NY Attorney General Letitia James is suing New York Sports Clubs over complaints the chain charged membership fees while closed during the pandemic

  • New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a lawsuit against the parent company of New York Sports Clubs and Lucille Roberts. 
  • The lawsuit alleges that the company charged members fees when New York Sports Clubs and Lucille Roberts locations were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • According to the lawsuit, the New York Attorney General's office has received about 1,848 consumer complaints about New York Sports Clubs and fellow Town Sports International subsidiary Lucille Roberts since March 16.
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New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against New York Sports Clubs parent Town Sports International, alleging that the company inappropriately charged members fees when gyms were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

According to the lawsuit, the New York Attorney General's office has received about 1,848 consumer complaints about New York Sports Clubs and fellow Town Sports International subsidiary Lucille Roberts since March 16. 437 of those complaints were received since September 1, according to the suit. 

James said that Town Sports International did not automatically freeze memberships on March 16, when gyms across New York were shut down due to the pandemic. The attorney general cited complaints from customers who said that when they tried to cancel or freeze their memberships during the shutdown, they had a difficult time getting through to customer service or were told that their cancellation would be subject to a 45-day notice and a processing fee of $10 or $15.  

The gym chain also charged members for April's membership dues despite gyms being closed, the lawsuit says.

On April 8, after James sent a letter to the company, the company implemented a freeze on dues and said it would issue credits "equal to the number of days paid for while the clubs were closed in your area."

But, according to James' suit, consumers have not received the credits as promised. Members have also said that the gym chain began to charge dues again on September 1, including for those whose local gyms had not yet reopened. 

"Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, New York Sports Clubs and Lucille Roberts have done everything possible to flout their obligations and take advantage of members," James said in a press release about the lawsuit. "Time and again, these gyms have illegally sought to lift up their precarious financial state at their members' expenses, even though many of these very members were simultaneously being crushed under the weight of financial hardships. Today's suit aims to end TSI's illegal efforts to run its members ragged, simply to spot its bottom line."

Representatives for Town Sports International did not return Business Insider's request for comment. 

Town Sports International, which is a subsidiary of Town Sports Holdings, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on September 14. Gyms have struggled as many continue to exercise at home during the pandemic. Gold's Gym filed for bankruptcy at the beginning of May, while 24 Hour Fitness filed in June.

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