Schuette Files Suit Against West Michigan-based Gym Chain Family Fitness Alleging Numerous Consumer Protection Act Violations
released on September 26, 2017
found in newsletter: September 2017
LANSING – Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced he has filed a class action lawsuit against the West Michigan-based fitness chain, Family Fitness, in Kent County Circuit Court.
The complaint asks the Court to put a stop to various practices by Family Fitness that allegedly violate Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act, and seeks monetary relief on behalf of consumers. This action comes after Schuette has received 286 consumer complaints against Family Fitness in 2017.
“These entities have been taking advantage of the hard-working people in West Michigan, and it’s time for that to stop,” Schuette said. “It is my hope that we can reform Family Fitness’ business practices, and get some money back in the pockets of many consumers. We will also ask the Court to make sure the credit reports of Michigan consumers no longer show debts arising from unlawful conduct by these fitness clubs.”
There are fourteen Family Fitness centers in West Michigan, with locations in Allendale, Alpine, Grand Rapids, Grandville, Holland, Muskegon, North Muskegon, Norton Shores, Plainwell, Portage, Sparta, Standale, and Wyoming.
Cease and Desist Issued in July 2017
In July 2017, the Attorney General issued a cease-and-desist order to Family Fitness after receiving numerous complaints asserting that the fitness chain was holding consumers responsible for paying hundreds, or even thousands of dollars on cancelled gym membership and personal training contracts. Many consumers had received credit reporting information showing they were being pursued by a collection agency acting on Family Fitness’ behalf. In that notice, the Attorney General advised that his staff would continue reviewing documents and interviewing consumers and then would determine whether it was necessary to open a formal investigation or file a lawsuit.
Details of Class Action Suit
A lawsuit became appropriate after the Attorney General’s ongoing review revealed numerous other alleged violations of the Consumer Protection Act, including:
Consumers have entered drawings and are told by telephone they have won free memberships, but—when they show up to collect their prizes—they learn there are actually monthly costs;
Consumers who have won drawing prizes are not given any written description of the prize, notice that they will be subjected to a sales presentation when they come to collect it, nor any descriptions and costs of the services Family Fitness intends to solicit them about when they do come, as required by the Act;
Misrepresentations are made to consumers at the time of signing up with Family Fitness. Such representations relate to topics including the involved costs, the duration of contracts, and the consumers’ right to cancel contracts. Such misrepresentations range from false or misleading statements that the membership or personal training arrangements can be cancelled at any time, to failures to disclose important information—such as Family Fitness’ expectation that a consumer doing a free trial must use the facilities a specified number of times in order to be able to cancel the free trial;
For consumers who have had memberships with other gyms that have closed, Family Fitness has made confusing and misleading representations regarding their legal obligations to Family Fitness;
In recent situations, Family Fitness appears to be putting consumers under duress to enter into new membership agreements by telling them that is the only way they can remove prior alleged debts for which the consumers have been put into a collections process.
Family Fitness operates through a series of limited liability companies formed under Michigan law, each of which has been named as a defendant in today’s lawsuit.
What Happens Next
The Attorney General anticipates bringing a motion for injunctive relief that will seek to require Family Fitness to adhere to the requirements of the Consumer Protection Act. Meanwhile, Family Fitness will have an opportunity to respond to the lawsuit by either filing a motion or answer with the Court.
File a Complaint
Consumers may file a complaint online by going to Online Consumer Complaint/Inquiry, otherwise they may send their complaint by regular mail or fax as listed below. If you have any questions, please call the Consumer Protection Division Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM at 517-373-1140 or toll free 877-765-8388.
Consumer Protection Division
Lansing, MI 48909
Toll free: 877-765-8388
Online Complaint Form
Original Press Release