Saturday, July 18, 2020

LA Fitness Billing: A Horror Story

I've been a member of LA Fitness on and off since around 2001.  While their gyms are convenient, the business practices are inexecrable. (Note, "inexecrable is the adjective meaning "like excrement" or "shitty").

This time, when the pandemic hit in March, I logged into my LA Fitness App to find out how to cancel my membership. There's no way to do it. So I did five things:

  1. I used the email and contact us box provided and sent half a dozen cancellation messages.
  2. I called all the LA Fitness numbers that I could find, waited on hold, and ultimately left verbal messages that I was canceling my membership.  I left my membership ID and name etc.
  3. I changed the credit card number that they had on file to something nonsensical.  Actually, I tried to do this and I don't think I could because unless they approve the credit card info you put in, it defaults to the previous credit card record.
  4. I cancelled that credit card (which was actually an accident since I lost it).  However, somehow LA Fitness still managed in May and June to start billing my new credit credit including not just for me, but for a family member whose membership we had cancelled years ago.  So I went in thru my American Express App and ...
  5. Told Amex to NOT accept any more billing from LA Fitness.
The only phone number that LA Fitness has for me is a home number which nobody answers. They call there all the time leaving messages to call them. Just for giggles, I think I'll call them back  First, I need to put my iphone on "Hide caller ID" so they don't get my mobile number.

One of the funny things about my experiences with LA Fitness is that the people are really nice but it's the system which is so sucky. I think of times that I've walked into LA Fitness to cancel the extra family members on my account and "Nobody here is authorized to remove people from your account. You need to call corporate to make such a change."  BUT, I say, I just spoke to corporate and they said that this could be done in person at a LA Fitness location."  Oh really, let me check. Then they get on the phone and computer and work diligently for awhile but eventually come back with: "There's no way I can do this, you need be here with the General Manager is in. He's here 8-4, can you come in then?"   The people are so nice but it's a total run-around.

So now I'm on the phone, having returned one of the dozen answers on my home answering machine speaking to an extremely nice young lady.  She, after a few minutes, couldn't find my account under the phone number that they had been calling or my barcode ID. "Do you have any other phone numbers that it might listed under?"

What a sweet innocent question! Or is it? Was she really just trying to get my mobile phone number so they could further call and harass me? I suspect the latter but I don't know since I declined to give it. Eventually, she claimed that I had to be passed to a manager.  Wait wait ring ring.

I'm now talking to another lady. Experienced. Also very nice. Again, she's pointing me towards solutions that are in my case, a dead-end. In this case, she sent me the cancellation form which has to be sent it.  Actually, not the form but I link to their website to login and get the form.  But since I don't have a login and password, I need to go thru the ID Security / recovery process. It means knowing that account number is the same as barcode fitness ID.  We figured that out. Now I need the first five numbers of my "billing account". 

In my case, this is a show stopper since I no longer have that credit card. I lost it a few months ago (which I liked since I'm trying to shed a number of recurring billing accounts like LA Fitness which have proven hard-to-shake".  I know the last four numbers (which are onfile at LA Fitness but not the first five.  I explain this to Nice Experienced Lady with whom I slip from being courteous to calling her Honey.  She corrects me pointing out that it doesn't sound right to her. Good for her. I apologize and decide to be a little less of a jerk on the phone with people.  

Finally, the nice lady at LA Fitness emails me the customized cancel form which I use to cancel. I hope I do. I also urge her to stop having all those people call me to go after the $64.89 that LA Fitness claims that I owe them for June.  I ask who they are and she confides that all the front desk people can get $5 by cleaning up (collecting?) the unpaid amounts on existing accounts.