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Women’s Workout World steps up for stroke victim

THE FIXER HAS SAVED YOU

$1,345,992

Updated: September 25, 2012 11:01AM



Dear Fixer: I joined Women’s Workout World in August 2011. My membership was payable on a month-to-month basis.

The month after I joined, I went into the hospital for routine hernia surgery. There were some complications and two days later, while still in the hospital, I had a stroke that affected my vision.

I was unable to drive, but I continued to pay my monthly membership fee of $19. My ophthalmologist was not very encouraging as far as me being able to drive again, but my neurologist was more so. I kept paying my $19-a-month fees for the next nine months in the hope that I would be able to return to the club.

Fast-forward to June. I finally decided to call the club and cancel my membership. A few days later, I received a document from my ophthalmologist stating I meet the requirements to drive again.

I called the corporate offices of Women’s Workout World in early August and asked if I could be reinstated to my old membership plan based on my circumstances and the fact that I continued to pay my fees even when I wasn’t able to use the services.

I was told no; I would have to rejoin and pay $159 upfront and then $15 a month for a two-year contract. Can you help?

Lana Kaske, Chicago

Dear Lana: First, let us say it has been The Fixer’s observation that 9.99 times out of 10, the consumer is out of luck when it comes to a rules dispute with a health club. The fitness industry is known for sticking to the fine print when it comes to things such as membership fees, cancellations and contract periods.

But your case did seem to be unique, so we asked Women’s Workout World — also known as W3 — President and CEO Shari Whitley if anything could be done.

Guess what? Within minutes of our inquiry, Whitley responded that she sympathized with your predicament and would find a way to resolve it.

You soon got a call from Kathy LaMonto of member services, who promised to reinstate your old $19-a-month plan. W3 also offered to credit you for the nine months of fees you paid when you were recovering. So they more than fixed this.

LaMonto said she wasn’t aware of your medical circumstances earlier; now she looks forward to helping you stay physically fit.

What to ask before you join a health club

If you’re considering joining a health club, make sure it’s the right place for you. Besides looking at the club’s philosophy, focus and locations, here are a few questions to ask the club before you make a commitment, according to the Better Business Bureau:

† Do you have a trial membership? Many gyms will let you test the place out for a few days or a week to see if it’s for you.

† What are the terms of any introductory offers? Some of these have very low prices, but make sure you understand what the price will be after the introductory period is over.

† Do you automatically renew memberships? Many consumers are surprised to learn that their contract terms allow the gym to re-up their membership after it expires unless the consumer takes specific steps to cancel.

† Can I get out of my contract? Find out the conditions under which you can end your membership, along with what you need to do to inform the club. (Hint: It’s usually more than just calling the front desk.)

† Can my membership be put on hold if I become sick or injured?

† What if I move? Can I transfer my membership to another club location?

† What if the club goes out of business? This occurs more often than consumers would expect, so find out what happens to your money if the club suddenly closes.

As always, resist any high-pressure sales tactics. (You should be happy about any gym that you join!) And be sure to get all verbal promises in writing.

Getting the runaround on a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at suntimes.com/fixer, where you’ll find a simple form to fill out. You’ll also find a list of consumer contacts and tips. Because of the large volume of submissions, The Fixer can’t personally reply to every problem. Letters are edited for length and clarity.



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