As part of her ongoing litigation against Boston Sports Clubs (BSC), Attorney General Maura Healey recently announced that Work Out World (WOW) has agreed to pay $62,500 in penalties, in addition to providing full refunds for thousands of consumers, to resolve claims that the fitness gym purchased BSC memberships and subsequently charged consumers without their consent. The consent judgment (or settlement) alleges that following BSC’s closure and subsequent bankruptcy during the COVID-19 pandemic, V Fitness, LLC and One Fitness, LLC (both d/b/a Work Out World), which are located in Waltham and Canton, improperly assumed over 3,100 BSC memberships without the consumers’ written consent. Massachusetts state laws prohibit the assignment of a contract from one health club to another without the written consent of the buyer.
“At a time when consumers were being strung along by BSC, Work Out World created another hassle for consumers by forcing them to either pay for or cancel gym memberships they never signed up for,” Healey said. “Today’s settlement secures full refunds for thousands of consumers who were impacted by Work Out World’s unlawful practices.”
According to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s complaint, BSC did not obtain written consent from consumers to transfer their gym memberships to WOW, as required by the Commonwealth’s Health Club Act. Upon receipt of the memberships, WOW did not confirm that consumers had consented to the transfer. WOW also sent misleading emails to consumers about their membership status and improperly charged consumers for memberships that they did not agree to.
Under the terms of the settlement, WOW is required to void any membership contracts obtained from BSC for their Waltham and Canton locations and provide full refunds to any of these consumers who were wrongfully charged membership fees after their accounts were transferred without their consent. WOW has already begun providing tens of thousands of dollars in refunds to consumers upon request, and all remaining impacted consumers will be fully refunded automatically. WOW must also pay $62,500 in penalties before May 31, 2022, for their role in this case. If WOW does not comply with the terms of the settlement, additional fines would be imposed.
The Attorney General’s Office became aware of the membership transfers through its BSC investigation. The Office’s lawsuit against BSC and the remaining defendants, including New TSI Holdings, Inc. and former CEO Patrick Walsh, remains ongoing.
In November 2020, AG Healey sued BSC after the company charged consumers for membership dues when the gyms were closed, repeatedly failed to honor consumers’ membership cancellation requests, and refused to refund impacted consumers as it originally promised. In March 2021, the Attorney General’s Office secured $127,000 in refunds for hundreds of BSC members through the company’s bankruptcy process.
Consumers with questions about their refunds can contact WOW’s Member Services at 781-785-0168 or the Attorney General’s Office at 617-727-8400.