The Alaska Club has questionable practices that are used to lure in new members then trap them into contracts that are extremely difficult to get out of. I got trapped in my contract because the person who signed me up was vague on what my membership included and on the cancellation policy that they hold.
The two deciding factors that got me signed up was that I believed my family membership include swim lessons for my kids and that there was a 90-day cancellation policy. While the monthly fee was a little on the high side, I was led to believe that it was made up by getting childcare, aerobic lessons, access to multiple locations, all pools, swim lessons for kids, tanning, in-store discounts, and excellent customer service. I was wrong.
Within the first week I learned that while I had access to the two locations with pools, it did not include swim lessons. in fact, swim lessons for each kid at the discounted member price started at $60 for once a week for 5 weeks. Another pool was offering swim lessons once a week for 6 weeks for only $50. While I was discouraged, I brushed it off thinking I was still getting a good deal and would just teach my kids myself.
A month later I decided that the gym was not worth what I was paying for after learning that the only aerobic class I got for free was a zumba class (with a supplemental membership) and anything else started at $30. Childcare was not available with my membership either. I had to pay $20 for a special supplement membership which got a me a discount on childcare for $20 a month per kid only saving me $10 a month per kid from not having the supplemental membership. I was already paying close to $200 a month and had no desire to pay an extra hundred just to get what I though I would be getting in the first place.
I was still within the 90-day cancellation period by a good month so I called in to submit my cancellation notice and learned that their cancellation policy was not just a standard 90-day policy. There were certain, and very specific, requirements that had to be met first. First and foremost, I could submit notice only within a ten day window, from the 90th day of membership to the 100th day of membership and that I had to have a total of 24 visits, also very specific in qualifications.
My visits had to be done by me and only me, not by anyone else on my family membership, it had to be done using a scan card with my picture on file, and the first week of my membership did not count since I had a temporary new member pass and could not get my scan card with my picture until after the first week of membership. In addition, they would only count my eligible scans once a day, multiple visits did not count. If I wanted to choose the standard cancellation policy, that required a 30-day notice and an early cancellation fee of $1200.
At this point I contacted a lawyer to discuss my options. The lawyer and I reviewed the contract and saw that everything was spelled out in the paperwork, complete with a paragraph for me to sign that specified their 90-day cancellation policy and my only mistake was not reviewing everything thoroughly and taking the word of the membership coordinator. My lawyer said that I had a chance of getting out of the contract since the membership coordinator had verbally misled my understanding of the contract, but it was a slim chance at best. He drafted out a letter asking for me to be released from the contract based on this and I submitted it following the gym's requirements of sending it registered mail with a return receipt.
I waited a month before calling the gym to find out what they had done with the letter. I got bounced from department to department since they didn't bother to track who was signing for registered mail and had lost my letter. After talking to several managers over the next few days I finally got directed to the voicemail for the director of membership. a few days after that I received a letter saying that the gym had reviewed my letter and contract and was still holding me to the contract and would not release me. I returned to my lawyer who said that while I could take the case to small claims court, my chance of winning would be minimal and by the time I paid the court fees it would be better to just minimize my membership to the lowest level possible and ride it out.
I called in again to follow my lawyers advise and lower my membership, dropping my family off the membership plan and reducing the locations I could attend to one that had no pool or daycare available for $60 a month. I also learned at that point that the special supplemental membership I had was not eligible for cancellation until 6 months after my signup date, meaning that I was paying an extra $20 a month for services I could not receive. By this point, the 6 month term was only a month away.
It has since been a year since I have joined the gym and I am now able to not renew my membership. I submitted a 30-day notice of cancellation with a request of acknowledgement of my notice which I received. I refused to return to any location of this gym for the remaining length of my membership as well. At this point I do not have a membership with The Alaska Club and am submitting my review anywhere and everywhere I can in the attempt to keep this from happening to other people.