Madigan sues over World Gym billing after facilities shut down
SUN-TIMES MEDIA June 1, 2012 4:12PM
Updated: July 6, 2012 10:59AM
Claiming gym members were charged at least $100,000 in dues and fees even after their fitness centers closed down, Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed suit against several World Gym franchises, including one in Elgin, and a payment processing company.
The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges that World Gym-Willowbrook Inc. and owners James Mecha and Diane Vassolo closed several suburban franchises without notice but continued to bill and collect membership dues and fees.
The suit also names ASF International, a Colorado corporation that processed gym payments, alleging it continued to do so in spite of the closures and members’ efforts to cancel contracts.
In the summer of 2011, members arrived to find the World Gym facilities had abruptly shut down at 12337 S. Route 59 in Plainfield; 264 S. Randall Road in Elgin; and 4212 N. Harlem Ave. in Norridge. Members were directed to other gyms owned by the defendants, some as far as 22 miles away, in Montgomery or Des Plaines, the suit claims.
Gym members who attempted to cancel contracts met resistance — receiving no response, being provided false contact information to cancel, or being told they could not cancel without additional fees. Nearly 150 customers saw their accounts sent to a collection agency over fees incurred after the gyms closed, the suit claims.
The lawsuit asks the court to ban the franchisees from owning or operating a fitness center or a business that accepts electronic payments from consumers in Illinois, as well as restitution for consumers and civil penalties.