Life Time Fitness seems to have a lot of complaints about hidden fees and repeatedly overcharging people for things, but for a family in the Washington, D.C. area, the gym got really bold with the “tip line” on a lunch at their café, according to local news outlet WJLA.
In April, Pallavi Srivastava and her husband were checking out their local Reston, Va. Life Time Fitness branch, because it had a pool where they could give swim lessons to their son. The family decided to grab a couple of veggie burgers. With tax, the total came out to $24.97.
Then, the café cashier entered his employee ID number in to the register where the tip amount was supposed to go. $5,448.69 later, the total charged to the Srivastavas’ account was $5,475.16, which they didn’t notice until they got their credit card bill later that month. Obviously, Pallavi called to complain, and Life Time Fitness assured the couple that they would reverse the charge and it was a simple human error. She didn’t bother to call her credit card company about the problem, because she thought the mistake would be fixed quickly.
The next day, Life Time Fitness called back and said they couldn’t reverse the charge without the family’s credit card account information, so they could re-charge the entire amount again. But the extra $5,450 was never fixed at all, and because Srivastava refused to pay the overages, she was hit with late fees and interest fees by her credit card company.
When she called and asked why they’d never reversed the charge, Life Time Fitness informed her they had “closed the financial books” on the case and wouldn’t be fixing the error. (Apparently, “Outta Sight, Outta Mind” is a company policy in the accounting department?) Four months later, the couple was still fighting with the gym to get their money back, when it occurred to them they could call the local ABC news station and share their story.
As soon as WJLA’s “7 On Your Side” was contacted, the gym decided to start cooperating.
“When we said ABC7 News is getting involved, that’s when suddenly we get a call back from this lady who says we can do it,” Pallavi said.
Life Time Fitness promises to sort everything out by the end of the week. I’m not sure if the lesson here is to not spend $8 on a chicken wrap in a gym café, or to skip big chain gyms altogether. One thing is for sure: Always check your receipts for stray $5,000 charges.