybe in California, but not in Washington! My only option is snail mail. I can’t even go into LA because of Covid. It is an ridiculous cancellation system and complete hassle.

  5. I’ve had memberships at a number of different gyms, and L.A. Fitness saw me as a member on 2 different occasions (both memberships at the same location), and honestly speaking, ALL gyms have a similar setup when it comes to cancellation of a membership. The worst for me was actually Charter Fitness, whereas, you couldn’t even go in to the gym to cancel. You literally had to send an express letter to the billing department letting them know you want to cancel. I have found that L.A Fitness and Planet Fitness make it fairly easy to cancel with them. True, it’s inconvenient to have to go in (let’s face it, you’re cancelling because you either CAN’T or DON’T want to go in), but once you do you can have your membership cancelled in just a few minutes. As far as payments, I’ve found that the best practice is to go in either just before your due date, or right after you’ve paid. In doing this, you’ll either owe nothing and be allowed access until the next due date, or (worst case), you’ll be prorated a few dollars. Awareness and preparedness are the key elements when dealing with gym memberships. I’m sorry you had such a bad experience, and I can relate, but perhaps these tips will help you in the future should you choose to enroll at another facility. Peace and respect to you.

  6. Planet Fitness does the exact same crap. Charges an annual fee that they don’t tell you will be reoccurring and you have to send a letter to cancel which holds up the process.

  7. During this virus pandemic, aqua arobic classes are closed at LA Fitness. Aqua arobics is the only activity I’m interested in. Since it’s not my fault, i asked them to stop debting fees from my bank account. They gave me the corporate office’s number to get my money back which I’ve been calling for the past 3 weeks without success. The recorder even took my home number and said someone would call me back
    I’m still waiting. I suppose I’ll have to cancel my debit card to keep them from taking another fee. They are definitely crooks. They’ve already taking $59.00 from my account twice. When I asked why they took a second annual fee, they told me it was an initiation fee. An initiation fee had never been mentioned before
    It’s obvious, when they gave your card, they use it when and whatever way they want too.

    1. I spent an hour and a half on hold for day 2 and still no answer with corporate. Not to mention my membership was “frozen” and LA Fitness decided I wanted to unfreeze it the day they opened and charged me $350 for personal training and membership fees. I didn’t even know they were open. Guess they want to see my inner Karen come out. 🙄 Mind you I was charged the same $350 AFTER my location closed for COVID and I had to spend hours recovering my money and “freezing” my account. Did I mention my card expired during the COVID shutdown and yet they still managed to charge me when they reopened, which is how I even figured out they reopened. LA Fitness… Meet Karen.

  8. During this virus pandemic, aqua arobic classes are closed at LA Fitness. Aqua arobics is the only activity I’m interested in. Since it’s not my fault, i asked them to stop debting fees from my bank account. They gave me the corporate office’s number to get my money back which I’ve been calling for the past 3 weeks without success. The recorder even took my home number and said someone would call me back
    I’m still waiting. I suppose I’ll have to cancel my debit card to keep them from taking another fee. They are definitely crooks. They’ve already taking $59.00 from my account twice. When I asked why they took a second annual fee, they told me it was an initiation fee. An initiation fee had never been mentioned before
    It’s obvious, when they get your card, they’ll use it when and whatever way they want too.

  9. I have been trying to cancel my account for several YEARS. I have gone into the club, e-mailed, written and called multiple times, all to no avail. I went into my bank(CHASE), explained the situation and to asked them to stop the payments, and I was told they could not do that, I’d have to cancel the account. I had just told the woman I have tried unsuccessfully to cancel the account multiple times. To say the managers at LA Fitness are unreliable is putting it mildly. In my experiences, they are downright shady. Three managers at two different locations in person, numerous phone calls, emails and letters, and here I sit, several years later, still being charged $25/month. It’s beyond maddening. I will not be at all surprised to read about someone going postal at an LA Fitness for this very reason. They have intentionally designed it and must have penalties in place for any manager who actually does cancel an account.

  10. Quick note as an employee so you can say I’m as biased as you want. Annual Fees are industry wide. I can’t say with 100% confidence but if I had to bet most gyms have you come in cancel. (Assumption) I am allowed one assumption just like you when you wrote an entire bash article before something bad even happened. I hope that your next gym helps you achieve your goals and it allows you to change your outlook on life.

  11. Well my situation is even worst…in March 2020 every gym closed due to the pandemia of Covid 19…and every gym remained closed for at least 3 months. On June i decided to cancel my membership with the gym due to my financial situation…and so i print my cancellation letter on June 10th and mailed it in order for them to cancel my membership before reopening their doors so i didnt get charge anymore. They reopened 2 weeks after and the first thing they do is charge me for the month without even being open for 3 months. Then a week after charging me they sent the email confirming my cancellation. When i contacted them letting them know about my situation nobody responded. Ive been emailing corporate for a week now and nothing. When it comes to charging the clients they dont hesitate…but to get back to you when youre being charge unfairly and they dissapear.

  12. I am currently going thru this similar thing now. I had to cancel my bank card because they keep withdrawing from my account. I have cancelled my account three times and received email from their corporate office refunding my money back. I thought they were out of my life until recently they started drafting again. They said in order to cancel I have to pay them another 2 months. Which did not make since because I was given a refund. I tried to call their corporate office and no one is answering. I know its 18.00+ but its the principal. They have access to our accounts and they refuse to delete the information because the want to keep stealing from us.

  13. In addition, my bank did a charge back and now they keep calling for 18.49. They said I need to pay the 2 more month of 18.49 to make sure the membership is cancelled. After I told her I have paid all the monies I am going to pay and i told her i have correspondence and a refund from LA fitness of drafting monies out my account. I even sent a copy of any other monies owe was part of a chapter 7 bankruptcy. She told me I still owe 18.49 for june and july. I refuse to pay because I cancelled my membership in feb. I did not have access to no facilities and I do not understand how I still owe when I cancelled 3x. It is a scam. Nobody will answer their phones in their corporate office and nobody will respond back.

  14. Hi, this is what I am going thru since the Signature club in Windermere, fl closed on 3/25/20 due to Covid19 . I called and wrote immediately to cancel personal membership since we both are over 65. they still charge $619 twice on 3/25 and again on 6/25
    520 twice. Totally ignore all all mail with tracking number, all emails
    one was returned back . Now I am disputing all the charges and providing bank with all document of comunications. I recieved one call when they opened to tell the membership number i provided was set up by our health provider?

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