As all current and former members of LA Fitness know, the company uses a variety of sleazy sales practices in trying to generate business. But of all their questionable sales tactics, nothing compares to the ridiculousness of their cancellation policies. Think you can just walk in and cancel your membership at LA Fitness? Think again. LA Fitness is possibly the only gym in America that makes you MAIL IN a signed cancellation form. That’s right – you cannot cancel over the phone, internet, or in person. The ONLY way to do it is through the mail.
Why does LA Fitness do this? Simple: to prolong the cancellation process until past your next billing cycle (and get another month of dues from you). Let’s use a hypothetical example to illustrate how LA Fitness gains from this policy. “John”, a loyal member of LA Fitness, has decided to cancel his membership. As instructed by the receptionist at his local gym, John fills out a cancellation form and mails it in to Corporate Headquarters in Irvine. Since John’s next billing cycle doesn’t begin for another 10 days, he’s confident that his membership will be cancelled on time. But things don’t happen as fast as John has anticipated. First, the letter takes a good 3 or 4 days to arrive. Then it takes another 2 or 3 days for the letter to actually get opened. And then it’s another couple days before the request gets processed. By the time John’s membership actually is cancelled, a full 12 days have gone by and his next billing cycle has already begun! That’s another $39.99 taken off John’s credit card, and another $39.99 in revenue for LA Fitness. Repeat this process with hundreds (if not thousands) of customers, and that’s a sizeable chunk of revenue that the company is generating strictly through their unusual cancellation policies.
It shouldn’t surprise you to hear that LA Fitness is currently being sued for this: http://classactionlawsuitsinthenews.com/class-action-lawsuit-complaints/l-a-fitness-class-action-lawsuit-complaint-filed-on-behalf-of-l-a-fitness-health-club-members-over-health-club-membership-cancellations-monthly-dues/
To see how bad the problem has gotten, check out their customer complain board: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/health_clubs/la_fitness.html
As a point of comparison, 24 Hour Fitness allows you to cancel online, in person or over the phone, and they always credit you back the portion of your current month that hasn’t been used. So if your billing cycle starts on the 1st, and you cancel on the 15th, you’ll be credited back for unused days 16-30.
My advice: Avoid LA Fitness altogether, and go with Equinox or 24 Hour. If do need to cancel with LA Fitness, use certified mail (which provides proof of mailing and delivery), and deactivate your credit card immediately after cancelling (to prevent any “accidental” recurring charges).
Random fact: Apparently Fox News is banned from all LA Fitness television. Guess they’re doing something right.