Problem Solved: Fit Republic welshed on a promised refund

Q: I have been a member of Fit Republic, a national exercise club chain, since it opened in San Jose. I renewed my gym membership late last year. In early December, my lung collapsed. I was in the hospital for two weeks and required additional surgery.

Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter ...
Christopher Elliott

I notified Fit Republic that I wanted a refund since I can’t use my membership for the entire coming year. Management asked for a doctor’s note, which I provided the very next day.

Ever since, I have been promised my refund but have not received it. I have visited the facility five times, asking for an update. They assured me “the check is in the mail.” It is now month number four with no refund. I asked for a name and an address of their headquarters. They said they couldn’t provide that to me.

I am 79 years old and on a limited income. I need a refund. Can you please help?

Robert Mora, San Jose

A: I’m so sorry to hear about your health problems. If Fit Republic promised you a refund, it should send it to you promptly. Four months is way too long.

It looks as if initially you spent most of your time dealing with Fit Republic online or in person. I might have started a paper trail with Fit Republic using the company’s online contact form. I found an address for Fit Republic’s headquarters in Arizona (7135 E Camelback Road, Suite 235, Scottsdale, AZ 85251), but you are correct: Finding contact information about its executives can be difficult.

When you signed up for your membership, you had an opportunity to review the terms of your membership. You may have missed some important wording since you would have had to click on a small link at the bottom of the page. Anyway, here’s what you would have seen:

“I understand that I have paid or will pay an annual rate guarantee of $39.00, on an annual basis, in order to lock in my membership rate. Under no circumstances is any portion of that amount refundable. I also understand that I have paid or will pay an enrollment fee. That amount is not refundable if I cancel my membership because I relocate my permanent residence.”

Translation: Unless you have something from a manager at your location, Fit Republic can keep all of your money. By the way, that Fit Republic contract is quite a novel. It might be worth a look if you ever decide to sign up for a membership again.

It’s unclear why Fit Republic would promise you a refund and then not send one. But excuses didn’t matter to you. In addition to contacting me, you reached out to the Better Business Bureau and to the district attorney. Fit Republic’s Better Business Bureau page shows it is “not accredited” and has a failing grade. And it looks as if your email to the district attorney bore fruit before I could even get involved.

Fit Republic refunded your membership fee, as promised. I love cases like yours, where the company does the right thing before I contact it. Nice work.

Christopher Elliott’s latest book is “How To Be The World’s Smartest Traveler” (National Geographic). You can get real-time answers to any consumer question on his forum, elliott.org/forum, or by emailing him at chris@elliott.org.