Beware gym memberships that lock you in forever

Posted at 11:19 AM, Jan 03, 2017

Every year in January, health clubs roll out super deals to get us to join.    

But one woman is regretting joining a gym, because it has kept charging her money even years after it went out of business.

And her experience should be a warning to anyone offered a long term contract, especially if they offer  you a cheap "lifetime" membership.

Wanted that 80's Workout

The 1980's were a time of big dance movies like "Flashdance", bigger hair, and even bigger workout routines.

A young Lvonne Leary decided to join Balley's Fitness. "In 1987, I bought a lifetime membership to Bally's," she said.

She signed a contract, agreeing to pay just $53 a year for her "lifetime" deal. It turns out it really was for her lifetime.

Bills showed up year after year for that membership — her most recent one now over $90 — even after the entire Balley's chain went bankrupt and closed all gyms.

So she called the number on her bill, and was stunned by what she learned.  "When I called to ask them why do I still have to pay this, since it has been almost 30 years, they told me it was a lifetime membership and I would have to pay it the rest of my life."

Can't Use Gym Near Her Home

Ironically, the shopping center where Leary used to work out 25 years ago at her old Bailey's currently has an LA Fitness. In several states, LA Fitness bought all the Bailey's clubs and member lists.

But unfortunately she can't use it, because her membership has nothing to do with that club.

Instead her contract was transferred to several different clubs over the years, all over town, the most recent being a small gym more than 30 minutes from her home. They were still billing her after all these years.

"I think it's absurd," she said.

So we tracked down the current holder of her contract, which agreed to finally let Leary stop paying, 29 years after she got the "Flashdance" bug.

Now she has a warning for everyone about signing lifetime contracts.

"I told her a lifetime was 20 years in my book, not forever,"  she said.  But if a company has your name on a "lifetime" document, beware: they may legally be able to charge you as long as they are in business and you are still breathing.

As always, don't waste your money.

“Don't Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”). “Don't Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”). John Matarese reports on deals and scams so you Don't Waste Your Money. "Like" his page on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @JohnMatarese.

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