A Gym Membership, an Auto-Draft, and a Lawsuit
The other week, I was reading an article by DC from Young Adult Money regarding getting the most value out of your gym membership. I had made a comment on there about my disdain for gym memberships. My comment was this:
I am not a fan of gym memberships, but that is because Gold’s Gym tried to sue me because they lost my bank account information after 7 months of regular auto-drafts and wouldn’t let me pay them with a check. Idiots.
Well, obviously this got a response wondering if I had created a post about it, so here it is. I hope you enjoy my post about my Gold’s Gym membership gone horribly wrong.
Disclaimer: This incident happened over 10 years ago, but I still laugh about it today. All the details may be a little fuzzy.
This whole story started back in high school. I was a little overweight and didn’t like it anymore, so I decided to change what I was doing. There was a new gym near my parents house, Gold’s Gym, that was just opening. I decided to drop in after school and see what they were offering. I went in and liked the selection of free weights and machines. I wanted to use a nice combination of both in order to get the best all around workout.
I was met with a very enthusiastic individual, which now that I look back was just there to tell me yes to all of my questions. I was so delusional back then. What high school kid wasn’t? I liked what I was being told and then we decided to discuss prices and contract lengths. I don’t remember what I ended up paying per month, but that doesn’t matter for this story.
In order to get me to sign the dotted line, the salesman gave me a no fee signup, with a free month of membership at the end of my contract term. I know my contract was only 1 year because I was a senior and would have been leaving the next year for college. He also told me that they had to do auto-draft from my bank account. I said sure, and presented him with a blank check. What was I thinking? I gladly jotted my John Hancock on the dotted line and we were done.
A few months later….
I went to the gym everyday for 7 months and was losing a good amount of weight, but building some serious muscle. I was loving how I was feeling. The people at Gold’s Gym were nice and cordial when I was there, so I had no reason to think anything was wrong.
One day I walked into the gym and swiped my membership card. The front desk attendant told me that there was an issue with this month’s payment. I asked them for more details and they just told me that they couldn’t pull the money out of my account for some reason. I didn’t know what was going on, as I hadn’t changed my bank information, so I told them that I could pay them with a new check or even cash. They declined and said that they needed to auto-draft it from my account. OK, whatever……
I talked to the bank the next day to see if anything had changed and they assured me that nothing was different with my account. I had been a banking customer there since we moved to NC and the banker was the mother of my best friend. I was sure that there was nothing wrong on the bank’s side, so I went back to Golds to discuss.
I assured Gold’s Gym that there was nothing wrong with my banking info and to have them try to pull the money again. There was enough money in there, so it wasn’t because I was over-drafting. I continued to frequent the gym for a another month, each time them telling me that they were having problems. I continued to offer to pay them in cash or with a check. They continued to decline my offer. Idiots!
After the month following the issue, I had heard nothing from Gold’s Gym. I could tell from my bank statements that they stopped pulling it, but they weren’t stopping me from going into the gym. They stopped asking me and continued to let me use the equipment. I didn’t know what to tell them anymore, so of course I used the equipment.
Here comes the Boom!
One night around the 11 month of my gym membership, I received a phone call when I was doing my homework. I politely answered, even though it was 8PM at night. On the other line of the phone, was a law firm that represented Gold’s Gym. They were SUING me! Those bastards decided that since I wasn’t paying them anymore, they would just sue me for the money I owed them, which was around $150. On top of that, they were going to sue me for fees for the lawsuit, so I was on the line for around $1,000. I was a little taken aback to say the least. I was only 18 years old. What could I have done to make them sue me.
I went back and forth with the very angry man over the phone about what was going on. I told him my many attempts to pay off the balance with cash and check, but they declined all of my offers. I even gave names of the people that I spoke with along with the dates and times that I spoke with them. Thanks Dad for teaching me that one ;).
The lawyer was an angry person that just wanted to berate me until I just gave in. I wasn’t as slick as I am now, so I didn’t know what to do. Luckily, my father is a pretty smart cookie and he heard what was going on. My Dad jumped on the phone and started getting the down low from the lawyer. The lawyer was still very upset and that didn’t set well with my Dad. There was a lot of arguing over the phone until my Dad put the phone down and asked me one simple question.
When did you sign the contract, son?
An interesting question, but an easy one for me to answer. When I signed the contract, I was 17 years old. In NC, you cannot form a legal and binding contract when you are not 18 years old. HAHAHAHA!!!!! My Dad smiled and told the lawyer that his lawsuit was bulls**t, because I was only 17 at the time and there was no parental signature. The lawyer was flabbergasted about this and then he pulled up the contract. The phone call ended abruptly then with the lawyer apologizing and saying the lawsuit was dropped.
Wow, I never expected this post to go this long. I guess I still have some pent up rage about the whole situation. The best part is that Gold’s Gym continues to call me to this day asking me to join with a great discount for previous members. I laugh at them and gladly retell the story. They usually laugh a little and understand. Stupid Gold’s Gym, make sure you know how old your clients are when you sign a contract.
Do you have any fun stories like this that ended up well, but was stressful at the time?
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