When Roslindale Whitney Randall took a job in Medford last September, she was pleased to learn that she would be able to consolidate her life by using the Medford Gold’s Gym, as stipulated by her contract with the West Roxbury Gold’s, where she had been a member for three years.
So, when shortly after the New Year, she went for her workout in Medford, she was shocked to hear that her membership was invalid.
Randall learned that the West Roxbury Gold’s Gym had, two weeks prior, become a new facility, called Work Out World, an upstart fitness facility franchise with 20 locations in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. By virtue of the switch, Randall was unable to use other Gold’s Gyms.
This bothered her - but what bothered her even more was that this was the first she had heard about the switch.
“I was primarily upset that I had been given no notice that a large change was taking place,” she said. “It just seemed like a really poor business practice.”
Details of the switch – and its timeline – from Gold’s to Work Out World are unclear. Work Out World manager and co-owner George Moses did not respond to more than a dozen calls requesting an interview. Work Out World employees were also informed of why a Patch reporter was calling, and the focus of the article.
It is also unclear as to how the contract signed by members with Gold’s Gym transitioned to Work Out World. According to Randall, upon going to cancel her contract, she was told she had been charged for January and would be charged for February, because she had not given 30 days notice to the gym’s billing company, ABC Financial. She was charged despite the fact, she said, that they said if she wanted to continue using the Work Out World facilities, she needed to sign a new contract.
“That’s where I felt really confused,” she said of the contractual situation.
Randall said that Gold’s told her that her original contract said “something to the effect that if the gym closes, but there is still a facility on the property, then the contract is valid.”
“There’s a weird loophole that I think is somehow built in,” she said.
Massachusetts Department of Consumer Affairs Spokesman Jason Lefferts said that there would be reason for the contract to be terminated, if the transition “caused any substantial changes.” Lefferts said such changes may include changes in pricing, in operating hours, in the gym’s equipment, or a change in services.
The term “substantial changes,” Lefferts added, is somewhat vague. However, Randall – and other former Gold’s members – may have cause for reimbursement because the transition does not allow them to use other Gold’s facilities. He recommended that if a member felt their services had seen substantial changes, they attempt to find reimbursement through the gym, and if the gym refused, to contact the Attorney General’s office.
Even if the contract was still valid, Lefferts said, not alerting members to the change reflected poorly on the gym.
“It’s certainly shady business, at any rate,” he said.
Randall was not alone in her lack of awareness of the change. One male member from Jamaica Plain, who still uses the gym (and therefore did not wish to be identified) said he was “very surprised” to see the gym had changed its name when he returned to working out after the holidays.