Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
As if getting to the gym weren't tough enough, imagine if you showed up and your gym was gone! That's exactly what happened to women who prepaid for memberships at 60 Curves Health Clubs across New York State. Nine of those clubs were here in New York City.
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a settlement today with Curves International, a multinational health club franchisor. Under the agreement, Curves will set up a reimbursement fund for people who paid for health club services that were discontinued. While anyone can pay for a membership, the clubs serve only women.
The A.G. began investigating the franchise after it received complaints that a Suffolk County location had closed without notice and had refused to provide refunds to its members.
From the AG's statement:
“If you do business in New York, then you have to play by the rules. Curves International – like any franchisor operating in the state – must refund the customers who prepaid for memberships they ultimately could not use,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “My office will continue to ensure that consumers are treated fairly, and I encourage New Yorkers to learn their rights and report offenses to our office so that we can take action.”
Curves International did not honor its obligation to provide refunds when independently owned Curves Health Clubs franchises went out of business without reimbursing its members. Curves International will establish a restitution fund for the consumers who requested a membership refund from any Curves club that closed in 2009. Curves will pay up to $100,000 into a reimbursement fund, which will be overseen by the Better Business Bureau. It will pay an additional $60,000 to New York State for the costs of this investigation.
Consumers who believe they are entitled to a refund from Curves International should contact the Better Business Bureau at 212-358-2857 at 30 East 33rd Street, 12th Floor, New York, New York 10016. New Yorkers who have had a similar experience with a different business and would like to file a complaint are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's Consumer Helpline at 1-800-771-7755.