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Gym accused of passing ex-members’ ‘debts’ to collections agency after contract cancellation

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Family Fitness, a local gym chain, is accused of leaving former members with unexpected debt by sending their information to a collections agency after the customers canceled their contracts.

Several frustrated people have reached out to the FOX 17 Problem Solvers about the issue.

"It's four years. Never heard a thing," Scott Rypma, a former member, said. He said he joined the Family Fitness on Plainfield in 2013 but quit after having issues about having 24-hour access as advertised.

Rypma said he talked to a manager and "explained to him what was going on, and that I wanted out. It's supposed to be 24/7. So I'm going to go to a different gym that's actually 24/7. He said, 'Yeah, we're going through some lawsuits, so I understand your frustration, and I'll take care of it.'"

Rypma said he thought everything was fine after he canceled his contract and withdrawals from his checking account ceased. But in April this year he got a letter in the mail that Swift Funds Financial Services, a collections agency, claimed he owed $250, he said.

"I have the same phone number, same email that I put on my contract since I've had it since 2005," Rypma added, "and I had never got a call or an email."

When he called Family Fitness, Rypma said the manager told him "it's out of our hands."

Crystal Patterson, another customer, said her supposed debt is nearly 10 times that amount. She said she was dissatisfied with the Sparta location and decided to end her membership in late 2016. She thought she was in the clear until the gym contacted her anbd said she owed $450. She said she started making payments, but then she got a surprise call from the collections agency.

"It was $2,077," she said.

Patterson said she got no calls or letters notifying her of a problem.

"I told them I'm going to contact Problem Solvers," she said. "I know I'm not the only one that this has happened to."

We found Family Fitness currently has a 'C' rating with the Better Business Bureau, along with 98 complaints.

FOX 17 tried reached out by phone and email to the Family Fitness corporate office, but we have not received a response. The collections agency hung up on us.

Consumer advocates recommend gym memberships that allow you to pay monthly or quarterly with no contract. They also suggest you avoid multi-year contracts. If there is a contract, some gyms require that you send a certified letter to cancel. Document that, and maintain any and all communications. Of course, always read the fine print.

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  • Cody Christensen

    My wife had this happen in the Sparta location from nearly r years ago say in she owes a butt load! And of course went to collections. Any word on how to solve this problem????

  • Andrea Mosher

    I’ve got this same problem. Just got notification last week that $1500 in collections showed up on my credit. I’m really at a loss on how to handle this. I went through the process of filing a complaint with BBB last summer, but it was unsuccessful. I sent them a cease and desist via email, requesting all communications through the mail. Never heard a single thing after that until the update on my credit report came in. I’m trying to dispute that now.

  • Campbell

    This article is so wrong, NONE of this is true. There is so much hidden behind this story. Interviewing people who signed up and then actually didn’t make the payments…. Sorry it’s not free. Sorry you signed a contract/agreement you couldn’t follow through with……That’s your own fault. Lol be smarter. Don’t blame the gym for your stupidity. Family Fitness is honest , this article makes me cringe.

    • Eric R

      Ha! You must either own the place or be a manager there. Family Fitness is a joke that promises one thing, pushes you to sign, then craps all over you later. I’ve had nothing but bad experiences with this place.

    • michelle

      Yeah the over 80 people who commented on the origional article- having suffered from the fraudulent charges- are all lying and the criminals …bull. You obviously work for the company, cringe all you want this publicity is accurate and warranted.

  • Denise Bruns

    Years ago family fitness opened I paid 100.00 deposit until I was given my membership. I requested a refund which I was denied. I was told by the owner there was no record I provided the receipt was never given a refund.

  • Jennifer Forsythe

    My husband cancelled his account a few years ago…talked to management and everything . Just a few days ago it shows up on his credit saying he owes hundreds! Management had said they closed his account when he stopped going there. No notification….it’s a scam!! We will go after them

  • Hamid stalling

    I am a realtor from Muskegon Mi and have faced the same issue with Family fitness. I attempted to cancel my membership in 2 days after I found out I was lied to about the contract. I attempted to call the number they gave me and no one answered me. So I went back to the muskegon location and they told me I have to swipe my card so many times first and then they can refund me which made no sense. So I kept calling and finally the lady said someone would call me which never happened. I have saved emails and recordings of the conversation. After the 30 days were up I received a email saying it was to late to receive a refund which further showed me this family fitness office was fraudulent and so we’re the people who was over this branch. They later sent me a collection which I look forward to fighting. I am a local realtor who stands on honesty and integrity which has given me many referrals. I hate that no matter how good you try to be there is still those in the world who will do whatever it takes to steal your money. I will gladly share my emails with fox as proof of what others and I have went through with Family fitness. I went to the family fitness location in north muskegon and the manager there was very nice and he told me the other office lied to me and to call the head office which they didn’t answer me. I thought I was the only one but after reading this story I am motivated to share mine to help someone else avoid this situation.

  • Vanessa

    This place is a scam! I was told I ‘won’ a discounted rate from something I entered at a convention. So I decided to give it a try. I never once even used the gym. It wasn’t even 30 days in when I called and asked to cancel my membership as I had lost my job. I figured seeing as I had already paid 3 months i advance and never even used the place, it wouldn’t be an issue. The corporate office got very nasty with me and said they didn’t give a damn about my circumstances. Not even 2 weeks after I contacted them, they had huge signs up that said no contract and cancel any time. I had to switch my debit card as I refused to pay them any more money and they would not take my card off file. I honestly hope this place goes under. Horrible service.

    • Eric R

      Same exact thing happened to me. “Won” a “free” membership from a Drive game. Funny enough, I decided to enter again at a Griffins game just to see if i would “win” again, and lo and behold, I got another call a couple of days later. When I told them that on the phone, the caller got really quiet and hung up after apologizing.

  • Mike Anderson

    I only went to the gym 3 times and do too false information they told me during enrollment I told them I wanted to cancel. They told me I was cancelled and now I have a collection agency calling me more than a year later for an amount of $2,400. If anybody in this comment section has an answer as to how I get out of this problem please contact me and let me know. This is a nightmare.

  • Randy

    Just an FYI… you can file all the complaints you want with the BBB. They have no teeth and can’t do a thing for you legally. If you want action, you need to call and file a complaint with the State’s Attorney General Office. That will get their attention and get the ball rolling.

  • Judiel corona

    I’m going thru the same issue with family fitness in Grand Rapids location. I terminated my contract with them and they kept billing me after so late fees and charges for payments not going thru accumulated to about 4-500 dollars which is now in collections I wish I never signed up with them. What a headache.

  • carla hansen

    My situation was: I canceled after a year and than about 16 months later they tried to pull money out of my account. When I contacted them they said it was a computer glitch. Yeah right!

  • Lisandra

    I just received the same email two weeks ago. four years ago I tried to pay my fees and I was told that my account ” could not be found” I called their corporate office and the actually gym in Holland and I kept being tosses back and forth between the Holland gym and corporate office. Now I owe over 2000 dollars and am told there is nothing that cant be done. Its a scam If I had money for a layer I would sue.

  • Peter Postma

    This is the same gym that violated the do-not-call policy for years, giving excuses or claiming that they never called. They also threatened law suits against anyone who reported them or exposed this behavior on social media

  • Artasia

    They got me too!! Canceled my membership almost 3 years ago and I have over $1200 on my credit repost and they just charged me more money on it a few days ago!! Please if you guys find out more info about getting this removed please reply!

  • L. Graham

    I’m not affected by this situation but want to be sure all those who are know they can file a protest with all three major credit bureaus, stating their case. That way, it’s on file for any other company that is considering your credit score; they can see that it’s not an uncontested situation. In many cases, those other companies will be aware of negative news stories about this company and will take that into consideration when reviewing your score. In many cases, the credit reporting agencies will remove the negative reports from your credit history.

  • QuentinnDixon

    I called to cancel my membership and the guy said I have to come in and pay 50$ so I did and then I found out by the corporation that you can’t cancel your membership that way. So I was stuck paying for the rest of my contract which I didn’t continue to pay now I have it on my cr3dit.

  • Shawana

    SwiftFund is calling me because the gym I had a contract to closed and sold my contract to family fitness, now SwiftFund will not stop calling and I do not know what to do. SwiftFund will not send me a copy of my contract.

  • Kyra

    I “won” a 2 yr membership. Never used the place let alone recieved a members badge. Somehow they started sending me collections for i believe 400. Rediculous.

  • Jamie James

    The exact thing happened to me I ended up setting with the collection agency only to protect my credit. Total scammers , not surprised at all!

  • Dave

    In Portage. Had a really weird experience with them. My contract ended in Dec a couple years ago. I should have contacted them to end it…didn’t. My bad. I got a new debit card so figured it’d just go away after a few emails. A couple months go by and their charges all of a sudden start showing up on the new debit card. It had the same numbers but different expiration and security code. I don’t know how they figured those out other than someone just guessing. I know I didn’t give that new info to them.

  • Lauryn

    I cancelled my membership over 5 years ago and moved out of state for work. Never got a letter, phone call or email from family fitness. Then one day last year my credit report gets hit with a charge of over $2000! FF charged me a fee of $300 to remove it if I never talked about it on social media. I paid it, and Swift Funds never took it down.

  • Barbara Wood

    I too have this problem! I received no letters or phone calls. There is over $2,000 on my credit report from them. Please tell me how to fix this?

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