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Premier Fitness under investigation

Discussion in 'TRIBE Main Forum' started by rejenerate, Nov 14, 2004.

  1. rejenerate

    rejenerate TRIBE Member

    Probe launched into fitness chain
    Hamilton police look into complaints

    Improper bank withdrawals alleged

    Hamilton—Police have launched an investigation into the business practices of one of Ontario's largest fitness club chains.

    The target is Premier Fitness, which has been the subject of hundreds of consumer complaints and dozens of legal actions across the Golden Horseshoe over the last five years. The Premier chain's 27 Ontario locations also include the Mademoiselle Fitness and Day Spa, Curzons Fitness, The Women's Club, and Regency Fitness and Racquets Club brands.

    Hamilton's major fraud branch is probing allegations the chain improperly withdrew money through members' preauthorized payment plans, the Hamilton Spectator has learned.

    No decision has been made on whether charges will be laid. The company said it was unaware of any police investigation.

    "I'm not afraid," Neil Proctor, Premier's chief financial officer, said in an interview. Improper activity with members' accounts "is not happening, has never happened and it will not happen," he said. Police investigations "will come and go because a bunch of people phone the police, blah blah blah say this and that and that. (Police) can come and take a look at our books and do anything they want."

    The police probe is one of a number of serious issues uncovered during an investigation by The Spectator into the province-wide chain. The investigation revealed that:

    Chain target of more than 50 lawsuits and small claims court actions over five years

    The Premier chain has been the target of more than 50 lawsuits and small-claims court actions over five years, primarily from dissatisfied customers and unpaid suppliers such as construction companies, ad brokers and law firms.

    Consumer complaints focus mainly on unauthorized bank and credit card withdrawals and on the difficulty Premier club members say they experience when trying to exercise the legal right to cancel contracts. The company took $42 a month, for several months, from a 70-year-old woman with a heart problem who cancelled her contract with a hand-delivered letter. Anna Hocevar regrets the day she joined the fitness club to strengthen her body. A small-claims court judge ordered Premier Fitness to pay Hocevar more than $1,000 three years ago, but her cheque still hasn't arrived. Premier officials told The Spectator the company billed Hocevar properly. No one from Premier showed up in court to contest her claim.

    More than 700 complaints and inquiries have been lodged with the Ontario government's consumer ministry against Premier between 1999 and 2003.

    The Premier chain of brands, founded by CEO John Cardillo, has more than 140,000 members. The chain has its headquarters in Mississauga. There are eight locations in Toronto, four in Hamilton, three in Mississauga and three in Brampton, two locations each in Burlington, Oakville and St. Catharines, and one each in London, Markham and Ottawa. Sites in London and St. Catharines are under development. The company website boasts of coming sites in Toronto, Mississauga, Oshawa and Calgary.

    The company says it takes complaints seriously but does not consider the current number to be excessive for a chain its size.

    Al Guarino, Premier's executive vice-president, said consumer complaints are almost always the result of a misunderstanding of the club member's contractual obligations. "In most cases, we're right," he said. "I do not believe we have a high number of complaints," he added, although he acknowledged "there's always going to be somebody who disagrees."

    Hamilton Spectator
  2. djfear

    djfear TRIBE Member

    One of the reasons why I haven't joined a club yet (I was planning to 2 months ago).

    If I cancel a membership then I'll just go to the bank the next day to put stop payments from that company. I won't bother waiting to see if they're fucking with me or not.
  3. djdeposit

    djdeposit TRIBE Member

    My buddy said that they are trying to claim 1600$ worth of personal training charges on him, which he never even had.

    it was first like 100$, and now they bumped it up to 1600$ or some crap.

    poor guy has to go to court for them.

    the best part is, he never recieved his membership, only had a temp pass.
  4. kid flo

    kid flo TRIBE Member

    what is it with these Italians getting involved in the fitness industry???

  5. kid flo

    kid flo TRIBE Member

    i'm sure there's a Tony implicated there somewhere...
  6. smile

    smile TRIBE Member

  7. kmac

    kmac TRIBE Member

    Don't get me started on Premier. :mad:
  8. djdeposit

    djdeposit TRIBE Member

    what about those bunk ass scratch cards that offerd people 1 free year?

    "Hi I would like to collect my 9-12 free months that I won" - coustomer.

    "Oh no problem, that will be 500$" - sales rep

  9. rejenerate

    rejenerate TRIBE Member

    That's why I posted it here...I belong to Premier so I remember reading your story as well as other people's. I think it's about time there was a criminal investigation.
  10. kmac

    kmac TRIBE Member


    Same. They have made it so difficult for me to quit. I get the runaround time and time again. I think I'm going to lodge a complaint as well.

    *gets poison pen out to write scathing letter*
  11. SneakyPete

    SneakyPete TRIBE Member

    kmac attack!
  12. MrMarcus

    MrMarcus TRIBE Member

    I'm not surprised. Even their employees get fucked over. A friend of mine was a personal trainer there, and she didn't get paid what she should, and she finally quit. I don't think she ever got all her money from them.
  13. JohnnyD76

    JohnnyD76 TRIBE Member

    International Family Fitness JUST as corrupt.

    International Family Fitness [ I.F.F. ] is notorious for doing unauthorized withdrawels from a pre-authorized agreement. Personally, I think they do it on purpose. It's becoming practice for almost every large gym. Coincidence? I think not.

    I know someone who works at the one on the border of Oakville / Mississauga by the QEW / Winston Churchill, and he says it happens so regularly, and upper managment isn't doing much about it.

    I don't think they don't care because if the customer don't check their credit cards or bank statements....then that's how the gym makes it's extra money. Pretty fuckin shady.

    A co-worker of mine used to go to the IFF gym all the time, and they charged him 4 times in a month. That's $140.00 / month for a gym membership. He approached the staff at the gym about it, and at first they didn't really want to look into it or do too much for him - kept passing the buck. Then after he finally spoke with someone in upper managment who handles client care, they said they couldn't refund him the money, but they would just add on extra months, for whatever extra he was being charged.

    Uhmmm......no I'd want my frickin money back, NOW. Fuck the extra gym membership. What the gym did is illegal. Nowhere in the contract does it say that they are allowed to charge you MORE than what you agreed to pay per month. Anything more than that - they have to pay you back, otherwise they're in breach of their own contract and are subject to being sued.

    So far, it hasn't happened to me, but if it ever does, I'm demanding my money back, and cancelling my membership.

    To my understanding, that's how IFF is losing a LOT of their business - especially from local companies who operate in that area. It even prompted a large auto-manufacturer to build it's own gym on premises and offered WAY better deals than IFF ever could.

    Last edited: Nov 14, 2004
  14. Karim

    Karim TRIBE Member

    Thank goodness for University Gym's. Something like $90 for the whole school year to students. Can't beat that!

  15. Casey

    Casey TRIBE Member

    thank goodness for probes!
  16. kid flo

    kid flo TRIBE Member

    same type of scam took place in Mtl 7-8 years ago.

    could be the same gang and / or "mastermind", and they're at it again... opening franchises, conning ppl into membership, then revoking it, closing for renovations, never re-opening, ppl paying to cancel and still paying for their membership the following month, employees and trainers with not pay, and the list goes on...

    then, mysteriously, the CEO who went by the name of "Tony P." dissapeared and apparently went to Ontario.. who knows where...

    the RCMP got involved, it was big news here cause lots of ppl filed complaints @ the consumer protection office... the club and off-spring were called something like Fitness Plus

    with names like Mademoiselle Fitness, Curzons Fitness, The Women's Club, and Regency Fitness... hmm... i dunno

    I'd love to be a P.I. :D
  17. kmac

    kmac TRIBE Member

    Hey baby!

    *does arm curl*
  18. OTIS

    OTIS TRIBE Member

    I know at least 3 people who have had cash removed from their accounts from premiere.. and I had that happen to me also with Good Life.
  19. JESuX

    JESuX TRIBE Member

    same here.
  20. JohnnyD76

    JohnnyD76 TRIBE Member

    I think the best thing to do is get memberships at the smaller gyms - the not-so-corporate gyms. It seems that Premier and International Family Fitness are in the business of ripping people off.

  21. saskboy

    saskboy TRIBE Member

    I posted this before,...

    The bureau recommends opening a second banking account for the sole purpose of directly debiting your gym membership fees, which average $20 to $60 a month in Ontario. Make sure the account has enough money each month.

  22. dj_jake_the_snake

    dj_jake_the_snake TRIBE Member


    don't be fooled into thinking this is a lone fitness company that is into doing this pre-authorized payment crap that is next to impossible to stop.

    THIS IS FITNESS INDUSTRY STANDARD PRACTISE. Be very careful about this and remember you can always cancel through your credit card company for like $15 bucks

  23. Stormshadow

    Stormshadow TRIBE Member

    Best value, and non-scaming gym: The YMCA
  24. phunkymunky

    phunkymunky TRIBE Member

    city community centres are also good. prices are around ymca prices.
  25. OTIS

    OTIS TRIBE Member

    I agree, and University Gyms are also good and uaually offer memerships to the public.

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