Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine has filed a lawsuit against Town Sports International (TSI), LLC for deceptive cancellation and billing practices, accusing it of violating consumer protection laws, Racine’ office announced on January 8.
“It’s clear that Washington Sports Club is still making money by deceiving consumers, and that is not acceptable. We are filing this lawsuit to protect District consumers and to warn businesses that if they profit by misleading or hiding information, we will hold them accountable for breaking the law,” Racine said in a press statement.
Based in Florida, TSI is one of the largest operators of fitness centers in the U.S. The company runs six Washington Sports Clubs locations, and also operates New York Sports Clubs, Boston Sports Clubs and Philadelphia Sports Clubs. On “Club Industry’s Top 100 Health Clubs of 2018” list, TSI ranked seventh, and reported a revenue of $403 million in 2017.
Racine also announced the lawsuit on his Twitter account as “breaking” news on the same day.
BREAKING: I’m taking Washington Sports Club to court for misleading #DC consumers about cancellation policies, billing practices, and fees.
WSC violated a 2016 settlement for similar illegal conduct and OAG has received >50 consumer complaints since then: https://t.co/GvnaBBKxzk
— AG Karl A. Racine (@AGKarlRacine) January 8, 2019
In 2016, following an investigation, TSI had reached an agreement with the Attorney General’s Office to adhere to the local Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA). According to Racine, TSI had agreed to stop misleading its members about the gym’s cancellation policies. However, since 2016, about 50 complaints from local consumers over alleged violation of CPPA by TSI have been received by Racine’s office.
Racine asserts that TSI sings up memberships without revealing fees, and does not offer written contracts on paper. The consumers also alleged that they are charged even after they cancel their memberships.
Members who were billed by Washington Sports Club after cancelling their memberships are encouraged to call the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (202) 442-9828.