Oct. 1, 2020 By Christian Murray
The parent company of New York Sports Clubs and Lucille Roberts has been hit with a lawsuit by the New York Attorney General for illegally charging its members while its gyms were closed.
Letitia James, the NY Attorney General, accused Town Sports International of violating the law by charging its members while its gyms were forced to shut down–and for failing to reimburse them when they reopened.
Additionally, the company, which operates nearly 100 gyms in the state under the NYSC and Lucille Roberts brand names, is accused of making it extremely difficult and costly for members to cancel.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, NYSC and Lucille Roberts have done everything possible to flout their obligations and take advantage of members,” Attorney General James said. “Time and again, these gyms have illegally sought to lift up their precarious financial state at their members’ expenses, even though many of these very members were simultaneously being crushed under the weight of financial hardships.”
There are six NYSCs in Queens, with locations in Astoria, Forest Hills, Glendale, Rego Park, Sunnyside and Whitestone. In addition, there are three Lucille Roberts in the borough, with locations in Astoria, Flushing and Forest Hills.
Since the coronavirus shutdown in mid-March, James’ office has received 1,848 complaints across the state about the company, according to court documents. The suit said that 437 of those complaints have come since Sept. 1.
The company, James said, charged its members in April despite gyms being ordered shut on March 16.
TSI stopped charging fees on April 8, following a letter from James, and promised that its members would receive credits in the future.
The company started charging its members again on Sept. 1, soon after some gyms in the state were permitted to reopen.
James said that the company did not reimburse its members for the period between March 16 and April 8. Furthermore, many members who were charged in September lived in areas where the gyms had not reopened.
The club is also accused of providing false information to consumers who tried to freeze or cancel their memberships. Many were told they were subject to a 45-day advance notice and there was a $10 or $15 cancellation processing fee.
But James said that gym members are permitted to cancel their membership without charge when services are no longer available due to a substantial change in operation.
Monthly dues for these gyms range from $20 to $150, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit, filed Sept. 30, is calling on the court to force the company to reimburse its members for the period between March 16 to April 8; to stop charging members whose gyms are shut; to allow members to cancel at no charge; and to pay restitution.
TSl did not immediately respond to requests for comment.