In 1995 my mother signed up for a 7 day trial membership with Balley's Total Fitness. The agreement was that she could cancel at any time within those 7 days. She tried the gym for three days before deciding that due to the location (the wrong direction of her typical commute) that she wasn't likely to use the gym regularly. On Day 5 of her 7 Day trial she went back to the gym, spoke with the same person. He did something on his computer then said it was all taken care of. She asked if she needed any paperwork or to sign anything and was told no.
30 days go by and she is charged the membership fee. Alarmed at seeing it on her statement she goes to Balley's and talks to the exact same person. She was informed that even though she came in on day 5 it takes 7-10 business days for a membership cancellation to go through so essentially she had to cancel her free trial before she signed up for it in order for it to cancel in time. This was obviously not going to fly and she stayed and argued with the managers for over 2 hours until finally she consented... she would eat the one time monthly fee as long as they were certain her membership was cancelled, she was not in any contract and there was NOTHING ELSE that was going to come back to bite her. She even got it in writing that she never had any sort of monthly agreement and her TRIAL membership was cancelled. Nothing owed.
3 years go by and the family hears NOTHING from Balley's. Not a peep. Until my mother is refinancing her mortgage and all of a sudden the bank puts a hault on everything because apparently some obscure collection agency has record that my mother owes Balley's Fitness over $3,000. Outraged at it she starts contacting Balley's and the mortgage company. She finally finds the old discarded piece of paper that had information about the cancellation and it clears up everything. The refinance goes through and Balley's is quiet again.
In 2002 when she is filing for a loan to help her child in college Balley's shows up AGAIN. This time she is unable to find the piece of paper with the written statement from the manager but after screaming on the phone for three days straight it's finally "resolved". She talks to a lawyer but unfortunately without that original document with the manager's statement she cannot really provide the burden of proof.
Today. November 14, 2011. Balleys contacts me. I do not live with my mother and have not for 4 years now. I have never stepped foot inside a Balley's as an adult and the only time I ever did were in the first two meetings where I was tagging along as a teenage girl. In the phone call they asked for my mother by name concerning a 'personal business matter'. I mentioned that no one by that name lived in the house and they asked if I knew a [Mother's Name]. I mentioned that I did and asked what it was in regards to and they did inform me it was a matter of an outstanding debt owed to Balley's Total Fitness. I informed them that I was very certain that my mother did not owe anything to them and also informed them that she did not live at my home, never had and they should not contact me again in this matter. 3 hours later I get another call from the same number but I refused to answer it.
I sincerely hope that folks blacklist Balley's Total Fitness. If you do have the misfortune of signing up with them make sure that any correspondance or contracts with them you have reviewed by a freaking lawyer and get everything in writing, in triplicate, with a copy stored in a safety deposit box to protect yourself from the future agony of this company.