The entities owning New York Sports Clubs and Lucille Roberts have been taken to court by New York State Attorney General Letitia James for allegedly unlawfully charging monthly dues to members and illegal and fraudulent practices involving consumers’ cancellation rights.
James’ office filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court in the County of New York against Town Sports International Holdings, Inc., and Town Sports International, LLC (collectively TSI).
TSI owns and operates nearly 100 gyms and fitness clubs in New York state doing business under the brand names New York Sports Clubs and Lucille Roberts, according to James’ office.
In Westchester, there are New York Sports Clubs locations in Croton-on-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry, Hawthorne, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Scarsdale and White Plains.
In Connecticut, there are New York Sports Clubs locations in Greenwich, Stamford and West Hartford.
The Lucille Roberts brand does not list any of its gyms as operating in Westchester or Connecticut.
The suit claims that the company violated the law by continuing to charge consumers dues and fees, despite the fact that all health clubs and gyms in the state were ordered closed after the Covid-19 pandemic began to spread widely across New York in March.
The lawsuit explains that James sent the company a letter in early April warning that she would take necessary steps to protect consumers. TSI implemented a freeze of membership fees and dues on April 8 and promised consumers they would provide credits in the future, according to James.
However, according to James, on or around Sept. 1, the company unlawfully resumed charging consumers and never provided them with the promised credits, even charging some consumers who are members of clubs that have yet to open.
James said that most gyms in New York automatically froze memberships at no cost to members until gyms reopened. Her office said TSI did not automatically freeze memberships and didn’t even do so when consumers asked the company to do so. When consumers contacted TSI to request a freeze or cancellation they couldn’t always get through, according to James.
She said it was a rare instance when they could get through and were given differing and often false information that prevented them from cancelling. She further noted that some consumers were told that cancellations were subject to 45-day advance notice requirements and subject to $10 or $15 cancellation processing fees.
James’ filing asks the court for a temporary restraining order in an effort to immediately block TSI from continuing to charge any dues or fines to New York members who submitted cancellation requests, or charging any dues or fines to members in New York whose primary gym remains closed.
In a statement, 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.”