• Report: #415573

Complaint Review: Premier Fitness

  • Submitted: Sat, January 24, 2009
  • Updated: Mon, March 02, 2009

  • Reported By:Mississauga Ontario
Premier Fitness
Dundas St Mississauga, Ontario Canada

Premier Fitness Mississauga cancelled membership in 2005, now they claim I owe the $865 because I did not cancel Mississauga Ontario

*Consumer Suggestion: You are right in your stand against Premier Fitness' scam tactics

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We've just gotten a call today from Michelle, Stephen Walters law office. I was told that I owe them 865$ because I did not cancel my membership back in 2005.
I laughed at first. I told Michelle that there was no notice of renewal, there was not even a single call. I had a one-year contract with them and they were withdrawing money from my credit card.

After one year withdrawals stopped, end of story. They call me in 2009 to tell me that I owe Premier money, give me a break. First of all, there is 2 year limitation period for smal claims court. I mentioned that to Michelle. She told me to go talk to them and I did.

After I talked to the reception, then to a manager and two other managers. They called the head office and were told the same thing I told them - 2 year limitation period on these claims and one cannot sue after 2 years period is over.

Then they said they can reduce it to $374 and give me one year free membership. That was pretty ridiculous. On FIVE occasions they asked me to give me a tour of their facilities, all at the same time when I was trying to tell them that I will never use their services again and that "no, thank you" means just that.

At the very end they told me to give them my lawyer's contact details and that their lawyers will contact me. I just laughed at their face and left.

I'm very happy that I found this forum. On monday I will call the Law Society and consumer protection organizations. Don't believe when they threaten to take you to court. It costs $200 to start a claim in small claims court, this is without legal fees which will amount to more than one or two hundreds of dollars.
Good luck to everyone with fighting this scam.

I'll keep you updated, although I'm pretty sure that after I call Law Society, no action on their side will be taken. If someone starts a class action against Premier, I will definitelt join it.

Yuliya
Mississauga, Ontario
Canada

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 01/24/2009 04:07 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Premier-Fitness/Mississauga-Ontario/Premier-Fitness-Mississauga-cancelled-membership-in-2005-now-they-claim-I-owe-the-865-be-415573. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Consumer Suggestion

You are right in your stand against Premier Fitness' scam tactics

AUTHOR: Henke - (Canada)

Premier Fitness has a lot of experience pushing the envelope of the law and intimidating former members into paying additional dues that are not justified. Threats include:

1) You are bounded by a signed contract, therefore your fault for not reading the fine print;

2) Threatening to destroy your credit, your reputation to your employer, garnish your wages from Revenue Canada; etc.;

3) Having a collection agency, specifically Michelle Smit of Stephen Walter's law office hound you incessantly, sending burly men to pound on your front doors and finally

4) Threatening to take you to court;

Do not give in - make your stand, know the law. They are counting on greater than 95% of such false claims against cancelled or lapsed memberships to either cave under the above listed threats or former patrons just not wanting to deal with the stress. Do not give in. It's laughable when we read triumphant blogs of former members having 'reasoned' with Premier Fitness and settled on a reduced amount! Ridiculous - that's not a win, that's giving in and emboldens Premier Fitness to continue this unlawful practice. Here's how to use the law to protect yourselves and if you believe you have been unfairly treated and victimized by this unscrupulous scam artists operating as a fitness club:

1) Signed contracts, automatic renewals: No matter what the contract says, the club cannot renew your membership automatically. It must provide a renewal notice at least 30 days before your contract ends, and it must give you the chance to refuse renewal. Check out Ministry of Government and Consumer Services Bureau at 416 326 8800 or toll-free 1800 889 9768 www.ontario.ca/consumerprotection or Info.MGS2ontario.ca. Premier Fitness has consistently use that ploy of accumulating four months of so-called 'late-fees' and issuing a late payment notice even though you're contract ended or cancelled or whatever -- this will not hold up in court. You pay for services used and if you have not used the club after your membership ended or cancelled your contract, why are you paying? They have magnetic club access membership cards, and their system which contains evidence against themselves to prove you have not used the club since your membership ended. There's a consumer law for that too. Fight - make your stand. Write to the Registrar, Consumer Protection Branch at 5775 Yonge Street, Suite 1500, Toronto, Ontario M7A 2E5 and make your case and request they investigate Premier Fitness.

2) Threatening to destroy your credit rating: First, this is almost always an empty threat but if they do carry it out, this is how you protect yourself: request a free credit report by the two credit reporting companies in Canada: Equifax Canada Inc. (www.equifax.ca) and Trans Union of Canada. View your credit information - chances are Premier Fitness has not made a report against you or made a dent to your credit rating to damage your credit. Take pre-emptive measures. This Consumer Credit Report Update Form comes with your free credit report. Complete and return it by letting these two agencies know that should a false claim/report be made by Premier Fitness/Stephen Walters Professional Corporation - that this "false claim is in dispute". This will be for the record for all other credit grantors to see.

3) Incessant collections calls and letters from Michelle Smit - the collection agency 'Stephen Walter's Law Office' hired by Premier Fitness: Collection agencies are governed by Collection Agencies Act. So they are regulated in the times they can call; they are not allowed to pay you a visit to your home; they must properly identify themselves, the client they represent and the amount owed (that is not the case with this agency); and they cannot call you before they send you a letter. Do not bother returning Michelle Smit's call and try to negotiate. There is no reasoning, or negotiating with them all collections agencies want is to earn their commissions typically 10%. Therefore, the more they collect the more commissions they make. You will be wasting your time. Instead, call her back and tell her that all communication from this date onward must be in writing and must be via registered mail and that you will not entertain any further communication over the phone. Put that request in writing back to Stephen Walter's Law Corporation via registered mail also and copy Premier Fitness' head office in Mississauga, Ontario. If they break any of the Collection Agencies Act's rules, write to Consumer Protection Branch of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (above #1). Check out Collection Agencies Act and its regulations. Also, report Stephen Walter for the conduct of his practice (since his name is used for collections) to the Law Society of Upper Canada: www.lsuc.on.ca/public/.

4) Threatening to take you to court: Please let them know that you 'eagerly await a court date'. First of all, Michelle Smit and/or Stephen Walter's collection agency is paid a commission of approx. 10% of whatever they can successfully scam. To take you to court for any amounts less than $1000, they have to pay court fees and other associated fees that can total >$1000+ and with no assurances they can win against you (therefore recover these costs) especially if you have facts on your side and demonstrate you have been a victim of unfair and unlawful business practices. Go to court (it will be small claims court), represent yourself you don't even need a lawyer. You should be aware that Premier Fitness has a lot of legal experience of pushing the envelope of the law even challenging the court's interpretation of the law. Even when you win a ruling, they will appeal, contest the ruling and you'll wait a long time before you see any refund or monies from them, they are masters at knowing how to delay payments. It will be both a moral victory and also a removal of that potential threat of damage to your credit rating a hot button they push consistently. Just google Premier Fitness Issues or other search strings and you'll read countless horror stories out there about this professional scam artist disguised as a fitness club. In the event the ruling goes against you, you can simply employ the same tactics to give Premier Fitness a taste of their own medicine, but know the law, get legal advice to know how much you, in turn can push the envelope.


Can you imagine if greater than 50% of all the former members they attempt to scam take these actions - what will happen? This scam by Premier Fitness will no longer be sustainable.

In the meantime, protect yourselves by ensuring everything is in writing; read all the consumer protection laws readily available on the web by the Ontario government and finally, our advice which we've used successfully -- fight, use the law to protect yourselves. If you are right -- why cave-in?

Why am I writing this? I am simply hoping. Hoping that my experience and posts will help others go through a little less painfully what I went through. Hoping that if enough members understand better their rights and the law, they will know they cannot be scammed. Hoping that Premier Fitness stop their unfair and unlawful business practices. Hoping that no one should get hurt, live in fear nor stress out over a business founded by a man John Cardillo with a criminal record who managed to have that criminal record expunged. And finally, hoping that members do not give in, because each additional monthly fee Premier Fitness successfully extorts from you, know that you are paying for Mr. Cardillo's extravagant lifestyle of nice estate homes and exotic cars. http://www.thespec.com/printArticle/263154

Henke, Toronto Ontario

Red Flags
Crap!
So my membership ended on February 28th, and I had totally forgotten about it about it. I went in to cancel it, and they said you need to give a one month notice--- so I had to pay 1 month extra just to cancel? (Does that even make sense? When a client wants to cancel, don't you just remove them from your database as clients?)

Anyways, so is this the situation you are talking about? I guess it's too late for me then, as I already made one payment, and the second payment is due to be taken off my credit card soon as well.

Under the Consumers Protection Act - you do not owe them another penny more
________________________________________
Unfortunately, they have successfully claimed yet another victim by using threat #1 to extort additional fees from you. Our advice is that you inform your credit card company to STOP PAYMENT - that payment you made plus the next payment that Premier Fitness attempts to extract is not legal.

Premier Fitness will give you their interpretation of the law in their favor and harrass you and then move to threat #2 and #3. Write to the Registrar, Consumer Protection Branch at 5775 Yonge Street, Suite 1500, Toronto, Ontario M7A 2E5 and make your case and request they investigate Premier Fitness and request that they get Premier Fitness to cease and desist and tell them to "govern themselves accordingly".

Premier Fitness knows what laws they are bending and they are counting on you not knowing your rights and the law.

Please don't give in to this extortion scam.


Steve Walters and the Hit Squad
________________________________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by seekingjustice
3) Having a credit collection agency, specifically Michelle Smit of Stephen Walter's law office hound you incessantly, sending burly men to pound on your front doors and finally
'Kay, that freaks me out. Are you saying they're going to send hitmen to my house too when I try cancel? Crap man! It sounds like I'm going to need police protection just to get out of my contract with these guys. This is one lesson in life that i won't forget.


That's why their threats work - playing the fear factor
________________________________________
Living in fear is one of the primary reasons their threats work - folks will think, well, not worth the aggravation, let's just pay up and be done with it. That would explain why their scams continue, why John Cardillo - CEO and founder of Premier Fitness clubs - check out this article on Mr. Cardillo by Hamilton Spectator(http://www.thespec.com/specialsectio...Pumped/263154),
can afford several properties including one in Caledon >$2m+. And he's been investigated for links to organized crime.

That said, we did not give in to our fears. We read the Consumers Protection Act, we talked to police about these men and were educated about the Collection Agencies Act. Their advice is that your front porch and driveway are considered "open" until you inform these "visitors" that they are not welcome and to never show up again. These "showing up at your door steps" are apparently very rare. Enough harrassed members have finally said enough is enough - reported them to all the proper authorities and we firmly believe it will not be used further as more ex-members get educated on their rights.

RE: Porch not an inviting refuge for Premier Fitness Hitmen
________________________________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by seekingjustice
Living in fear is one of the primary reasons their threats work - folks will think, well, not worth the aggravation, let's just pay up and be done with it. That would explain why their scams continue, why John Cardillo - CEO and founder of Premier Fitness clubs - check out this article on Mr. Cardillo by Hamilton Spectator(http://www.thespec.com/specialsectio...Pumped/263154),
can afford several properties including one in Caledon >$2m+. And he's been investigated for links to organized crime.

That said, we did not give in to our fears. We read the Consumers Protection Act, we talked to police about these men and were educated about the Collection Agencies Act. Their advice is that your front porch and driveway are considered "open" until you inform these "visitors" that they are not welcome and to never show up again. These "showing up at your door steps" are apparently very rare. Enough harrassed members have finally said enough is enough - reported them to all the proper authorities and we firmly believe it will not be used further as more ex-members get educated on their rights.
Well I'm glad to hear it. I was looking around and so far only one other person has mentioned "burly men to the door" and it was Ellen Roseman who maintains a page or blog titled "What is it with fitness clubs?"

BTW, who are you? A lawyer? An activist?

Former member who was wronged by Premier Fitness and determined to fight back
________________________________________
I am a former member who was wronged; searched the web looking for help/answers but only found disgruntled members and nothing useful to help fight/win against Premier Fitness. But I was determined to make a stand and fortunately have a great neighbor who is a lawyer and he provided valuable legal counsel on the matter and I read up on my rights as a consumer.

Also, I did not give up even when I was given unhelpful answers. For e.g. my first call with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services bureau was disappointing as I spoke to either a nave or junior staff or just someone more pro-business than pro-consumer protection and she wrongly advised that I cave to #1. Since then, as I became more knowledgeable about my rights and the law, I restated my case to the Minister's office and that has helped tremendously.

Activism is synonymous with protest or dissent. I am simply hoping. Hoping that my experience and posts will help others go through a little less painfully what I went through. Hoping that if enough members understand better their rights and the law, they will know they cannot be scammed. Hoping that Premier Fitness stop their unfair and unlawful business practices. Hoping that no one should get hurt, live in fear nor stress out over a business founded by a man John Cardillo with a criminal record who managed to have that criminal record expunged. And finally, hoping that members do not give in, because each additional monthly fee Premier Fitness successfully extorts from you, know that you are paying for Mr. Cardillo's extravagant lifestyle of nice estate homes and exotic cars.
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