AG: Bally's misled Texans into paying 'past due' fees

June 11, 2010 10:27:56 AM PDT
Bally Total Fitness Corp. was charged with unlawfully attempting to mislead its former customers into paying "past due" membership fees they do not owe, the Texas attorney general announced Tuesday. Bally, based in California, operates 24 fitness centers in and around the Dallas, Houston and San Antonio areas. An investigation by the attorney general's office revealed that between summer 2009 and March 2010, Bally mailed more than 11,000 misleading "past due" notices to former members in an attempt to encourage them to rejoin their former gym. The notices created the false impression that former members had outstanding dues that needed to be paid.

More than 1,000 Texans made payments to Bally after receiving the past due notices.

According to the lawsuit filed by the state, Bally's notices claimed that recipients owed at least one month's overdue fees and demanded immediate payment. Some of Bally's past due notices even claimed that failure to submit a payment could result in a negative entry on the former members' credit reports.

The attorney general is seeking civil penalties of up to $20,000 for each violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, as well as restitution for Bally's former customers that suffered financial harm.

Texans who believe they have been deceived by similar fraudulent business practices may call the Office of the Attorney General's toll-free complaint line at (800) 252-8011 or file a complaint online at TexasAttorneyGeneral.gov.


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