Two New York gym chains have been sued by the state attorney general for cheating members out of their fees while the gym was closed due to the pandemic.
Town Sports International Holdings (TSI) owns both the New York Sports Clubs and Lucille Roberts gym chains.
On Wednesday Letitia James sued the company in Manhattan state court, seeking a court order blocking the company from charging for shuttered facilities or canceled memberships.
‘Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, New York Sports Clubs and Lucille Roberts have done everything possible to flout their obligations and take advantage of members,’ James said in a statement.
New York Sports Clubs is accused of profiting from their members during the pandemic
Letitia James, the attorney general, filed a suit against the parent company on Wednesday
‘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.’
‘Today’s suit aims to end TSI’s illegal efforts to run its members ragged, simply to spot its bottom line,’ James said.
New York Sports Clubs was founded in New York City in 1973, and has grown to become the largest gym network in the northeast.
There are 44 NYSC clubs in the five boroughs, and around the same number in Connecticut, Long Island, New Jersey and other parts of New York state.
Lucille Roberts has 16 clubs in New York City, Long Island and New Jersey.
TSI came to the attention of James earlier this year, after clients complained that they had been charged their April fees, despite the fact the gyms were shut on the order of Governor Andrew Cuomo.
NYSC has has grown to become the largest gym network in the northeast, TSI say
They agreed to stop billing members while they were closed, give credits to those who were charged and allow customers to cancel their memberships.
Earlier this month, the New York Post reported that TSI had set aside $850,000 to compensate their customers.
But James said they resumed charging members on September 1 – even though some gyms remain closed – and they have not refunded the fees.
Gyms were officially allowed to reopen in New York City on September 2, at 33 per cent capacity, provided their air filtration systems meet the required standards.
James’ office has received 1,848 complaints against TSI since March 16, the court documents state.
Of those, 437 have come in since September 1.
Town Sports filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month, saying it was unable to keep up with debt payments after it was forced to shut its gyms for months.
The company is seeking to close certain locations permanently, depending on the outcome of talks with landlords.
The sports chain also said they may sell their business.